By Mike Maltais

Sophomore Ben Klemmeck made his debut performance with the Liberty Bell High School varsity cross-country team one to remember with an impressive fifth-place finish at the Moses Lake Invitational Saturday (Sept. 14). Klemmeck’s time of 17 minutes, 18.7 seconds over the 5-kilometer course was one of two top-10 finishes by a Mountain Lion runner at Blue Heron Park, and helped Liberty Bell to a third-place overall finish ahead of several powerful A schools and all the B schools in attendance.

Senior veteran Liam Daily finished less than three seconds behind Klemmeck in eighth place with a time of 17:21.0.

“Anytime you put two guys in the top 10 in any race, you’ll do quite well,” said coach Craig Herlihy. “And follow that with strong results from your next three teammates and you’ve got a very positive team finish/ranking.”

The coach was referring to the 18th-place finish by Willy Duguay, 18:26.1, Morgan Ott, 29th, 19:01.2, and Josiah Klemmeck, 41st, 19:51.1.

Carter Dornfeld crossed the finish line in 21:07.3 for 58th place out of the field of 74 varsity boys in the 5K.

The Mountain Lions “outdistanced all but two teams in the 12-school field,” Herlihy said.

Deer Park, a 2A school, won the meet followed by 3A University High School of Spokane. Liberty Bell finished ahead of Royal City, Quincy, Omak, 4A host Moses Lake, Othello, Tonasket, Lake Roosevelt and Oroville.

“The three-plus lap course on the grass surface led to very fast times for three of our four returning racers from last year,” Herlihy said.

Daily, Ott and Duguay all bettered their times by 13, 71, and 88 seconds respectively, the coach observed, “But one cannot overlook the cross-country racing debut of sophomore Ben Klemmeck’s fifth-place finish and average pace of 5:34 per mile,” he said.

Herlihy said Klemmeck appeared to be “totally spent” in the final 400 meters of the race but “dug down deep to hold onto his fifth place.”

“We were fortunate to escape the heat wave by racing along the shores of Moses Lake as the temperatures were at least 10 degrees cooler there than the 95-degree outlying areas,” the coach said.

Senior Lilly Schlotzhauer competed in her first race of the season with a 41st place finish of 27:06.9 in the girls’ 5K.

Erik Ellis and Geza Sukovaty ran the 5K JV race. Ellis finished 47th with a time of 22:43.6 and Sukovaty 51st in 22:51.2.

Liberty Bell will be on the road for the Wenatchee Invitational at Walla Walla Point Park Saturday (Sept. 21). Race time is 10 a.m.

Senior Logan Szafas will race for the first time this season at Wenatchee.

“A newcomer to the team, Logan will surely add to the faster mix of our top seven varsity runners,” Herlihy said.