Photo by Don Nelson Members of Liberty Bell’s cross-country teams started a time trial at a recent practice.

Photo by Don Nelson
Members of Liberty Bell’s cross-country teams started a time trial at a recent practice.

Big turnout, returning runners point to promising season

By Don Nelson

The Liberty Bell High School boys’ and girls’ cross-country teams enter the 2016 season with high hopes of repeating or improving on their performances at the 2015 state meet.

Four of the five scoring runners are returning from the boys’ team that placed sixth at the state finals in Pasco last November. The Mountain Lions lost Ben Klemmeck to graduation, but juniors Eli Nielsen and Cade Quigley, senior Carter Dornfeld and sophomore Emerson Worrell are back.

Similarly, the girls’ team that took fifth place at state will welcome back sophomores Athena Milani, Icel Sukovaty, Ava Mott and Sage Borgias, who all scored for the Mountain Lions at Pasco along with Ella Hall, who has graduated. Milani finished fifth overall and was the highest-finishing freshman in the 1B/2B field.

Joining the girls’ team this year is freshman Novie McCabe, who put up impressive times as an eighth-grader last year.

Coach Craig Herlihy said the overall team turnout of 46 students — 21 girls and 25 boys — for the varsity and junior high teams exceeds last year’s total of 39 runners. They will include a few new faces, Herlihy said.

“What’s exciting is that we’re getting a few seniors who have never run with us before,” the coach said.

The teams are also “well stocked with sophomores and freshmen,” Herlihy said.

The resurgence of the girls’ team will likely continue this season, the coach said. He said he expects tough competition for the seven spots that each team is allowed in competition. Taking fifth at state will be a big incentive for the 2016 team, Herlihy said. “That was huge,” he said of Liberty Bell’s performance in Pasco.

He added that even with the loss of Klemmeck, “we’re deeper on the boys’ side.”

The husband-and-wife team of Erik and Sarah Brooks will be assistant coaches again this year, Herlihy said. Both have impressive competitive backgrounds as runners, he said.

The Mountain Lions’ first competition will be on Sept. 6 at the Tonasket Jamboree. The only home meet of the year is the Central Washington B League championships on Oct. 22.