By Don Nelson
Sleeping on the ground the night before didn’t seem to faze the Liberty Bell High School cross-country teams at the Coeur d’Alene invitational last weekend in Hayden Lake, Idaho.
After camping out Friday night, the boys’ and girls’ teams got up Saturday morning and showed impressive strength and depth in a meet that included more than 20 high schools from around the region
The girls’ team won the smaller schools’ varsity 5,000-meter race, led by freshman Novie McCabe in first place.
The boys finished sixth in the small schools’ varsity division at the same distance, with Liberty Bell junior Eli Nielsen the top Mountain Lions’ finisher in ninth place.
In the 2,500-meter middle school race, the Liberty Bell girls won the team title and the boys took second place.
The varsity girls took five of the first 17 places to score 44 points (in cross-country, the lowest score wins) in the small schools race. McCabe not only took first place, but also dipped under 19 minutes to run the fastest girls’ 5K of the day among all the schools, large or small.
She was followed by Liberty Bell freshman Gretta Scholz in third place, sophomore Athena Milani in 10th, sophomore Icel Sukovaty in 13th and sophomore Ava Mott in 17th. Freshman Rivers Leeman finished a few places back at 20th, and senior Taya DeLong was 26th.
On the boys’ side, Nielsen was followed by freshman Walker Hall taking 16th in his first varsity 5K race, junior Cade Quigley in 31st, sophomore Emerson Worrell in 43rd, senior Carter Dornfeld in 48th, sophomore Peter Aspholm in 51st and sophomore Lazo Gitchos in 59th.
Eighth-grader Travis Grialou took first place in the boys’ middle school race, with eighth-grader Bodie Paul in fourth. The girls’ team claimed three of the top seven positions in the middle school race: Eighth-grader Liv Aspholm second, seventh-grader Jori Grialou third and eighth-grader Keeley Brooks seventh.
Coach Craig Herlihy said the overnight trip was a good bonding experience for the team, and Liberty Bell will return to the Idaho meet in the future.
Herlihy said he was pleased with the teams’ “amazing results” and that the individual runners are making progress towards peak conditioning at season’s end. “Overall, we’re checking off the boxes,” he said. “They are all hard workers.”
It was gratifying to see two varsity boys run what Herlihy described as a “tough, hilly course” in under 18 minutes (Nielsen and Hall), the coach said.
Herlihy and assistant coach Sarah Brooks both noted that, had all high schools been scored in one race rather than broken into larger and smaller categories, the Liberty Bell girls would have still taken first in team scoring based on the places of its first through fifth finishers.
The Mountain Lions travel to Manson for the Trojan Invitational on Saturday (Sept. 24).