Photos by Don Nelson
They were bunched up at the start, but the Liberty Bell girls’ and boys’ varsity cross-country teams quickly put a lof of distance between themselves and many of their competing runners at the league championship meet last weekend.

By Don Nelson

In cross-country running, 15 is a perfect score. The Liberty Bell High School varsity girls’ team achieved perfection for the second consecutive year while winning their third straight title in the CWB League championships at the Mountain Lions’ home course on Saturday (Oct. 21).

Meanwhile, the boys’ varsity team won what was, by some accounts, its eighth consecutive league title with an impressive 26 points.

What’s more, the Liberty Bell middle school boys’ and girls’ teams also won their races on a day that started out snowy and stayed cold and drizzly.

In cross-country, the lowest point total wins, based on the placement of each team’s top five runners. In the varsity girls’ race, the first five finishers — and seven of the first 10 — were all from Liberty Bell.

Sophomore Novie McCabe, the reigning state 2B individual champion on the reigning state championship team, led the Lady Lions with a near-record time of 18:33 over the 5,000-meter course on the trail system named in honor of her late father. She was just 7 seconds slower than the fastest girls’ time on the course, registered by the former Oroville star and three-time state champion Sierra Spieker, and 21 seconds faster than her winning time last year.

McCabe was remarkably consistent, going out in a 5:56 first mile and finishing with an overall 5:58 pace per mile.

Bunched behind McCabe were sophomore Gretta Scholz in second (20:05); junior Ella Kuzyk in third (20:34); junior Icel Sukovaty in fourth (20:45); and junior Athena Milani in fifth (21:04). The Lady Lions’ dominance was so complete that Milani finished more than a minute ahead of the sixth-place runner, Caitlynn Bell of Riverside Christian.

Freshman Eva Weymuller in seventh and junior Lucy Cole in eighth rounded out Liberty Bell’s finishers in top 10.

Riverside Christian, the only other girls’ entry with a complete team, took second place with 48 points.

On the boys’ side, the Mountain Lions took third through sixth places to keep their league championship streak alive. Leading Liberty Bell was senior Eli Nielsen in third, followed by sophomore Walker Hall in fourth, junior Emerson Worrell in fifth and freshman Ian DeLong in sixth. Just a couple of strides back in eighth place was freshman Travis Grialou. Garrett Wilson of Tonasket was first and Heriberto Sarmiento of Manson second. The Manson team took second place behind Liberty Bell with 49 points.

The middle school boys’ team scored 21 points based on sweeping the first three places and five out of the top 10. First place went to seventh-grader Isaiah Stoothoff, second to seventh-grader Eamon Monahan and third place to eighth-grader Bellamy Kar.

The Liberty Bell girls’ middle school team also scored 21 points on the strength of a first-place finish by eighth-grader Jori Grialou, seventh-grader Stella Scholz in third and eighth-grader Mahali Kuzyk in fourth.

All four Liberty Bell teams took first place at last year’s league championship meet as well.

“All in all, the kids ran really well,” Liberty Bell coach Erik Brooks said. “We were impressed with the group running on the boys’ side — and the two distinct packs of Liberty Bell yellow were right where they needed to be in order to take control of the race and to continue our recent streak of league championships.”

Brooks said that the varsity girls’ “continue to run strong — with some aggressive first miles that will be necessary at state.”

The Mountain Lions don’t have much time to rest on their laurels. The district 5/6 championship meet is on Wednesday (Oct. 25) at Walla Walla Point Park in Wenatchee. The boys’ and girls’ teams will both be defending their 2016 titles at the district meet. The state championship meet is on Nov. 4 in Pasco.

Results, CWB League Championships, Oct. 21
Boys’ varsity/JV, 5,000 meters
Team scores: Liberty Bell 26, Manson 49, Tonasket 75, Brewster 108, Lake Roosevelt 143, Riverside Christian 163, Bridgeport 181
3. Eli Nielsen
4. Walker Hall
5. Emerson Worrell
6. Ian DeLong
8. Travis Grialou
11. Cade Quigley
17. Simon Studen
19. Peter Aspholm
20. Lazo Gitchos
22. Nick Fitzmaurice
25. Tim Haley
30. Bodhi Kuzyk
37. Galen Fonda
41. Logan Hall
46. Erick Lopez
50. Eden Davis
62. Andrew Kominak

Boys’ junior high, 1.5 miles
Team scores: Liberty Bell 21, Brewster 49, Omak 79, Manson 82
1. Isaiah Stoothoff
2. Eamon Monahan
3. Bellamy Kar
6. David Kominak
10. Sawyer Crandall
11. Kieren Quigley
13. Carter Sheley
14. Graham Sheley
17. Tristan Schmekel
19. Izzy Klemmeck
21. Jackson Schmekel
25. Eli Neitlich
26. Kellen Miles
31. Connor Herlihy

Girls’ varsity/JV, 5,000 meters
Team scores: Liberty Bell 15, Riverside Christian 48
1. Novie McCabe
2. Gretta Scholz
3. Ella Kuzyk
4. Icel Sukovaty
5. Athena Milani
7. Eva Weymuller
8. Lucy Cole
12. Lindsay Worrell
18. Lena Nelson

Girls’ junior high, 1.5 miles
Team scores: Liberty Bell 21, Omak 53, Manson 59
1. Jori Grialou
3. Stella Scholz
4. Mahali Kuzyk
10. Lilia Kuzyk
12. Ayeanna Ruprecht
13. Mariah Lucy
15. Payten Kaufman
18. Stella Gitchos
22. Addison Stratman
24. Nina Kominak