Both boys and girls take first at 1B/2B district meet
By Don Nelson
First-place runners, first-place teams — the Liberty Bell High School cross-country program hasn’t had a lineup like this in more than a decade as the boys’ and girls’ teams head to the state meet after sweeping the 1B/2B District 5/6 championships on Saturday (Oct. 31) at Wenatchee.
Senior Ben Klemmeck led the winning boys’ team by taking the 3-mile varsity race, once again besting Bridgeport’s Oren Cox as he had in the league championship meet a week earlier.
“Ben made his breakaway from Oren with about half-a-mile to go,” Liberty Bell coach Craig Herlihy said. “Oren has a better finishing kick, so we made sure Ben was aware of that and separated himself.” Cox was about 4 seconds behind Klemmeck at the finish.
Athena Milani led a freshman-dominated girls’ team to first place over the three-mile course, guaranteeing a trip to the state meet in Pasco on Saturday (Nov. 7). Ella Hall, the only senior on the Lady Lions’ squad, finished fourth, followed by freshmen Icel Sukovaty (seventh), Ava Mott (eighth) and Sage Borgias (17th) to complete the Lady Lions’ scoring. Sophomore Mia Stratman finished less than a second behind Borgias in 18th place, followed by freshman Johanna Vollmer in 19th and Larkin Lucy in 25th. It was the girls’ team’s first regional title since 1999.
The boys earned their fourth straight district title and sixth consecutive trip to state, where they finished fourth last year. Klemmeck was the only senior among Liberty Bell’s five scoring runners last weekend. Sophomore Eli Nielsen finished sixth, followed by sophomore Cade Quigley (13th), freshman Emerson Worrell (16th) and junior Carter Dornfeld (28th). Less than 2 seconds behind Dornfeld was senior Geza Sukovaty in 29th place, and freshman Peter Aspholm finished in 40th.
The junior varsity boys, led by freshman Lazo Gitchos, also took first place.
Herlihy said that because there were only two scoring teams in the girls’ race — Liberty Bell and Tonasket, with one going to state — “it was really a dual meet.”
“The Tonasket girls gave us a scare,” Herlihy said. “They went out fast.” Tonasket had three of the top nine finishers.
Herlihy said it’s difficult to predict possible outcomes at the state meet, where everyone typically runs their best race of the year. He noted that the Liberty Bell girls’ team will be one of eight in the competition (there are 16 teams on the boys’ side), a remarkable achievement given that it’s been years since the Lady Lions could field a complete team.
“Everything after this [the district meet] is icing on the cake,” the coach said.
For those interested in giving the Mountain Lions a send-off, the team bus will leave from the high school at around 10 a.m. Friday, and will have a fire truck escort down Glover Street in Twisp a few minutes later.
Saturday’s meet is at the Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco. Racing begins at 10 a.m.
Liberty Bell High School finishers 1B/2B District 5/6/ Championships
VARSITY BOYS, 3 MILES
1. Ben Klemmeck, senior, 16:14.3
6. Eli Nielsen, sophomore, 16:43.1
13. Cade Quigley, sophomore, 17:55.56
16. Emerson Worrell, freshman, 18:07.4
28. Carter Dornfeld, junior, 19:20.69
29. Geza Sukovaty, senior, 19:21.22
40. Peter Aspholm, freshman, 19:46.76
Team scores: Liberty Bell 64, Brewster 98, Tonasket 98, Bridgeport 126, White Swan 133, Okanogan 137, Riverside Christian 175, Manson 189, Bickleton 208, Yakama Nation Tribal 239, Lake Roosevelt 251, Oroville 291
VARSITY GIRLS, 3 MILES
1. Athena Milani, freshman, 20:24.13
4. Ella Hall, senior, 21:08.04
7. Icel Sukovaty, freshman, 21:49.55
8. Ava Mott, freshman, 22:23.81
17. Sage Borgias, freshman, 24:58.21
18. Mia Stratman, sophomore, 24:58.56
19. Johanna Vollmer, freshman, 25:37.49
25. Larkin Lucy, freshman, 29:27.75
Team scores: Liberty Bell 26, Tonasket 30
JUNIOR VARSITY BOYS, 3 MILES
2. Lazo Gitchos, freshman, 20:28,05
3. Tim Haley, sophomore, 20:41,16
4. Simon Studen, freshman, 20:52.28
6. Cameron Quinn, sophomore, 20:58.2
16. Sam Neitlich, freshman, 24:10.11
17. Michael Mott, freshman, 24:16.72
18. Zach Strong, freshman, 25:13.52