By Don Nelson
The Liberty Bell High School cross-country teams switched directions last week, heading west to the Sehome Invitational in Bellingham because air quality conditions were poor in Ellensburg, where the Mountain Lions were scheduled to open their 2017 season.
Head coach Erik Brooks said that meet organizers squeezed Liberty Bell in as a late entrant, matching the Mountain Lions against a host of larger schools.
Just having the opportunity to cut loose in clean air was a big boost to the boys’ and girls’ squads, Brooks said. Smoke in the Methow Valley had made training outside untenable. “Bellingham was our first day actually running together as a team since Sept. 1,” Brooks said in his race report.
Liberty Bell took nine boys and eight girls to Bellingham. The races were staged by age groups over a rolling 2-mile course that was a mix of grass, track and hard-packed gravel. Brooks said the temperatures in the 60s and a light rain were “refreshing.”
The Methow Valley runners responded with some impressive early-season efforts, Brooks said. Noteworthy among them was Novie McCabe’s first-place finish in the sophomore girls’ race. McCabe took first place in the state 2B meet last year while leading the girls’ squad to the state championship. Her running mate Gretta Scholz took third place in the sophomore girls’ competition at Bellingham.
McCabe’s time was second-fastest among all the girls’ age groups.
Using a modified scoring system adapted to the age-group format, the Liberty Bell boys — who were second in last year’s 2B state meet — finished 12th out of 30 teams at Bellingham while the girls’ squad finished sixth out of 30 schools. Under the regular scoring system, the boys were 13th out of 27 qualifying teams, while the girls were seventh out of 27 schools.
“In both boys and girls races we competed amazingly well with any number of 2A, 3A and 4A schools, and we have a long way to go to realize our full potential,” Brooks said in his race report.
Brooks said that several Mountain Lion runners did not compete at Bellingham because of other commitments.
Liberty Bell next competes at the South Whidbey Invite on Saturday (Sept. 16).
Race results, boys
• Eli Nielson, senior boys: 11:04, 15th place
• Walker Hall, sophomore boys: 11:04, 12th place
• Ian Delong freshman boys: 11:19, 6th place
• Travis Grialou, freshman boys: 11:50, 15th place
• Emerson Worrell, junior boys: 12:09, 51st place
• Lazo Gitchos, junior boys: 12:46, 70th place
• Andrew Kominak, freshman boys: 12:58, 63rd place
• Tim Haley, senior boys: 13:08, 72nd place
• Michael Mott, JV boys: 16:05, 103rd place
Race results, girls
• Novie McCabe, sophomore girls: 11:51, 1st place
• Gretta Scholz, sophomore girls: 12:31, 3rd place
• Liv Aspholm, freshman girls: 13:14, 5th place
• Keeley Brooks, freshman girls: 14:33, 18th place
• Mia Stratman, senior girls: 14:48, 33rd place
• Lucy Cole, junior girls: 15:04, 41st place
• Lindsay Worrell, freshman girls: 15:33, 42nd place
• Lena Nelson, freshman girls: 15:44, 46th place