The No. 1 ranked Liberty Bell High School girls’ cross country team continued their stride toward state with an impressive performance at the Wenatchee Invite on Saturday (Sept. 21) at Walla Walla Point City Park.
Gretta Scholz again led the way, placing 3rd in the varsity girls’ race, and led a pack of seven Mountain Lions to a 4th-place team finish, behind 2A schools Ellensburg and Deer Park and host 4A Wenatchee.
Only 10 points separated Liberty Bell from the championship in a remarkably close competition. Sophomore Jori Grialou and juniors Liv Aspholm and Keeley Brooks ran well, but the news may have been freshman Stella Scholz, just a few steps behind Brooks and the 5th-place scorer for Liberty Bell. Lena Nelson and Lindsay Worrell completed the varsity squad, helping by bumping several competitors back in the standings.
“Stella ran a very smart race, picking off runners from the start, and all the way through the race,” coach Erik Brooks said of the freshman.
As at the opener at Sehome last week, the Liberty Bell girls were packed fairly well, although there was a bit more distance from first to fifth. Brooks attributes that to the first race where they have all run together. Previously the runners were divided by class; last week they were all running together.
On the boys’ side, the Mountain Lions were led by junior Ian DeLong, who placed 22nd. Coach Brooks noted his time this year on the 3.1-mile course was faster than his last trip around in 2017, when the course was set at 3.0 miles.
Junior captain Travis Grialou was hampered by a respiratory congestion issue and finished way back of his accustomed top Lion spot. Brooks thinks he is on the mend, and the extended week without a meet will be good for his system. Several freshmen got their first varsity action in Wenatchee, all of them showing some great promise. They were 9th of the 14 teams competing, and have moved into the “Teams To Watch” category of the State Top Ten this week.
Twins Graham and Carter Sheley were the No. 2 and No. 3 Liberty Bell runners, respectively, and both under 19 minutes. Fellow freshman Isaiah Stoothoff ran and finished with Grialou at 19:36 to complete the scoring team. First-year runner Oliver Orkand was in at 20:05 and Tristan Schmekel wrapped up the Liberty Bell contingent at 20:53.
News from the middle school ranks was highlighted by the seventh-grade boys sweeping the top six spots and scoring a perfect 15 points. Dexter Delaney led the way, circling the 1.55-mile course in 8:54. Mac Surface was just seconds behind, followed by Brayden Schmekel, Sam Patterson, Tristan Hover and Damon Alumbaugh. Wil Halpin lead the eighth-grade boys, placing 1st and pulling Aksel Thompson, Landry Chrastina, Kyler Mitchell and Conrad Laesch along with him.
The girls middle schoolers did not have the requisite five runners for a scoring team in either the seventh- or eighth-grade races, but were at the top of the list in both races. Marta Schkrokowski placed 2nd (11:22), Mia Libby was 7th and Zoe Kaltenbach was 14th in the seventh-grade race, while Liberty Bell’s two eighth-grade runners Leki Albright and Dashe McCabe finished 4th and 5th in their race.
The middle schoolers were scheduled to race at the Okanogan Golf course Tuesday (Sept. 24). The high school is taking a break this week in preparation for the Nike Twilight event in Marysville on Oct. 5.