In their pursuit of large meets running against a variety of schools, the Liberty Bell High School Mountain Lions ventured to Lakewood High School on Saturday (Oct. 12) for the Nike Hole In The Wall Classic.
The “Hole” featured mostly larger schools from all over the West Coast including British Columbia. Twenty-two top-10 ranked girls’ teams from Washington’s five classifications were on hand. On the boys’ side, sixteen top-10 teams were present. Liberty Bell’s girls (No. 1 in Washington 2B) and boys (No. 11 in Washington 2B) were the only ranked B schools.
The fields were split by the best average team time over a 5-kilometer course. The Mountain Lion varsity girls were seeded in the first heat, the varsity boys were placed in the second flight. Even splitting the field in two, the boys were in a race that held 433 runners, and the girls had to battle a field of 316.
In the JV ranks, the boys ran in heat 2, and in the largest field of the day at 572 participants. Freshman Jackson Schmekel ran the best race of his early career, placing 20th and setting a personal record, smashing the 20-minute mark for the first time at 19:17. “Jackson ran a great race,” noted head coach Erik Brooks. Sophomore Payten Kaufmann led the girls’ JV crew of four in the field of 221 runners with a 31st-place finish and her career best at 5K of 23:22.
The girls’ varsity, while placing 30th of the 42 teams in the “fast heat,” ran their best race of 2019 so far. Gretta Scholz toured the 5K course in a personal best 19:22, good for 73rd in the 316-runner field. Liv Aspholm (20:53/199th), Jori Grialou (20:56/201st) and Keeley Brooks (20:59/203rd) were only 6 seconds apart. While their times were close, Brooks said that they didn’t really run together in the huge field. Aspholm developed a side stitch during the race, Grialou ran well but seemed to be battling. “She’s just tough” said Brooks, “and she hung in there.” The third of the trio, Brooks’ daughter Keeley, continues to pick up speed and Saturday was another personal record for the junior.
Freshman Stella Scholz (21:55/267th) continues to be the solid fifth scorer for Liberty Bell and ran another consistent race. Lena Nelson and Lindsay Worrell finished the team placings for the Mountain Lions, both setting personal records for 5K.
Ian DeLong’s season-best 17:25 (74th) led the Liberty Bell boys to a 27th-place team finish out of 60 teams, and 437 runners. Freshman Isaiah Stoothoff had his breakout performance, placing 86th in 17:33, a personal best by almost 30 seconds. Travis Grialou was back a bit this race in the No. 3 spot for Liberty Bell (18:06/147th), followed by Graham Sheley (18:12/160th), Oliver Orkand (19:11/312th), Carter Sheley (19:27/337th) and Tristan Schmekel (20:42/417th).
Brooks likes the place his charges find themselves, noting that the big meets are an experience that will help them be successful in the smaller league and district meets upcoming. The girls continue in the 1B/2B state No. 1 spot this week; the boys are first on the teams to watch list below the top 10.
The high schoolers take the next weekend off to train, readying for the league meet at Manson on Oct. 23, and the combined District 5 & 6 state qualifier meet in Moses Lake on Oct. 30. The state championship meet is on Nov. 9 in Pasco.