Boys finish 3rd in meet at Manson
Liberty Bell High School’s cross country teams entered the post season on Oct. 23 with solid performances in the 2019 Central Washington B League Championships at Manson’s Wapato Point.
The No. 1 state-ranked Mountain Lion girls won their fifth straight league title, all seven runners placing in the top 10 spots and scoring a perfect 15 points to Tonasket’s 45 points. The boys placed third in the field of six teams on the strong showings once again of juniors Travis Grialou and Ian DeLong.
Senior Gretta Scholz won her first individual league championship, touring the 5-kilometer course in 19:38, a minute and a second faster than second-place teammate sophomore Jori Grialou. Junior Keeley Brooks was third and freshman Stella Scholz was fourth. Juniors Lena Nelson and Lindsay Worrell completed the scoring sweep for the Mountain Lions, staying ahead of Tonasket’s first runner.
Scholz ran most of the race alone in front. The experience was “kinda different” for her, she said, referring to the larger races the Mountain Lions have raced this year. Kinda different, as well, has been “not chasing Novie around,” said Scholz of her former running teammate Novie McCabe. McCabe is also Scholz’ Nordic skiing teammate who gave up her senior cross country season to prepare for her winter on the U.S. Ski Team.
For the boys, Grialou was sixth overall as he and DeLong hung together for most of the 3.1 miles, Grialou pulling away in the last half-mile. The Mountain Lions were packed, though, with DeLong (eighth) and freshmen Isaiah Stoothoff (10th) and Graham Sheley (11th) within 22 seconds of the lead Lion. Junior Oliver Orkand completed the scoring team for Liberty Bell in 26th place, with Tristan Schmekel on his heels in 27th.
A lingering respiratory ailment hampered performances by varsity runners Liv Aspholm on the girls’ side and Carter Sheley on the boys’. Both runners are expected to be at full strength for the District 5/6 State Qualifier in Moses Lake on Wednesday (Oct. 30).
Freshman Jackson Schmekel led the boys’ junior varsity race most of the way, breaking from the pack in the first mile, and widening the gap from the rest of the field throughout the race. Schmekel’s time of 19:04 was his personal record for a 5K course. Liberty Bell’s Ayeanna Ruprecht, Kierra Reichart and Peyton Kaufmann were the only JV runners in the girls’ race, combined with the varsity girls. While they counted only for JV placings, the three were 14th, 15th and 16th across the line in the combined field of 23 runners.
Coach Erik Brooks was satisfied with the league performances, but said there are challenges ahead at the regional qualifier this week. “The girls should be the favorite,” said the third-year head coach of their chance to win a fifth straight District 5/6 Regional title. “The boys will have some work to do, but should compete for a spot,” referring to the state championship meet in Pasco on Nov. 9. The top four scoring teams and 20 individuals at the regional move on to state in boys’, the girls’ top three teams and 15 individuals qualify. Liberty Bell’s Scholz is currently No. 2 on the state list of 5K runners in the B class, and is the favorite to win her first regional title.
Middle school teams are champs
Displaying to the region that Mountain Lion cross country is on solid footing for a while to come, the junior Lions swept the team titles at the Middle School League Meet at Liberty Bell on Oct. 26.
Coach Liam Daily’s boys dominated the field, taking six of the top nine spots, scoring 16 points to Brewster’s 53 and Omak’s 71. Eighth-grader Wil Halpin edged seventh-grader Mac Surface by 2 seconds in the 1.5-mile race. Chase Marchand of Lake Roosevelt was third, Mountain Lions Aksel Thomson and Brayden Schmekel were fourth and fifth and Tristan Hover and Damon Alumbaugh were eighth and ninth, respectively.
The Liberty Bell girls were the sole scoring team, as only 11 girls ran the 1.5-mile course. Syreni Sandoval of Omak placed first, Kaydence Carrington of Brewster placed second, followed by a trio of Mountain Lions: Leki Albright, Dasche McCabe and Marta Schkrohowsky. Mia Libby and Zoe Kaltenbach placed seventh and eighth.