It was a day of personal bests, individual accomplishment and some surprises in Moses Lake at the 2B District 5&6 state qualifier cross-country meet on Oct. 30. Both the Liberty Bell High School girls’ and boys’ varsity teams again qualified for the state championships this Saturday (Nov. 9) in Pasco.
The No. 1-ranked girls, as expected, easily won the team title, placing six of the seven runners in the top 10 individual places, including senior Gretta Scholz’ first individual regional title. The boys’ team, expected to compete for the fourth and final spot to state, instead placed third, a scant one point behind second-place Trout Lake.
The girls’ varsity race opened the meet with Scholz breaking out from the pack in the first half mile, and staying there. Liberty Bell sophomore Jori Grialou, and juniors Liv Aspholm and Keeley Brooks, stayed within shouting distance of Scholz for the first of three laps around the autumn leaf-covered park.
Grialou broke from her two teammates and ran most of the last two laps alone in second place, keeping pace with, and finishing just 14 seconds behind Scholz. “Jori ran her fastest race ever, pretty much all alone,” said coach Sarah Brooks. “That is so hard to do and such a great example of her mental toughness and racing ability.” Brooks added, “You can never recognize enough just how impressive it is for our lone senior, Gretta, to lead a race all alone from wire-to-wire for the second week in a row,” referring to her back-to-back solo victories a week apart.
Indeed, Scholz, Grialou and Aspholm completed a 1-2-3 sweep of the top spots while Brooks fell back to 7th, freshman Stella Scholz was one spot back in 8th and junior Lindsay Worrell was 10th. Lena Nelson’s 23rd-place finish put all seven Mountain Lions in the top half of the 46-runner field.
Liberty Bell’s 21 points was the meet low, second-place Trout Lake scored 55 and Manson’s girls, in an upset, edged White Swan to grab the third and final team spot to state.
On the boys’ side, the third-ranked Manson Trojans went into the meet as the favorite, despite losing their second-best runner to injury. Trojan Connor Torgeson battled the entire 5 kilometers with Justin Peck of Trout Lake, Peck nosing out Torgeson by less than 3 seconds at the finish. Torgerson did lead the Lake Chelan area school to the team title with 44 points. Trout Lake was second with 65 points, the Mountain Lions at 66. Brewster would place fourth and grab the last team spot to state with 88 points.
For the Mountain Lions, juniors Travis Grialou and Ian Delong ran well, placing 7th and 8th, respectively. The surprises came in the next two spots where freshmen Isaiah Stoothoff (9th) Graham Sheley (18th) and Jackson Schmekel (30th) all set personal records. Jackson’s twin brother Tristan was 40th and junior Oliver Orkand was 42nd in the 88-runner field. “On the boys’ side, so much just went right. Nine of our 11 boys set new personal 5K bests,” noted head coach Erik Brooks. “Oliver [Orkand] keyed an awesome race by all three [of the No. 5, 6 and 7 Liberty Bell runners] by getting to the right part of the race early and in hanging tough all the way through.”
In the JV race, Mountain Lions were at the front in both boys’ and girls’ races. Sophomore Kieren Quigley displayed an amazing last half mile to track down the lead pack, pass them all, and take control of the race with about 100 meters to go to claim first place. Freshman Carter Sheley placed 6th, Eli Neitlich was 9th and Kellen Miles placed 11th. Kierra Reichert, Ayeanna Ruprecht, Peyton Kaufman and Annika Tate-Libby swept the top four spots in the girls’ JV.
In Short …
On Saturday (Nov. 9), the varsity girls’ and boys’ teams will make repeat appearances at the state meet in Pasco. For the boys, it will be their 10th straight appearance as a full team. The girls are making their fifth straight team appearance at state, and looking for their fourth straight state championship.
There will be a send-off for the runners during a morning break at Liberty Bell High School on Friday (Nov. 8) at 8:30 a.m.
The girls’ team will be awarded the 2019 B Class State Academic Champions for Girls Cross Country on Saturday, an award they earned by carrying a 3.987 GPA for the team. This is the second consecutive year for Liberty Bell on the cerebral podium: The boys won the academic award last year.