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September 23, 2008 3:00 am

PHS girls make it two in a row in cross country

Written by Tribune Staff

Lady Panthers first again; boys team second at Lander

High elevations and a nine-team field greeted Powell High School's boys and girls cross country squads last Thursday at the Lander Invitational, and both the Panthers and Lady Panthers enjoyed strong showings.

The Lady Panthers, who were led by senior Lauren Dunleavy, notched their second straight first-place team finish. Their other first-place effort came less than a week earlier at the Cody Invitational at Don Little Park.

The Lady Panthers, during last Thursday's event, finished ahead of runner-up Lander and third-place Thermopolis. As for the individual standings, Dunleavy was the top runner with a time of 24:28. PHS freshman Desiree Murray, with an effort of 24:59, claimed the runner-up spot in the race. Jordan Bigelow (6th, 26:13), Skye Albert (8th, 27:07) and Kristi Mingus (9th, 27:09) rounded out the scoring efforts for PHS and gave the team five runners in the top nine.

Emily Schwahn added a 12th-place finish with her time of 27:39. Alyssa Rodriguez, after a pair of strong efforts at the Billings and Cody invitationals, was unable to finish the race after suffering pain in her side early in the race.

According to PHS coach Cliff Boos, the course at Beaver Creek Ski Area south of Lander, presented its fair share of challenges, including a hill that runners had to tackle at the start of the event. Elevations higher than 8,200 feet made it that much harder, and he said that, plus too fast of a start, might have been what hampered Rodriguez's efforts.

“We were originally scheduled to run at the golf course in Lander, but they were having a tournament there,” Boos said. “On Monday, they let us know the meet had been moved to the Beaver Creek Ski Area, which is about 22 miles south of Lander. It was a beautiful course, especially at this time of year with the leaves changing colors.

“The girls did really well, and it was great to see five of our runners finish in the top nine. Lauren got an early lead, and she ran extremely well again. It was a tough day for Alyssa, but she's fine now. She tried to get through it, but it was just too painful for her.”

In the competition for the boys, the Panthers recorded a second-place finish behind Lander. Lyman's team settled for third place. In the individual standings, Rawlins' Joe Mead took the top spot with a time of 20:23.

The pace-setter for PHS was sophomore Patrick Voss, who finished fourth overall in 21:48. Patrick Sullivan was the Panthers' second-fastest runner with a 21:56, and sophomore Danny McKearney enjoyed another solid performance, finishing ninth in 22:22.

Powell's scoring efforts were rounded out by Alex Speiser (14th, 23:34) and Devin Lynn (18th, 23:58). Colton Smith (21st, 25:18) and Jake Firnekas (22nd, 26:01) were Powell's sixth- and seventh-fastest runners.

“I'm so pleased with how well both teams are performing,” Boos said. “Once again the atmosphere we have is one where the kids really get along well and are very supportive of each other.”

• Up next: The boys and girls cross country squads will be in action again Thursday at the Rocky Mountain Invitational. That event has a scheduled 4 p.m. start time and will be conducted at Foster Gulch Golf Course in Lovell.