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December 11, 2008 3:27 am

Sullivan, Murray named most valuable

Written by Tribune Staff

Lady Panthers receive sportsmanship award

Powell High School's cross country teams conducted their annual end-of-the-year awards ceremony Tuesday, Dec. 2, and a number of athletes were recognized by their peers.

The event was highlighted by the presentation of team awards, which were determined by the members of each squad.

Among the honors given last week were the awards for the most valuable runners. For the Panther boys, senior Patrick Sullivan was chosen for that honor. Freshman Desiree Murray earned that distinction for the state champion Lady Panthers.

“Those two were among our front runners all season,” said PHS head coach Cliff Boos. “Patrick had a great senior season, and Desiree really came in and had a big impact as a freshman.”

Sullivan, during the recently concluded season, was a Class 3A West All-Conference performer. Murray also earned All-Conference and All-State honors. Her season was highlighted by a fourth-place finish at the state meet in Sheridan during October. Her effort was the strongest by a Lady Panther at that event.

The awards for the most improved runners were given to Lady Panther senior McKenzie Danforth and Panther freshman Wyatt Horner.

Danforth, after being on the disabled list early in the season, came back and earned a spot in the starting lineup for the state meet. Horner, who joined the team this school year, narrowly missed earning a spot in the Panthers' lineup for the state meet.

“It was great to see McKenzie get that award, especially after all she went through early in the season,” Boos said. “Wyatt came in and improved steadily throughout the season. He's a hard worker, and there's a lot of promise in his future because of his work ethic and dedication.”

As for the most inspirational runners, those awards went to junior Kristi Mingus and senior Alex Speiser. Mingus was among the top performers for the Lady Panthers during the season, but she came up short in her bid to earn a spot in the starting lineup at the state meet. That, however, didn't stop her from being in Sheridan, where she was one of the teams' biggest supporters. Speiser qualified for the state meet, but a hip injury prevented him from competing.

“They are very deserving of that honor,” Boos said. “Kristi is a solid runner and a good teammate,” Boos said.

“Alex was one of the top runners for the boys, and he sure worked hard all season. Unfortunately, that hip injury kept him from running at state.”

Also during the ceremony, the Lady Panthers received a sportsmanship award for their actions during the Lander Invitational. At that meet, a number of Lady Panthers, after finishing the difficult 5K run on the South Pass, went back on the course to run along with a competitor from Lyman, who was struggling to complete the event.

“That really shows the character of our kids,” Boos said. “(The runner from Lyman) was having trouble getting around the course, and several of our girls accompanied her through the rest of the way.”

Boos added that Lyman's athletic director nominated the Lady Panthers for the award after that display of support for a fellow competitor.

“It was a fun night,” Boos said of the awards ceremony. “It was a great way to celebrate another successful season. The boys did a great job after losing eight seniors from the previous year. It was a great accomplishment for them to finish third at the conference meet. They worked hard and improved throughout the season. That's what you look for each year.

“As for the girls, it was a great season for them. They put in a lot of effort, and it was great to see them win the state title. There's a lot of spirit there, and we're expecting a lot out of them and the boys team next year.”

Boos also noted assistant coach Ashley Hildebrand for her time and dedication to helping the teams' members reach their potential.

“The kids and I appreciate her so much,” Boos said. “She does so much for our program.”