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September 03, 2008 12:46 pm

Cross country teams to see first action Friday

Written by Tribune Staff

Boos optimistic as 2008 slate approaches
Another cross country season is set to begin for the Powell High School girls and boys squads, who will open the season Friday with the Billings Invitational at Riverfront Park.
PHS head coach Cliff Boos said each team will sport a 13-athlete roster as they embark into this season's slate, which contains six regular-season meets before regional and state action begins just past the midway point in October.
“Our girls team looks very solid as we have almost everyone back from last season with some good new additions,” Boos said. “Our boys team is generally young and inexperienced as we had several runners graduate last spring. However, there appears to be some good talent throughout the ranks.”
The 13 girls who will make up this year's Lady Panther squad includes three seniors, five juniors, three sophomores and two freshmen.
This season's senior group includes Jordan Bigelow, McKenzie Danforth and Lauren Dunleavy. Bigelow emerged as the Lady Panthers' top performer last year and earned PHS's top finish at the state meet, where she placed eighth overall. Dunleavy and Danforth also were among the Lady Panthers' top runners and earned spots in lineup for the state meet.
The junior class includes Skye Albert, Megan Darrow, Kristi Mingus, Emily Schwahn and newcomer Tranyelle Coplen. Albert was Powell's second-best placer at state (13th) in 2007. Schwahn and Mingus also earned berths at the state meet and recorded the Lady Panthers' fourth- and sixth-best times in that event. Darrow, a steady runner as well, also is expected to make major contributions this year.
The sophomore class boasts a trio of runners who can have a major impact on the season. Kassey MacDonald finished the 2007 season on a strong note, and Boos is expecting her to make even more gains this year. Molly McCray, who was sidelined last season with an injury, is healthy and ready to contribute. Claire Wetzel, a distance runner who enjoyed a solid track and field season in 2008, joins the lineup this year. If she can overcome a nagging leg injury, she has the potential to notch plenty of strong finishes for the team, Boos said.
The freshmen in the lineup will be Desiree Murray and Alyssa Rodriguez. Both enjoyed stellar careers at the middle school level, and Boos is eager to see what type of impact they will have on the lineup.
“We've got a lot of good runners,” Boos said. “They're all pretty close together, and I think they can do really well this season.”
As for the boys team, Boos is quick to point out there are plenty of talented runners among the Panthers' relatively inexperienced team. Among those expected to be among the top performers are seniors Patrick Sullivan and Jake Firnekas. Sullivan was one of three underclassmen who made the lineup for the state meet last year.
Dallas Robirds, the top returning runner from 2007 is part of the team, but he will not run because of a knee injury suffered during the early stages of his baseball season with the Powell Pioneers.
The junior class will be led by Colton Smith, a state qualifier in 2007. Devin Lynn, who was slowed by a knee injury last year, and Trent Eckerdt round out the juniors on this season's squad.
A total of five sophomores are on the team, including several participants from the 2008 track and field squad. The sophomore class boasts Patrick Voss, Danny McKearney, Tyler McCauley, Jessee Craig and Alex Vallecio.
The lone freshman on the boys squad is Wyatt Horner, who recently moved to Powell from Florida.
According to Boos, the Friday, Sept. 5 meet in Billings will be a good, early test for both of his squads. The event is slated to begin at 4 p.m.
“It's a great course, and the kids have really enjoyed running there in the past,” he said.
Boos also said he is expecting the field for Friday's event to have 20 or more teams, and he's optimistic that a solid start in Montana will serve as a springboard to a memorable 2007 for both the Panthers and Lady Panthers.
“We are just so appreciative of how hard the kids are working,” Boos said. “This is another good group of kids, and we're excited to see what they can do.”