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Panther cross country prepares for state

It will be a crowded field as the Powell Panthers, shown here near the start of the 3A West boys’ championship race last Friday, compete for the state title this Saturday in Douglas. It will be a crowded field as the Powell Panthers, shown here near the start of the 3A West boys’ championship race last Friday, compete for the state title this Saturday in Douglas. Tribune photo by John Wetzel

Powell heads to 3A title race as underdog

You’d have to go back a few years to find the last time the Powell High School cross country teams ventured to the 3A state championship meet without either the girls’ team or the boys’ numbering among the favorites to return home with a trophy. This year, however, both teams carry the underdog’s role to Douglas.
A season of low numbers and prolific injuries conspired to keep the Panther girls from contending for team honors throughout much of the regular season. Powell’s runners eventually began to mend and, buoyed by an influx of late-season additions, were able to place fifth at last week’s 3A West conference meet.
Seniors Victoria Grevisse, Alyssa Hildebrand and Tess Mitchell — all late comers to the cross country ranks — will line up alongside juniors Carly Klein and Sierra Morrow and sophomore Bailey Sanders for the Panther girls. The group will have its work cut out for it if it wishes to climb up the standings in Douglas this Saturday.
A field of 87 runners are expected to step into the starting chute for the 3A championship race on Saturday.
The scenario is a little different for the Panther boys, who were consistently a top three finisher at meets throughout the regular season. Powell’s boys saw that order of finish balloon to sixth place at the 3A West meet last week as the Panthers got their first look at traditional powers Jackson and Star Valley.
Seniors Andrew Feller, Pedro Vasquez and Chase Wellner, juniors Mat Abraham, Zander Andreasen, Grant Nickles and Quin Wetzel and sophomore Ben Wetzel will be part of a 127-runner field when boys’ action gets started at the 3A championship event.
While the Panthers will be dark horses when it comes to team hardware come Saturday, recent history says not to count the team out. It was just two years ago that the Panther boys suffered a similar low finish at the conference meet, only to come storming back and pick up a team trophy once the dust settled at the 3A state meet. The Panthers also have candidates for a possible spot on the medal podium when it comes to the individual awards. Both Andreasen and Feller have clocked impressive times for the Panther boys. On the girls’ side, Morrow and Sanders both have solid state performances to their credit in previous years.
“State is always a fun meet,” Panther cross country coach Cliff Boos said after Powell’s conference performance. “It’s always fun to see how the runners from the east come together with the ones here in the west and how that changes things.”
The state cross country meet will take place at the Douglas Golf Course. The 3A girls’ championship race will raise the starting gun at 11:50 a.m. The 3A boys’ championship race will conclude the day’s championship action at 1:30 p.m. The awards ceremony will immediately follow the 3A boys’ race. In the event of frost, race times could be delayed.
Spectators making the trip to Douglas for state cross country are asked to utilize the Park and Ride service being offered this season to minimize vehicle congestion around the Douglas Golf Course. Spectators are asked to park at Barling Park, located approximately a half mile from the course. A free shuttle bus service sponsored by Douglas High School will ferry spectators to and from the golf course throughout the day.
Signs will direct fans from the highway to parking areas at Barting Park. Shuttle buses will run to and from the cross country meet throughout the day. Fans are asked to please make use of the service to minimize congestion and parking issues around the state championship course.

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