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PHS boys tie Cody for first in home cross country meet

Three Panther boys finished in the top 10 Thursday as the Powell High School boys’ cross country team tied for the win in the Powell Invitational.

Powell tied Cody 45-45 for the win. Several Powell runners had strong showings, according to coach Cliff Boos.

“So that may bode well for us going into conference, with us running well with Cody right now,” Boos said.

Powell’s Zander Andreasen finished fourth in the race, but placed third since Thermopolis did not field a full five-person team. Andreasen, a senior, ran the Powell Golf Club course in 17:30, four seconds faster than he did in 2012.

“He’s just running so well,” said coach Boos.

“I was really happy with my time,” Andreasen said,. “I felt really strong the whole race. It was really good in practice the week before. Me and Matt (Abraham) were doing a workout and what we were doing worked out perfectly with my strategy.”

He said he decided to “stick with the Thermopolis kid” and that helped him run well and claim the top-five finish in the sole home meet of the year for Powell.

Boos originally thought Cody won the meet, but after checking the scores Friday afternoon, he realized it had ended in a tie.

“We were really excited about that,” Andreasen said.

Riverton was third with 53 points. Cody sophomore Brody Smith continued his dominant season with a winning time of 16:10 in the boys’ race.

One reason for the tie was runners competing for a team that could not field enough runners, and therefore they were not counted. In addition, only five runners for a team can score points, and only the sixth and seventh runners can earn places.

“That helped us, because it moved us up a little bit,” Boos said. “It’s amazing how those things can come off so close when you have that many runners.”

Abraham, a senior, came across the finish line sixth, fifth for scoring purposes, in 17:47. He was 50 seconds faster on the 5,000-meter course compared to last year, Boos noted, and ran well.

Junior Ben Wetzel continued to show great improvement, coming in eighth, seventh in scoring. Wetzel came home in 17:54, and knocked a full two minutes off his 2012 time.

Senior Grant Nickles finished 13th, 12th for scoring, with a time of 18:42, the exact same time he recorded last year. Sophomore Tyson Wages ran the course in 19:03, good for 19th place, 18th in scoring.

All five of Powell’s top runners were in the top 20 out of 49 entrants in the race, held in cool, rainy conditions. Sophomore Robby Burke, freshman Matthew Waite and freshman Michael Steiner also ran for the Powell boys. Senior Quin Wetzel did not race.

“We had a pretty good performance from all of them,” Boos said. “That’s encouraging to see.”

The Powell girls fielded a full five-girl team and claimed third with 72 points. Cody won the girls’ race with 22 points, and had the top three finishers, led by Anne Brinegar in 18:59. Riverton was second with 56.

The Panthers’ Bailey Sanders finished ninth in 21:30, but since once again Thermopolis did not field a full team, she scored eighth. Sanders, a junior, said she was pleased with her finish.

“I’m finally getting over a nasty cold,” she said. “This was better than the last two weeks.”

“She’s been pretty sick the last couple of races,” Boos said. “She was just a bit slower than last year’s time. That’s encouraging that she’s finally feeling better.”

Freshman Teo Faulkner was 10th, ninth for scoring purposes, in 22:30.

“Couple really good runners there,” Boos said of his top two girls.

Sierra Morrow 19th, 16th for scoring purposes, in 23.19, and Boos said the senior “showed improvement” in the race.

Freshman Kiley Cannon was 22nd, 18th for scoring, in 23:20, while senior Carly Klein was 25th, 19th for scoring, in 25:22, since more Cody runners crossed the finish line and only five can score for a team and only the sixth and seventh runners for a team can earn places.

“I thought it was nice to see all the five girls run together,” Boos said. “That was encouraging.”

It’s the only time of the year the team runs on the course, since golfers have first priority, he said. Despite the conditions, the four races, two middle school and two high school, were watched by supportive crowds. It was the final meet for the middle school runners.

“Especially with having the middle school out there, too, we had parents and friends there,” Boos said. “I’m glad we have a lot of people out there to watch.”

He said the runners like cooler conditions.

“The kids love to run in the rain,” he said as the girls race began. “Of course, it’s nice and cool, and they like that. It doesn’t rain that often in Wyoming — at least most years.”

“Actually, the conditions didn’t bother me at all,” Andreasen said.

He said the team enjoyed running on the course.

“It’s the most beautiful place to be when its nice,” Boos said. “But the last few years, we’ve had rough conditions. Last year was a real cold wind.”

During the meet, the Powell boys and girls rooted for each other, and shouted encouragement as runners in orange and black passed by them.

“Gotta push,” some members of the boys team yelled as Powell girls moved through the course. “It’s going to hurt. Push it!”

Both teams did just that, and it resulted in the most successful meet of the year for the Panthers.

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