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September 16, 2008 4:00 am

Youth is served

Written by Tribune Staff

Murray highlights efforts for PHS

Freshman Desiree Murray's second-place effort was among the highlights for Powell High School's boys and girls cross country squads during last Friday's Cody Invitational at Don Little Park.

Murray, who missed PHS's season-opening meet in Billings a week earlier because of a family obligation, recorded a time of 22:59 during her varsity debut and helped the Lady Panthers to a first-place finish in the team standings. PHS paced the seven-team field with 31 points. The remainder of the top four was rounded out by Worland (52 points), Cody (68) and Lander (76).

Murray completed last week's event as the runner-up to Cody High School junior Sierra Jech, who took the top spot in the girls' portion of the meet with an impressive time of 22:03.

The Lady Panthers' other freshman, Alyssa Rodriguez, also enjoyed a stellar showing Friday. She finished the meet with a time of 23:54, which was the Lady Panthers' third-fastest time. Her effort also helped her land an eighth-place finish in the overall standings.

Cliff Boos, head coach of PHS's cross country squads, entered this season eager to see how well the Lady Panthers would stack up against the competition, particularly in the Class 3A ranks. So far, he's pleased with what has transpired.

“With everybody back, we knew the girls were going to be competitive,” Boos said. “(Desiree and Alyssa) have been two great additions, and being able to add to our lineup from last year really helps.”

PHS's girls squad also got a strong series of efforts from a trio of veteran runners, including seniors Lauren Dunleavy and Jordan Bigelow and junior Skye Albert. Dunleavy and Bigelow finished fifth and ninth overall with times of 23:26 and 24:06, respectively. Albert rounded out the Lady Panthers' point-scoring efforts with a 12th-place finish and a time of 24:26. Juniors Emily Schwahn and Kristi Mingus also ran well, according to Boos, and finished 15th and 16th in the overall standings. Schwahn posted a time of 25:21, and Mingus was close on her heels with a 25:27.

In the boys' portion of the meet, the Panthers notched a fifth-place effort. Lander took the top spot with 41 points. Worland (43 points) was the runner-up, and Cody (81), Riverton (82) and Powell (98) followed. Wyoming Indian's Caleb Her Many Horses had the top individual time. He finished with an 18:03.

Among the team leaders for the Panthers were a pair of Patricks — senior Patrick Sullivan and sophomore Patrick Voss. Sullivan, who was 18th overall, was the top placer for PHS with a time of 20:59. Voss was close behind and finished 19th with a 21:02.

Sophomore Danny McKearney ended the day in 24th place with a 21:45, and senior Alex Speiser's 22:40 helped him to a 29th-place finish.

Senior Jake Firnekas rounded out the scoring efforts for Powell with his 22:41, which put him in 30th place.

PHS junior Colton Smith and sophomore Tyler McCauley added 33rd- and 35th-place efforts with times of 23:08 and 23:47, respectively.

• Up next: PHS's boys and girls teams have one meet scheduled this week, and it will take place Thursday in Lander. The start time for the event is 4 p.m.

“I'm very impressed so far,” Boos said. “I thought both the boys and girls did well in our first meet in Billings, and they both ran well in Cody. We'll keep working, hope we can keep people healthy and see how things play out.”