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October 28, 2008 3:35 am

Panthers take ninth at state meet

Written by Tribune Staff

Sullivan notches team's top finish

Powell High School's boys cross country team put the finishing touches on a solid season by recording a ninth-place finish at the Class 3A state meet at the Sheridan V.A. Hospital grounds last Saturday afternoon.

Senior Patrick Sullivan, one of the Panthers' top runners all season long, paced the effort by recording the team's top finish. He placed 33rd out of a field of more than 80 runners with a time of 19:18.40. Close behind and in 38th place was sophomore Patrick Voss, who notched a time of 19:25.52. Danny McKearney, another of PHS's sophomore runners, added a 39th-place effort with a time of 19:29.19.

The Panthers' remaining runners — junior Devin Lynn, sophomore Tyler McCauley, junior Colton Smith and senior Jake Firnekas — placed 59th, 60th, 62nd and 70th, respectively.

Firnekas, who was initially in the role of the alternate runner for the state meet, got a chance to compete Saturday when senior Alex Speiser opted out of the event due to a recent hip injury, according to PHS head coach Cliff Boos.

Speiser, who enjoyed a strong showing at the Class 3A, West Conference meet on Oct. 17, would have entered the state event as PHS's No. 4 runner.

“As the week went along, he kept having trouble with his injury,” Boos said. “With him out of the lineup, it gave Jake a chance to run.”

The Panthers entered the event after claiming the third-place trophy at the West Conference meet just more than a week prior to the season-ending state event. The team had its sights set on earning a trophy Saturday, but a strong contingent of squads from the East Conference prevented that from happening. East Conference teams — Douglas, Lander and Newcastle — took the top three spots Saturday. Worland was the highest placing team from the West with its fourth-place effort. However, despite the East's strong showing, it was a runner from the West Conference who took the No. 1 spot in the individual standings. Jackson's Andy Phillips, the top finisher at the West Conference meet, claimed the top spot with a time of 17:19.51. He finished just ahead of Lander's Luke Bromley, who posted a time of 17:22.32.

“There were a lot of strong teams from the east side of the state,” Boos said. “You just never know how those things are going to work out when you get to state. We've got some strong teams in our conference, but quite a few of the teams from the east side had a great day.”

For the Panthers, they will lose four runners to graduation at the end of this school year — Sullivan, Speiser, Dallas Robirds and Firnekas. However, like the PHS girls squad, they will have a solid team back next season, including a strong group of sophomores, which includes state qualifiers Voss, McKearney and McCauley.

“We had a lot of young kids this year, and I thought they did well throughout the season,” Boos said. “They all wanted to do well, and they worked hard and got better each week.”

Team Results
Class 3A State Meet
1. Douglas (51 points)
2. Lander (67)
3. Newcastle (75)
4. Worland (126)
5. Jackson (127)
6. Buffalo (192)
7. Lovell (215)
8. Cody (221)
9. Powell (224)
10. Torrington (244)
11. Rawlins (247)
12. Lyman (254)