Merritt and Kolpitcke earn All-Conference
A pair of Powell High School cross country runners earned All Conference honors at the 3A West Regional Invitational on Friday. Kayla Kolpitcke and Alan Merritt picked up the honors with their fourth and sixth place finishes on the girls’ and boys’ sides of the invite, respectively.
As a team, the Panthers finished fifth and the Lady Panthers seventh.
The race was run at the Fort Bridger Historic Site — located 6 miles west of Mountain View — and resembled more of an actual cross country course, with bridges crossing streams and the terrain not as smooth. Most races throughout the season occur on either golf courses or at parks. With the location and the number of turns, PHS head cross country coach Cliff Boos said the course was “not a real fast course.”
“It’s a nice tranquil setting,” he said. Boos described Friday as a good day for running, with weather in the 50s.
Cottonwoods and aspen trees along the stream — which this time of year are in full array of color — helped to break the wind that was blowing.
“It’s hard to believe that’s down there when you look at the rest of the country to get down there,” Boos said.
The Panthers finished fifth out of seven teams with 112 points. Star Valley won the competition with 22 points. The Braves’ five fastest runners finished first, second, third, fifth, seventh and ninth.
Crossing the finish line first for the Panthers was junior Merritt who finished sixth overall, earning the All-Conference honors with a time of 17:36.
Tyler Pfeifer was second on the Panthers, with his 22nd place finish overall and a time of 18:26. Third on the team was Jayden Yates with a time of 18:31 for 24th overall place.
Joey Hernandez was fourth on the Powell team, placing 30th overall with a time of 18:43.
The fifth member to cross the finish line was Jesse Erickson with a time of 18:59, placing 34th overall. Eyob Robirds finished 47th overall with a time of 19:36 and Dylan McEvoy was 56th, posting a time of 20:11.
Finishing one second apart were Dylan Cordes in 58th place with a time of 20:19 and Brian Brazelton with a time of 20:20 for 59th place.
Matthew Hobbs completed the 3.1 miles in 20:38 for 67th place and Colin Queen was 69th with a time of 20:41.
Jaxton Braten placed 80th posting a time of 21:16, Riley McKeen was 90th with a time of 22:00 and Isaac Summers was 101st with a time of 23:30.
A total of 113 runners competed in the boys varsity race.
The Lady Panthers’ long distance runners — a group that’s struggled all season to have enough runners to submit a team score — had five runners healthy enough to compete at the conference invite.
“Never saw so many kids with illnesses throughout the season like this,” Boos said of both the girls and boys teams.
As a team, the Lady Panthers finished seventh with 144 points.
Kolpitcke, a sophomore, finished first on the team and earned All-Conference honors with her fourth place overall finish out of 68 runners with a time of 21:07.
Coming in second for the team was Gracen Curtis with a time of 23:36 for 33rd place overall. Abby Landwehr was the third Lady Panther to cross the finish line with a time of 24:34 for 40th overall.
Madelyn Horton placed fourth on the team with a time of 26:08 for 50th overall placement. Jenna Merritt finished fifth with a time of 27:24 for 60th place.
On Saturday, the long distance runners will head to Sheridan to compete in the 3A State Championship Invitational. The 2A and 4A State Championships will be held concurrently. Coach Boos said he likes that all classes have the state meet at the same date and location because there are some “great athletes we have from such a small state like this; it’s pretty impressive.”
The Panthers will run at 10:30 a.m. and the Lady Panthers will run at noon.
The races will be held at the Sheridan VA Medical Center.
Each team is only allowed to have a total of seven runners compete, but can bring eight runners — with the eighth serving as an alternate.
Boos said determining which Powell runners get to compete at state depended on the average times and placement among the team throughout the entire season. “Our boys are pretty consistent all season,” the coach added.
The seven Panthers who will compete are: Merritt, Pfeifer, Yates, Hernandez, Erickson, Robirds and Queen. Brazelton will serve as the alternate.
All five of the Lady Panthers who ran at the conference meet will get to attend the state meet.