The times came up a bit, though the placings didn’t change much, as the young Powell cross country team ran at the Michelle Ludwig Invitational at the VA Hospital Grounds at Sheridan on Saturday.
“For most of our kids, this was their first time running this course, so it was good experience,” head coach Cliff Boos said. “And the younger ones, who ran here last year as middle schoolers, their times were comparable to what they ran here before.”
Freshman Kayla Kolpitcke led the Lady Panther charge by finishing the 5,000-meter course in 21:09.51, good for a 14th-place finish. That was three-and-a-half minutes behind Billings’ Tiahna Vladic’s blistering 17:41.86. Vladic finished nearly one-and-a-half minutes ahead of her nearest competitor and almost two minutes ahead of the third-place finisher.
Emma Andreasen, a junior, placed 36th in 22:05.92 as Powell’s second finisher. Two more freshmen took the Panthers’ third and fourth spots in the forms of Natalie Dillivan (58th place, 24:15.22) and Kaitlyn Decker (70th, 25:53.74).
Rounding out the Powell finishes was senior Emma Korte, who wound up in 76th at 27:32.44. That gave the Lady Panthers a 10th place finish as a team.
As a testament to the more challenging course, the first Powell boys finisher, sophomore Alan Merritt, saw his time go from 18:02 at Billings to 19:08 at Sheridan, but saw his placement improve two spots: from 49th to 47th.
“It is a different course, but this race is also a 5K, as opposed to the 3-mile race at Billings,” Boos said. “And Alan had been suffering with the flu all week, so I was impressed that he was even able to run.”
Showing a build-up of depth for the Panther boys — who finished 10th — the next four scoring finishes were more tightly bunched.
Sophomore Jayden Yates placed 49th in 19:20.52, senior Matthew Waite was 59th in 20:12.17, sophomore Brian Brazelton was 60th in 20:21.47 and freshman Dylan Cordes was 65th with a time of 20:36.57.
Two more Powell runners finished out of the scoring spots, but close enough to provide some competition moving forward: Jesse Erickson and Dylan McEvoy placed 68th (20:43.39) and 73rd (21:38.40), respectively.
“We were missing a couple of runners who had minor injuries, with Colin Queen and Steven Shopa, but it was encouraging to see boys like Jayden (Yates), Brian (Brazelton) and Dylan (Cordes) step in and compete like they did,” Boos said. “This meet had a lot of 4A schools, but we saw that we stack up pretty well against the 3A competition, especially since we’re not yet at full strength.”
The Panthers will be closer to home with their next two races, with a Friday competition in Cody at the Olive-Glenn golf course starting at 3 p.m., and a 4:30 p.m. Monday race at Rocky Mountain High School in Lovell.