Going the distance

Posted 8/27/09

“We've got a good nucleus back,” said Boos. “It's a pleasant group of kids to work with. They've been working hard every day.”

Sophomores Desiree Murray and Alyssa Rodriguez are both back for Powell after recording top 10 …

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Going the distance


Panther harriers return good nucleus for ‘09 teamsThe Powell High School Panthers return a core group of four runners from last year's state champion girls' cross country squad and bring back another four from a boys' team that placed ninth at state. Is it any wonder then that head coach Cliff Boos is entering the 2009 season with a sense of optimism?

“We've got a good nucleus back,” said Boos. “It's a pleasant group of kids to work with. They've been working hard every day.”

Sophomores Desiree Murray and Alyssa Rodriguez are both back for Powell after recording top 10 finishes at last year's state championships. The pair were also all-conference runners a season ago. Seniors Skye Albert and Emily Schwahn also lined up as varsity runners on the state title team.

Despite that bevy of experience, don't expect to hear much talk of a repeat title drifting through the halls of Powell High School.

“We're not really talking about last year though or putting that sort of pressure on ourselves,” said Boos. “There's so many things that can happen with injuries, you don't know what the competition has and that sort of thing. We just want to work hard every day and hope things go as well as possible.”

Before things can come together for the Panthers, Boos will first have to fill the holes created by the graduation of three senior varsity runners last spring. One of those slots will likely go to junior Kassey MacDonald, the team's eighth runner last season.

“She's showing good improvement over last year in our early practices,” said Boos. “I think she'll have a good season.”

Freshman Brooke Nisley had a good performance in middle school track last spring and will be looking to follow in the footsteps of Murray and Rodriguez, who found state meet success in their first season of high school cross country. The Panthers could also see a boost from senior Lauren Fagnant, a transfer from Powell's volleyball program.

“She's run track in the past,” Boos notes of Fagnant. “She's had some injury problems with a hip, but she could be an asset to us and she's someone I can see having a good season.”

Injuries could be a key to the season for the Panther girls this year since Boos has just 10 runners to choose from when setting his varsity roster. Considering the squad needs five runners to register a team score at meets and seven for a full varsity contingent, that could make for some nervous moments during the year.

The numbers aren't quite as thin on the boys' side of the ledger, where 15 runners reported this fall. Of that total, 11 are either juniors or seniors. Like the girls' team, four of the runners took part in last year's state championships.

“Seniors Devin Lynn and Colton Smith and juniors Danny McKearney and Patrick Voss were part of our team that finished ninth at state last season,” notes Boos. “We had several senior boys graduate last spring, so we have some holes to fill in there too.”

Like the girls' team though, clear candidates are making themselves known in the early going.

Two of those candidates bring some experience from Powell's state championship track season with them.

Sophomore Bodie Friday moved to Powell from Arizona with his family after the conclusion of cross country season last year, but ran distance for the Panthers' track team in the spring. Senior Matt Condie has some experience running distance in track as well before he began specializing in the pole vault for Powell last season.

Juniors Cole Good and Cody Fagley are also being looked at.

“Cody is another transfer student who has some track experience, but this will be his first year of cross country because Riverside doesn't have a program,” Boos said. “Cole has just been running well for us in our early practices.”

Boos will have a better idea of where both teams stand after the Panthers hold their first official time trial of the season later this week. That event will go a long way toward setting the team's roster for the season-opening Sept. 4 Billings Invitational.

“That's always been a nice meet for us,” notes Boos. “It's at a really nice park to run in. The course is fairly flat and there's about 20 teams there. It's a nice beginning for the kids and it's not too far to travel.”

The event will be the first of six regular-season meets for the Panthers. Powell hosts its own invitational on Oct. 9 at the Powell Golf Club. The team travels to Lander for the conference meet on Oct. 16 and, if all goes well, will be in Sheridan for the state meet the following week.

“I think we'll have good competition all season within the team,” said Boos. “This group has been a real pleasure to work with.”