Lady Panthers champions again!

Posted 10/26/10

“It has been really special to see new kids and new faces come in and maintain that level of quality,” said Powell head coach Cliff Boos, whose girls' teams have now placed among the top three teams at five consecutive state …

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Lady Panthers champions again!


{gallery}10_26_10/xcountry{/gallery}Powell's Desiree Murray pushes her way up a hill during Class 3A state cross country action this past Saturday in Douglas. Murray, a junior, was part of her second state championship team, placing 14th in the race. Courtesy photo/Brendan Burnett-Kurie, Douglas Budget Powell girls run to third state title in five yearsWhat started out as possibly the worst day of the 2010 cross country season ended as undeniably its best on Saturday. The Powell High School girls' cross country team battled through a steady rain and a talented field of 72 runners to capture the Class 3A state championship trophy in Douglas. The state title marked the third 3A title in the past five years for the Panther girls.

“It has been really special to see new kids and new faces come in and maintain that level of quality,” said Powell head coach Cliff Boos, whose girls' teams have now placed among the top three teams at five consecutive state meets.

Two of those new faces played prominent roles in the Powell's championship run. Freshman Sierra Morrow and sophomore Tally Wells — both making their first state meet appearances — earned all-state honors by leading a pack of Powell runners to the finish line. Morrow placed fifth overall in a time of 21:41 on the five-kilometer championship course. Wells was seventh in a time of 21:45.

After Wells, Panther fans didn't have to wait long to learn the fate of the rest of the team. Desiree Murray, Brooke Nisley and Kassey MacDonald emerged in unison over the course's final hill.

Murray missed on her quest to garner all-state honors for a third consecutive year, placing 14th in a time of 22:32. Nisley was four seconds behind in 15th position and MacDonald made it a one-minute split of Powell's top five runners with a time of 22:41.

Alyssa Hildebrand rounded out Powell's state roster, crossing the finish line in 57th position with a time of 26:20.

By producing five of the first 16 runners to return to the finish line, Powell removed much of the drama from what was forecast to be a multi-school battle with 3A West rivals Jackson and Cody for state supremacy. The Panthers posted a 30-point margin of victory over defending state champion Jackson. Cody and Lander were another seven points back, with Lander capturing third-place honors by virture of a tiebreak.

“It was so nice to see the kids come through, especially with the weather as crazy as it was,” said Boos, whose team awoke Saturday morning to a driving rain. “The conditions were so bad, we actually delayed going out to the race site so the kids wouldn't have to sit around quite as long in the wind. Give them credit. They got there. They focused what they needed to do in order to be ready and they ran a great race.”

“It was all of us running together,” said Morrow, the youngest and, on this day, the fastest of the Panthers. “The way we stayed together was important. Our teamwork and motivating each other (were keys).”

Of her individual performance, Morrow gave credit elsewhere.

“To God be the glory,” said said. “I never thought about this when practice started.”

“It just goes to show that you never know,” said Boos. “There are always surprises from year to year. Sierra and Tally both came in this year, and we needed them to, especially with (previous all-state runner) Alyssa (Rodriguez) injured all season. They gave us some insurance all season.

They kept improving throughout the year and the other runners did a good job of staying close throughout the race.”

The Panthers' coach also noted that his team's ability to avoid major injury throughout the season played a huge role in the school's success.

Powell was never able to line up more than six runners in any girls' varsity race this season, but, with the exception of a late-addition meet at Billings the day after Homecoming, the squad was always able to field at least five runners to remain in contention for team awards.

Only MacDonald graduates from the Panthers' state championship roster next spring. By contrast, Powell could bring back as many as four runners next season with all-state honors to their credit.

That's further in the future than the Panthers' coach wants to think for the moment.

“We're going to enjoy this one,” said Boos. “It's a nice culmination to a very good season.”

3A team standings —Powell 57, Jackson 87, Lander 94, Cody 94, Buffalo 115, Douglas 117, Glenrock 184, Newcastle 184, Torrington 188, Lyman 241.