Going in to the state championships, Boos knew the Panthers faced a difficult battle. Jackson, which cruised to the 3A West title the previous week, was an overwhelming favorite unless its bus broke down crossing the state. Newcastle, the defending …
After poor regional meet, Panthers find redemptionA disappointing regional finish provided all the motivation the Powell High School boys' cross country team needed on Saturday in Douglas. After placing fifth the previous week in Lyman, the Panthers rebounded nicely, wrapping up their season with a third-place finish at the 3A state championships. “It was nice to see after how hard they worked the previous week,” said Powell cross country coach Cliff Boos. “They really wanted to go out and show that they were capable of running better than they had the week before. You could just see the focus they had this week getting ready.”
Going in to the state championships, Boos knew the Panthers faced a difficult battle. Jackson, which cruised to the 3A West title the previous week, was an overwhelming favorite unless its bus broke down crossing the state. Newcastle, the defending 3A state champion, was rumored to have a solid squad in the east.
While those two schools eventually would take their place at the head of the 3A class on Saturday, the Panthers made life far, far more intriguing.
For the second year, junior Bodie Friday paced the Panthers to the finish line. Friday completed the five-kilometer course in a time of 18:18 to finish in 13th place. Senior teammate John Kissner was 10 seconds back in 16th position to give Powell a pair of top-20 finishers.
Much like the girls' team, fans didn't have to wait long for the rest of Powell's team to cross the finish line. Cody Fagley finished in 24th position with a time of 18:57. Danny McKearney added a 33rd-place finish in 19:09 and sophomore Andrew Feller made it a 62-second split from the top to the bottom of Powell's scoring lineup with a time of 19:20, good enough to place 39th overall.
Tyler McCauley (65th, 20:27) and Justin Lynn (74th, 21:04) rounded out Powell's state roster. A total of 99 runners stepped into the chute for the 3A championship race.
As a team, Powell finished with a score of 125 points. Jackson, placing four runners in the top nine, cruised to the 3A title with a score of 35. The Panthers remained very much in touch with 3A runner-up Newcastle, which finished with a score of 108.
“Seeing the improvement from last week to this week was great,” said Boos, whose team finished 38 points in back of 3A West runner-up Lander last week, but rallied to finish 28 points in front of the Tigers in Douglas. “You always want the kids to come to state, to have their best meet and to run up to their potential. I think the boys really did that.”
Boos hinted that the nature of the state meet may have played in Powell's favor to a degree.
“When you have a big field, there's more runners slipping in ahead of those slower runners,” said Boos. “Our guys did a nice job of running together. We had a 62-second split from first to fifth. When you can run in a group like that, there's not as many chances for people to come in and knock you down the standings.”
That said, the Panthers still ran a great race, the Panthers' coach added.
Four of the seven members of the Panthers' state lineup —Fagley, McCauley, Kissner and McKearney —will graduate this spring. Boos noted their contributions will be missed next season.
“Having a big senior class was so instrumental for us,” said Boos. “Not just the four guys in Douglas, but also the ones that ran during the regular season.”
Eight of the 16 runners on Powell's roster this season were seniors.