As the temperatures continue to steadily decrease in the Big Horn Basin, fall sports have begun to wrap up. Cross country at Powell Middle School is one of the latest sports to finish its 2020 …
As the temperatures continue to steadily decrease in the Big Horn Basin, fall sports have begun to wrap up. Cross country at Powell Middle School is one of the latest sports to finish its 2020 season.
It was a successful year for the Cubs, as head coach Marc McArthur witnessed significant improvement from every runner on his boys’ and girls’ teams.
“Each week, nearly every runner was setting a personal record or was within a few seconds of their best time, which is actually impressive considering the courses change every week,” McArthur said.
More than individual growth from his athletes, the coach saw his team support each other throughout the year, despite the sport’s competitive nature.
“The great thing about cross country is that teammates may be competing against each other, but when they are done running a race, they are cheering on their teammates to the finish while encouraging other runners from around the area,” McArthur said. “By the end of the season, the group wanted to keep running as a team, ‘Just because it is fun.’”
Because cross country is such a grueling sport, McArthur said he often got flack about certain workouts and races. But these challenging endeavors often led to great heights for the young runners.
There was “the occasional ‘I hate you coach for making me do this’ or the ‘don’t talk to me’ when they just turned in a [personal record],” McArthur said. “Yet they show up to practice the next day claiming it was not so bad.”
For the girls’ team, McArthur noted Kinley “Coach” Cooley as a standout, saying she “was the leader that set the example of hard working, placing first for the team and near the top in every race,” the coach said. Other top runners included Jordan Black, Melissa Merritt and Salem Brown.
On the boys’ side, seventh graders Korbyn Warren and Josh Pfeifer were the most consistent finishers. Warren was the boys’ top runner in every event except for the last competition, where Pfeifer defeated him by one second. Paul Cox was the only eighth grader on the team, “rounding out the leadership trio,” McArthur said.
As the eighth grade runners prepare to make the jump to high school, they’ll have to make a decision: whether or not they want to keep running cross country. With so many options of fall sports in high school, it’s unlikely that every Cub will run again next fall at Powell High School.
But McArthur is confident that those who choose to continue their craft will be well-suited — and those who don’t run next year will have still gained something from participating in middle school.
“They are dedicated to the love of running and the feeling of personal accomplishment with team interaction,” McArthur said. “Whether they compete or not, they have participated in a sport that can benefit them for a lifetime.”