Lovell harriers run well at Conference on challenging course

David Peck
After a one-day delay, the Lovell High School cross country team ran at the Five Rivers Conference/2A West Regional cross country meet at Wyoming Indian High School in Ethete Friday, and coach Caleb Sanders was pleased with how his team performed.

The meet had originally been scheduled for Friday, then moved to Thursday to accommodate some scheduling at WIHS. But after cold, wet weather struck the state last week, the meet was moved back to Friday, though at an earlier hour – noon.

“We were fortunate that the Five Rivers Conference cross country meet was changed from Thursday to Friday. The weather was calm and mild on Friday, perfect for running,” Sanders said. “Ft. Washakie was hosting but used Wyoming Indian’s course and facilities. The course had very little mud on it from the rain the previous day, which was a surprise. They have really done a nice job with that course. We knew we would be up in elevation and that the course would be a little more challenging compared to the previous week, so we weren’t necessarily shooting for personal records. We just wanted to race well at Conference.”

The Lovell boys team placed fourth behind team champion Burlington with 60 points. Burlington won the meet with 24 points, followed by Wyoming Indian with 27 points and Thermopolis with 45. After Lovell’s
60 points, Wind River had 108 points, Rocky Mountain 117.

The top runner for the Bulldogs was sophomore David Durfee, who placed ninth in a time of 19:31, one second faster than his time on the same
course one year ago at the state meet.

“He really showed some determination and earned all-conference honors (top 10) with that race,” Sanders said. “We as coaches were very proud of his effort and the conference honors that he earned.”

Coming in not far behind Durfee was fellow sophomore Jacob Thomas, who placed 11th in a time of 19:43, a full three minutes faster than he ran a year ago at State in Ethete (22:49).

“Jacob just missed out on all-conference. He had moved himself into contention and was in 10th place but got out-sprinted in the final stretch of the race,” Sanders said.

Junior Stetson Asay placed a solid 20th, finishing the course in 20:09, more than two minutes faster than his time at State as a sophomore in Ethete (22:21).

“Stetson ran a gutsy race and really went after it, but the final mile proved challenging,” Sanders said. “He had himself in a good position for most of the race and was really pushing for that top 10.”

Close behind Asay was senior AJ Clark, placing 22nd in 20:17.

“AJ really ran the first two miles with determination, but the last mile proved to be an obstacle. I am looking forward to him having a bounce-back race at state,” Sanders noted.

Coming in at 20:47 was junior Dino DeLaCruz, placing 29th.

“Dino had a nice bounce-back race this week,” Sanders said. “I know that he wanted to do better than he did the previous week, and he showed that by racing tough.”

Hot on his heels was sophomore Jay Mayes, who placed 30th in a time of 20:50. Freshman brother Sam Mayes finished 34th in 21:17. Also competing were sophomore Hugh Carpenter, 46th in 22:49, sophomore Cash Wassmer, 48th in 22:56, sophomore Jaxen Clark, 52nd in 23:47, and
junior Thane Zollman 55th in 24:31.

“Jay, Sam, Hugh, Cash, Jaxen and Thane really raced well,” Sanders said. “Nobody had a bad race. I was proud of this team. They came to run hard, and that is exactly what they did. They have done this all season.
I am grateful for our non-scoring runners because they really pushed our other runners to be faster. This has been a competitive team.”

Sophomore Owen Hill missed the meet due to a family event but will be able to race this weekend at the state meet.

Girls results

The top runner for the Lady Bulldogs was senior Keyanna Walker, who placed 14th in a time of 25:19, her second fastest time of the season and just 12 seconds off her personal record on a tougher course compared to Powell, where she set her PR a week earlier.

Walker ran more than two minutes faster than her time on the same course at the state meet a year ago (27:34).

“She ran a very complete race and probably her best race of her career,” Sanders said. “That (being off her PR by just 12 seconds) is impressive on this course. Keyanna was fighting for all-conference position for most of the race.

“She really came to race hard. I know that last mile really forced a lot of determination out of her. She is having a great senior season.”

Fellow senior Sadie Wassmer placed 20th in a time of 27:04, and coming in right behind her was freshman Candace Walker, 21st in 27:11. Senior Hallie Cornia placed 22nd in 27:33, sophomore Atlee Sanders 26th in 28:02. Sanders’ time was a minute and a half faster than her time at State as a freshman (29:37).

“Sadie really put together a fine race. She wishes that she had done cross country last year, as well,” Sanders said. “I love it when people embrace the sport with that kind of attitude. Candace had a good run. She has really put together a fine season and held consistent, which is not always easy for a freshman to do. Atlee raced well and has been racing well. I appreciate the consistency, and I love seeing the kids get in shape and improve during the course of the season.

“We as coaches were excited to see Hallie be able to race. She has been excited to race despite the pain from her injury. She just wants to utilize her senior year and not miss out on opportunities, despite the setbacks. She has handled the whole situation gracefully, and I couldn’t be prouder.”

The Lady Bulldogs placed third behind Wyoming Indian and Thermopolis with 47 points. WIHS had 14 points, Thermop 38 and Rocky Mountain 68, one spot behind Lovell.

As the season winds down, Sanders said he appreciates the
coaching of assistant Bret George and volunteer Scotty Savage.

“I appreciate coach George and his focus on helping our kids,” he said. “It has been very helpful, especially since I haven’t been able to run with the kids as much this season as I would like. I also appreciate our volunteer coach, Scotty Savage, for what he has put in the last few weeks.”

The state cross country meet is this Saturday at the Cheyenne Country Club. The 2A boys race at 11 a.m., the 2A girls at 12:30 p.m.

“We are excited to go to Cheyenne this week for State,” Sanders said. “It looks like the
weather will be nice. I don’t know much about the course, but we are excited to race on it.”