The young Rocky Mountain Grizzlies cross country team had a strong day at the Wyoming State Cross Country meet held at the Douglas Country Club Saturday, with four runners placing in the top 25.
The Grizzly boys placed fourth overall with 75 points, trailing champion Wyoming Indian (17), Pine Bluffs/Burns (44) and Saratoga (65) and beating Hulett/Sundance (88), Lovell (98), Moorcroft (111), Wright (175) and Normative Services (186).
Rocky junior Michael Bernhisel just missed earning all-state honors, placing 11th with a time of 18:49.54, two seconds behind Quinn Harrington of Saratoga and five seconds faster than he ran a year ago when he placed fourth on the same course.
Burlington junior Nate Davidson placed 18th Saturday with a time of 19:32.17, 31 seconds faster than his time of a year ago. Also placing in the top 25 were Rocky freshman Casey Banks, who placed 23rd with a time of 20:08.17, and Burlington senior Lance Schatz, who ran the course in 20:16.10 to place 25th.
Other Rocky Mountain competitors were sophomore Jake Loyning, 35th with a time of 21:04.28, senior Jackson Stephens, 39th at 21:15.62 and junior Brady Winland, 41st at 21:29.59.
On the girls side, sisters Kelly and Cassy Vezain placed 30th and 32nd, respectively, Kelly with a time of 26:39.79 and Cassy at 26:45.82.
Coach John Bernhisel was not able to comment on the meet, but assistant coach Penny Tolman told the Basin Republican Rustler, “Exceptional is the best way to describe the cross-country runners who represented our schools at state. They have character beyond their years. As a team we ran faster than five other teams if you look at it with the glass half full. Everyone gave their all in spite of nagging sickness. It truly shows what you’re made of when there’s no timeouts and no subs no matter how hard it is to keep going.
“Individually, our athletes increased their improvement margins a great deal, but the other teams improved, too, and adding Pine Bluffs in the mix by moving down from 3A this year pushed us into fourth.
“Lance Schatz will be missed in Burlington and Jackson Stephens in Rocky will also be missed. Both seniors were truly a joy to be around and so coachable.
“Thanks to everyone, athletes, parents and the Rocky Booster Club for support. I’m a runner forever and hope to infect others with the passion.”
By David Peck