Strong performances by the team’s top three boys propelled the Lovell Bulldogs to a solid second-place finish at the Class 2A West Regional cross-country meet at the Legion Country Club in Thermopolis Friday.
Lovell placed second behind regional champion Wyoming Indian and ahead of third-place Rocky Mountain. Wyoming Indian finished with 17 points, Lovell 31 and Rocky 45.
Junior AJ Dickson and sophomore Jacob Newman challenged regional champion Wilson Clifford of WIHS. Clifford won with a time of 18:01, and Dickson placed second at 18:16, Newman third at 18:18. Harley Rhodes of Thermopolis placed fourth with a time of 18:38.
“All four of the top four boys were together until mile two, and Harley dropped off by the top of the hill,” Coach Caleb Sanders said. “Going down the hill Wilson separated a little bit. It was a very good performance. Those are four of the top runners in the state. I think it’ll come down to those four.
“I was really happy for AJ and Jacob. They were right there in the thick of it for a regional title.”
Junior Mysen McArthur barely missed the top 10, placing 11th with a time of 19:59.
“Mysen ran really good. He really attacked that course,” Sanders said. “I actually had him for 19:45. The course is difficult. That was probably Mysen’s best race.
“I wish someone would step up as the fourth runner. We could compete for the number two spot at state.”
Junior Alex Sawaya became sick during the race and had to stop running, and junior Andrew Mayes finished 20th with a time of 21:33, sophomore Dillon Schneider 24th at 23:14, senior Derek Phelps 27th at 24:49, junior Dylan Ohman 28th at 25:56 and sophomore Konner Davis 29th at 26:56.
The Lovell girls placed third behind champion Wyoming Indian (23) and host Thermop (32), finishing with 39 points. Rocky was fourth with 63.
Sophomore Jaclyn Caldwell thrived on the hilly course and placed third behind Wyoming Indian freshman Charlene Brown and Thermop’s Jules Ward. Caldwell ran a time of 21:28.35, edging senior teammate Kim Shumway, who finished fourth in 22:07.93.
“Jackie is pretty good at hills,” Sanders said. “That was to her advantage. She ran very well.
“I thought coming in that Jules was the best runner in the state. She had beaten Jackie by a minute and a half in Worland, but by only 21 seconds Friday. That was impressive. I hope she can sustain it on a flatter course.”
Sanders said Shumway was also strong.
“Kim ran a decent race,” he said. “Her time was representative of the type of course it was.”
Sophomore Afton George defied the course and ran a personal record to place 16th with a time of 26:49.99. Sophomore Caitlyn Lundberg placed 21st at 27:46.24, Mylee McArthur 24th at 35:58.40.
Sanders named George as the runner of the week, noting, “She ran a personal best on a very difficult course. It’s not the type of course you can get personal bests on unless you really get after it.”
Freshman Jazmyn See started the race, but her injured knee started acting up on her and she had to withdraw, Sanders said.
Six Lovell runners – three boys and three girls – ran in the middle school regional before the high school races. Brent Snyder was the top finisher for the boys, Jessica Caldwell for the girls. Also running were James Caldwell, Ben Cornia, Lauren Mitchell and Patti Sanders.
“I was proud of the runners who came,” Coach Sanders said. “It was optional.”
State in Sheridan
The State Cross Country Meet is in Sheridan this Saturday at the VA Hospital grounds. The 2A boys run at 11:30 a.m. and the 2A girls at 1:20 p.m.
“The girls will have to adjust to being in the last race,” Sanders said. “Mentally, that will be a challenge.
“The course is spectator friendly. It’s not a bad course. We might see some records go down.”
by David Peck