The Lovell cross country team enjoyed a beautiful day for running Saturday at the state cross-country meet in Sheridan and turned in some outstanding performances.
“It was perfect weather, absolutely gorgeous,” said Coach Caleb Sanders.
The Lovell boys placed a solid third to take home a team trophy, finishing just four points behind second-place Saratoga and eight points ahead of fourth-place Rocky Mountain. Wyoming Indian won its seventh consecutive state title with 20 points, followed by Saratoga with 58 points, Lovell 62, Rocky 70 and Pine Bluffs/Burns 78. There were nine schools competing.
In the girls race the Lady Bulldogs placed fourth with 62 points behind champion Pine Bluffs/Burns with 27 points, Wyoming Indian with 31 and Thermopolis with 58. Wright, Rocky, Moorcroft and Normative Services finished behind Lovell.
“The girls were kind of a surprise,” Sanders said. “They barely missed a trophy (four points). We didn’t know we were that close, and the boys were close to getting second. We’re happy about that.”
Junior AJ Dickson placed third Saturday with a time of 17:29.03, just four seconds behind second-place Jace Walker of Hulett, who finished in a time of 17:25.13. Senior Wilson Clifford of Wyoming Indian was the 2A champion with a time of 17:12.12. Dickson set a personal record for a 5K run, Sanders said.
Also earning all-state honors for the Bulldogs was sophomore Jacob Newman, who placed eighth with a time of 18:09.58.
“AJ was with Wilson and Harley (Rhodes, of Thermopolis) in a group of expected leaders with about 10 runners in front of them for a couple of minutes,” Sanders said. “It was kind of confusing, and Jacob got caught in that confusion and went to the front. That cost him later.
“It didn’t affect AJ. He still ran great. We had two all-state runners, and I’m happy with that.”
Junior Mysen McArthur ran a 5K PR and placed 23rd with a time of 19:33.51. Sophomore Joey Bassett ran a PR to lead a group of three Lovell runners in the middle of the pack, placing 32nd with a time of 20:19.65. Junior Alex Sawaya ran 20:20.07 to finish 33rd, junior Andrew Mayes 20:20.30 for 34th. Sophomore Dillon Schneider ran a time of 22:42.42 to finish 49th.
“Joey broke into our top four and scored for us,” Sanders noted. “He should be commended for stepping up at State. Those three (Bassett, Sawaya and Mayes) all had PRs.
“We did what we were supposed to do. There weren’t really any disappointments. We had several PRs. That’s basically how we envisioned it.”
Sophomore Jaclyn Caldwell continued her late-season surge on Saturday, placing fifth with a time of 21:30.58, edging Pine Bluffs/Burns runner Celeste Morales (21:33.23) and Wyoming Indian’s Auburn Bell (21:34.25). Lovell senior Kim Shumway placed eighth with a time of 21:59.38.
“Jackie started a little slower than last week, but she moved up and I always like to see that,” Sanders said. “There were two girls ahead of her in the last mile, a good distance, probably 75 to 100 yards in front of her.
“It’s usually pretty hard to catch up, but (on the course) I told her ‘you can close the gap’ and she did. She was already all state, but it was a matter of pride.
“I was happy Kim could finish as an all-state runner.”
A pair of sophomores also scored points for the Lady Bulldogs. Caitlyn Lundberg placed 26th with a time of 26:05.31, and Afton George was 29th at 26:28.66.
“Caitlyn and Afton had PRs. In fact, their performances helped lift us to the fourth-place finish,” Sanders said. “I’ve really seen them come a long way. Their performance was pivotal for our team.”
Freshman Jazmyn See finished 40th with a time of 29:13.43, and freshman Mylee McArthur was 42nd at 31:30.54.
Wyoming Indian freshman Charlene Brown won the individual 2A championship with a time of 19:43.80.
“It was a fun day,” Sanders said. “It was fun to watch. Our kids enjoyed watching the other teams, too. There were a ton of parents there to support our kids. I want to thank them for showing up. That makes a difference in how we feel about our program.”
by David Peck