The Rocky Mountain Grizzlies showed improvement from Monday to Thursday last week as they competed at the Worland Invitational Thursday after hosting their own invitational at Foster Gulch three days earlier.
“It’s always hard to compare times at meets, however Worland’s meet was on a golf course and it’s a similar course to ours, so I think to make a comparison, we definitely had better times across the board,” coach John Bernhisel said. “I can’t pretend to explain why. We just had a better meet. It was incredibly hot, so I was pleased. The middle of the season sometimes gets hard. The kids are running every day and can experience a bit of a mid-season lapse. We went just a bit easier Tuesday and Wednesday to we would have fresh legs on Thursday, and it made a difference.”
Worried about keeping legs fresh, Bernhisel has canceled Rocky’s participation in the Wright Invitational on Saturday, though the Grizz will run in Thermopolis Friday. He had planned to take a few runners to Wright but decided against it.
“It’s a bit much in the middle of the season,” he said. “I can tell our kids don’t need the extra meet.”
In Worland, officials decided to run both the varsity and junior varsity divisions together in one girls race and one boys race. Bernhisel had already entered some athletes in varsity and others in JV, so he kept the lineup.
Junior Dominic Twomey was Rocky’s lone boys varsity entrant, and he ran well in Worland, placing 15th with a time of 18:44.66, more than a minute faster than the Rocky meet on Monday.
“Dominic had a bad race Monday, but he really shined Thursday in Worland,” Bernhisel said. “I was pleased.”
Six Grizzlies competed in the junior varsity boys division, and junior Zack Milbrad continued to show promise, placing 10th with a time of 20:25.66, while sophomore Stephen Preator was close behind in 12th at 20:27.21.
“Zack is working better in practice than he ever has, and Stephen clearly is in our top three or four runners,” Bernhisel said. “It’s nice to see a lot of young runners.”
Sophomore Lathan May and senior Spur Hackney ran neck and neck and placed 23rd and 24th, respectively, with times of 21:28.18 and 21:29.50. Senior Josh McCracken finished 33rd with a time of 22:11.56, junior Trevan Lytle 44th at 23:48.94.
“Josh and Trevan are consistently, over time, picking up their pace and improving,” Bernhisel said. “It’s great. They’re working hard in practice every week.”
All seven members of the Lady Grizz team ran in the junior varsity division and competed well. Freshman Grace Wassmer placed sixth with a time of 24:29.78, and junior Marissa Arnold nearly made the top 10, finishing 11th with a time of 25:40.02. Junior Livia Higgins and freshman Jacque Leonhardt ran neck and neck and placed 15th and 16th, respectively, with times of 25:57.41 and 26:00.72.
“Jacque didn’t finish the race Monday, but she ran smart Thursday,” Bernhisel said. “She ran with Livia and we’re excited about her.
“Grace is a strong runner. She needs to gain some speed, but she’s got great endurance. All of my runners will be working on speed this week, the turnover rate at certain parts of a race.”
Burlington runners Callin Preator and Pacee Garza, both sophomores, finished 23rd and 24th, respectively, with times of 27:28.66 and 28:12.28.
Freshman Lindsay Tindle finished 37th at 36:06.88.
Seventh-grader Zach Simmons placed 13th in the middle school boys race with a time of 13:06.22, and eighth-grader Richard Spann placed 20th at 14:07.97, both improved times from the meet on Monday. George Higgins finished 24th at 14:47.59, Landon Stebner 29th at 15:21.94, Dylan Escalante 39th at 17:40.66 and Michael Escalera 43rd at 19:07.22.
Seventh-grader Elsie Wassmer finished 31st in the girls race with a time of 15:44.56, more than a minute faster than she ran at Foster Gulch.
Both the middle school and high school squads will compete at the Bobcat Invitational in Thermopolis this Friday, with the middle school action beginning at 1 p.m., followed by the high school races at 2.
By David Peck