The Lovell Bulldogs passed the midpoint of the 2016 cross country season this week with a pair of meets close to home, competing in Cody Friday and at the Foster Gulch Golf Course west of Lovell on Monday.
The team enjoyed a different format in the form of a fox and house race Friday at the Olive Glenn Golf Course in Cody where teams’ slower runners started first and each successive faster runner started 20 seconds after his or her teammate.
“The fox and hound format was something different and unique for the back runners,” coach Caleb Sanders said. “Being chased gives them a shot of adrenalin. I think you see positive results in a race like that in a lot of areas, more so with the back kids. They feel like they’re in a race.”
The top finisher for the Lady Bulldogs was junior Jessica Caldwell, who placed ninth in actual race time, crossing the finish line in 22:41. Freshman Patti Sanders nearly made the top 10, placing 12th with a time of 23:25.
Coach Sanders said Caldwell is running consistently and is “where she needs to be,” and he said Patti Sanders continues to run well.
“We’re still learning about Patti (as a freshman),” he said, noting that the Cody meet showed that her strong showing in Sheridan a week earlier “wasn’t a fluke” as a breakout race for her.
Sophomore Megan Cornia finished 23rd with a time of 25:49, Addie Dickson 25th at 26:16, Temperance Mickelson 28th at 28:32 and Sariah Hendershot 30th at 25:49.
Sanders named Dickson as one of the team’s runners of the week because of how much time she dropped from the Sheridan meet a week earlier, noting that the freshman carved a full second off of her time on a comparable course. Cornia also showed “considerable improvement,” Sanders said, adding, “Those two really stood out.”
It was a warm day for the Rocky Mountain Invitational Monday, and Caldwell was once again the top Lovell finisher, placing seventh with a time of 22:51. Also strong were Patti Sanders, 10th with a time of 23:26, and freshman Lauren Mitchell, 11th at 23:43, benefiting from some time away from racing, Coach Sanders said. Cornia was also strong, placing 19th with a time of 25:47.
“The top four performed really well,” Sanders said.
Other Lovell runners were Dickson, 22nd with a time of 28:00; Mylee McArthur, 24th at 28:29; Mickelson, 26th at 29:37; Savannah Jolley, 27th at 30:07; and Hendershot, 28th at 33:13.
Junior Brent Snyder turned in a pair of top 10 finishes for the Bulldogs this week, placing 10th in Cody Friday with a time of 19:08, then placing sixth on Monday at Foster Gulch with a stronger run, finishing the course in 18:19.
Freshman James Caldwell also ran much stronger on Monday than he did Friday, finishing 19th in Cody with a time of 19:59 but coming in 12th at the Rocky Mountain Invitational with a time of 19:13.
“That wasn’t great for Brent (19:08 in Cody), and he knew that,” Sanders said. “Same with James. That (19:59) wasn’t a great time for him. But Monday was a really good race for Brent. It was one of his best 5 Ks. He likes being out on his own (not in the middle of a pack). He likes doing his own thing. He runs well that way.
“James should be an 18-minute runner. He’s still got to figure out some things, from aches and pains to high school running.”
For sophomore Hunter Steenbakkers, it was a mixed bag this week. He first ran a personal record time of 20:09 Friday in Cody and finished 20th, hot on the heels of Caldwell, but having suffered from leg cramps during the season, he tightened up at Foster Gulch Monday, finishing 31st with a time of 21:45.
Junior Ben Cornia was solid in both meets, finishing 23rd in Cody with a time of 20:23 and 21st on Monday, crossing the finish line in 20:11.
“We view Ben as a 19-minute runner,” Sanders said. “He just isn’t there yet. He needs to start running 19s. He can do it.”
Also having a solid week was sophomore Brenden Lundberg, who has been working on his breathing, Sanders said. Lundberg placed 31st in Cody with a time of 21:37, and he ran 21:30 at Foster Gulch to finish 29th.
“He’s showing he can be consistent,” Sanders said. “That’s two meets in a row.”
Senior Kyle Burton ran 24:51 in Cody (41st) and 24:26 at Foster Gulch (38th).
The Bulldogs will travel to Sheridan County Friday for the inaugural Big Horn Invitational at the Powder Horn Golf Course. Running begins at 4 p.m.
“It’s the first cross country meet they’ve ever hosted,” Sanders said. “That’s why we want to go, to support a 2A school and see what they have to offer.”
By David Peck