At halfway point, West Grand volleyball, cross-country and cheer are feeling spirited |

At halfway point, West Grand volleyball, cross-country and cheer are feeling spirited

From left, West Grand’s Sara Lechman, Evelyn Amaya and Kate Farley run together during the girls cross country race on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, at Loudy-Simpson Park in Craig.
Eli Pace/Courtesy Photo

West Grand High School’s sports teams are just over their halfway point for the season and they’re going strong. Cross-country head coach Ryan Tripicchio, volleyball head coach Andrew Mericle and cheer coach Kendra Holmes recently offered updates on each team’s progress.

Cross-country running strong

Tripicchio said West Grand’s biggest team in history, with 10 boys and seven girls, heads to Delta this weekend for a preview of their regional championship course, along with Middle Park High’s team.

Seniors Henry Westfahl and Brayden James lead the boys team, followed by juniors Alejo Aguilar-Pineiro, Vince Schenk, and Joel Gonzalez; sophomores Dean Ratcliff, Wyatt Guthrie, Esteban Aguilar-Pineiro, and Luke Leaghty; and freshman Collin Farley. 

West Grand’s Brayden James competes in the boys cross country race on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, at Loudy-Simpson Park in Craig. James turned in the top time for the Mustangs, finishing 15th overall at 18:59. | Eli Pace/Steamboat Pilot & Today
Eli Pace/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Freshmen Gracie Hast and senior Kate Farley lead the girls team, with juniors Louisa Parmenter and Lillian Hufford, sophomores Sara Lechman and Evelyn Amaya, and freshman Brooke James rounding it out. 

Tripicchio said the team’s biggest strength is that they run well together and “have each other’s backs.” He added that he looks at every team they compete against as “our greatest competition but our greatest friends.” 

“We are genuinely having a great time with each other and having fun this season,” Tripicchio added. “(That) to me, before any kind of state championships or wins, is what makes this a successful season already.” 

Volleyballers playing well, with high expectations

The Mustangs’ volleyball team currently stands at 9 – 4 overall for the season, said head coach Andrew Mericle. They’re ranked 17th in Class 2a and battling to compete in the 2a/1a Western Slope League, he added.

“We are led by starting seniors Sage Lechman (Captain), Morgan Nelson and Lily Butler,” said Mericle. “Other starters are sophomores Sara Lechman, Taylor Martinson and Luci Bruchez, and freshman Libero Karla Gonzalez.We have strong bench support led by junior Celia Guzman as well as sophomores Makaila Gifford and Taylin Harthun.”

Seniors Morgan Nelson (1) and Sage Lechman (25) discuss pre-match strategy while Senior Lily Butler (10) looks on and sophomore Taylor Martinson (11) prepares herself for action| Andrew Mericle/Courtesy Photo
Andrew Mericle/Courtesy Photo
Andrew Mericle/Courtesy Photo

Mericle said the girls are playing hard and have high expectations. “Our program played in the state tournament in 2019, followed by back-to-back regional playoff seasons in spring of 2021 (Covid season) and last fall of ’21, so we know what we are capable of. This homecoming weekend includes important home matches against Soroco and North Fork, which will begin the home stretch.”

Spirit team seeks a 2021 repeat

West Grand’s spirit team consists of cheer and dance, said head coach Kendra Holmes and its pom team will compete at regionals and state. “We had our choreography day September 17 and we’re feeling very excited,” she added. “We were runner-up last year and champions the year before so we are hoping to bring it home again.”

The West Grand pom team at girls volleyball this season.
Kendra Holmes/Courtesy Photo

Holmes added that West Grand also has a new middle school spirit program that started this year. “I went to the board of education last May to petition to start a new team. It has been very successful and we can’t wait to see Spirit at West Grand continue to grow!” she said.

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