West Grand seniors leave it on the course
Before the start of the West Grand Invitational on Saturday in Kremmling, the Mustangs took a moment to recognize two senior standouts.
Pausing for a second during the race, Coach Ryan Tripicchio recalled how the Mustangs cross country program was a lot of fun last year with graduated senior Jessica Gregory forming the “emotion core” of the team. Now that role has fallen to Samantha Westfahl and Joy Hast, and the program is still a ton of fun.
“Bringing Sam and Joy in the program, we went being a lot of fun to being a lot of fun and also being very, very successful from a race standpoint,” Tripicchio said. “Joy and Sam have been a huge part of the reason why we’ve made it to state multiple years in a row now.”
Competing in their last home meet beneath Kremmling’s cliffs, Westfahl and Hast proved their coach right, as Westfahl finished the course in 23 minutes, 10 seconds and Hast was eighth at 23:45. Westfahl’s time gave her a fourth place finish, the best among any of Grand County runners.
Afterward, Westfahl was pleased with how she did in the last home meet of her high school career.
“Honestly, I just wanted to get out there and have fun,” she said of her thought process during the race. “I was just running for the heck of it because it’s my last time on this course, so why not?”
For Hast, it was a good race too. She said she went into the Mustangs invite knowing it would be her last home meet and she needed to give it her all so she wouldn’t have any regrets.
“I felt really good out there, and I’m really proud of how I raced,” she said after the run.
Not far behind the Mustangs’ seniors were junior Allura Luna, who took 10th, followed by Lillie Steinle and Joana Ramirez. She might not be the Mustangs’ secret anymore, but Tripiccio is calling Luna, who just moved from sea level up to the mountains, the Mustangs’ “secret weapon.” Steinle and Ramirez have been great new additions for the Mustangs as well, the coach added.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the race was capped at 50 runners and didn’t include middle schools, like last year’s invitational did. However, Tripicchio was glad they were still able to pull it all off.
“When you’re directing a meet, everything doesn’t really hit you until afterwards, but I am so happy that we got to do this for (Joy and Sam) their senior year, to be able to have this meet, and to be able to give this experience,” Tripicchio said before crediting the volunteers, school staff and town for making it happen.
In the boys race, West Grand was powered by Galen Wilkinson and Henry Westfahl, who finished 14th and 15th, respectively.
Rounding out the team for the Mustangs were Quentin Fletcher, Brandon Dale, Vincent Schenk and Eric Gregory, all of whom coach Tripicchio is excited to have on the team this year.
As for state, Wilkinson returns this year after qualifying for the big show last year, and Tripiccio said that Westfahl will be extremely hungry to try and punch his ticket this season as well.
Panthers girls run in a tight pack
With volleyball pushed into the spring, the Panthers cross country team has some extra depth this season.
Last week at Platte Canyon High School, Leah Cormican led the way for the Panthers, followed by Cameryn Friesen, Madison Trail, Sierra Manyak and Sylvia Brower.
This week, the top of Middle Park’s order flopped, as Katie Trail led the way in 23:47, followed by her younger sister Madison Trail, Cormican, Manyak and Friesen. With the top five runners separated by just 2 minutes, 10 seconds, the Middle Park girls finished the meet in Kremmling second to Steamboat Springs.
“It’s exciting,” coach Beth Merrick said of the strength of the Panthers team this season. “It’s very exciting.”
In the boys race, senior Ethan Callarman completed the race in 20:10 and finished seventh while the Middle Park boys finished fourth overall. At 25th and 26th, Dane Jensen and Jacob Gallagher completed the race in just over 22 minutes.
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