While it may not have been as large of a bump as the year prior, the Powell Middle School cross country team finished with more athletes in 2023 than any year before with 35 coming out to join the …
While it may not have been as large of a bump as the year prior, the Powell Middle School cross country team finished with more athletes in 2023 than any year before with 35 coming out to join the squad.
The girls finished as one of the top teams in the conference this season, ending the year with a second place finish at the conference meet in Powell led by a ninth place finish by Macie Velasco.
She was joined by Anyston Keller in 10th, Kara Sanders in 13th, Lynea Christensen in 15th, Avery LeBlanc in 19th and Karen Richmond in 20th to give the Cubs six of the top 20 racers.
“The girls were a solid scoring team. Running together and when healthy, they would finish no lower than third,” coach Marc McArthur said. “Macie had to overcome a few weeks of health concerns but finished the season where she started — on top for the girls.”
On the boys’ side, the Cubs were led in part by Alex Werner, who McArthur said stepped up this season alongside Velasco on the girls’ side to become leaders for the program.
“Alex and Macie came back this year as leaders,” McArthur said. “They set the pace and example for practice and during the meets.”
Werner ended up finishing no lower than third in all of his races this season and had one victory in the 2023 campaign while finishing third at the conference meet to end the year.
He led a team that ended up fifth overall in that meet, with Michael Stensing finishing 18th, Rhett Goolsbey in 29th, Channing Wenzel in 32nd and Damian Rakness in 41st.
“I would say this year’s teams were consistent,” McArthur said. “As a whole, the runners progressively got stronger physically and mentally as they built on past years or figured out how to run the 2-mile courses.”
Throughout the year, McArthur said the coaches attempted to instill the confidence in the runners to do their best each and every time.
“We had ingrained into the athletes that we do our best, especially on race day,” McArthur said. “(We told them to) individually challenge yourself beyond what you feel you can do and push further. You do your best and the team results will reflect that.”
He added that the sportsmanship displayed by the team was incredible throughout the season as teammates continued to help each other across the line at the expense of personal success.
“Multiple occasions this season we had runners assisting their teammates or other school members during the race at the expense of their personal success or surpassing their times,” McArthur said. “A great show of sportsmanship, but a bit vexing for the coaches.”
The team will return more than three-quarters of the athletes moving forward, with only eight runners heading to the high school level and 27 eligible to return next season for the Cubs.
“A great group of athletes,” McArthur added.