Saturday, May 18, 2024

Caribou Trail Champion Cascade Cross Country Team Wraps Up Memorable 2023 Season

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LEAVENWORTH - After charging through the regular season in historical, record-breaking fashion, the Kodiak harriers ran into the postseason with lofty expectations – and they did not disappoint.

At the Caribou Trail League (CTL) Championships at Walla Walla Point Park in Wenatchee on Oct. 24, the lady Kodiaks, led by junior Caroline Menna, took the championship trophies in dominant fashion. For the second straight year, Menna cruised to a comfortable win in the varsity girls’ field to become the 2023 League and District Champion.

She was followed next by teammate junior Grace McDevitt, with junior Alice Farrell, and seniors Paige Nunally and Isabel Menna crossing the line in fourth, fifth and sixth place, respectively, to round out the Kodiak scoring. Junior Harper Baker and sophomore Gwen Pewhoski also raced for the varsity squad and finished solidly in the top 15. Menna (Caroline) was subsequently named CTL Runner-of-the-Year.

The boys CTL Runner-of-the-Year, Brayden Anderson, was nothing short of ascendant this year. The senior, who earlier in the season became the fastest runner in CHS history and won the prestigious Nike Hole in the Wall Invitational, ran alone from the gun to the tape for his third straight individual win to become the 2023 CLT and District 6 Champion. Senior Jasper Bard dashed to second place, followed by junior Ben Jerome in fourth, senior Blue Knutson in seventh, and sophomore Miles Porter in thirteenth. The five Kodiaks outperformed second place Cashmere in the team competition, in which the lowest score wins, 27-56. Freshman Grant Burrill and senior Cruz Martinez, the sixth and seventh CHS varsity runners, also earned starting slots to the state meet in Pasco on Nov. 4.

The CHS Junior Varsity girls’ team, comprised of senior Karina Shiliaeva, junior Napiqua Gibbs, sophomores Jewel Leroy and Kelsea Sheffield, and freshmen Adyson Bradburn and Isabelle Zapalowski, easily won their team race. First and second place finishers Leroy and Bradburn joined the varsity team as alternates at the state race.

The JV boys took second place behind exciting finishes from senior Elijah Walker and junior Damian Sandoval, both of whom earned alternate slots on the Kodiak varsity boys’ team in Pasco. Freshmen Colton Khun and Jayden Parker, and senior Alexis Romero rounded out the Kodiak runners at Walla Walla.

“It was another good year for the team,” reflected Head Coach, Dayle Massey, who continued: “I’m happy for the kids; they worked hard, and it showed. Most of our runners PRed [set a personal record] at least once this season, some several times.”

The Kodiak cadre of nine boys and nine girls rode the league and district winning momentum into the Washington State Cross Country Championships at Pasco’s Sun Willow Golf Course in Pasco ten days later. There, Anderson again shined with a gutsy run to the podium.

He led the boys’ team, who came into the race ranked tenth in the state, to a well-earned eighth place. In addition to Anderson, Bard, Jerome, Knutson, and Porter all scored points for CHS. The girls’ team also finished eighth in the state with Menna (Caroline) leading the top five CHS finishers, McDevitt, Farrell, Menna (Isabel) and Nunnally.

While considering the season, Martinez, who will be one of the team’s captains next year, felt that “as great as our results were as a team and individually, I think the best thing was how we came together as a team. There was a really great social aspect to the team this season.”

Before the Kodiak cross country team shutters itself for the season, it says goodbye and good luck to its seniors, including captains Knutson, Anderson, and Menna (Isabel), and introduces its 2024-25 team leaders, Martinez, Jerome, Farrel and Menna (Caroline). While next year’s team has some big spikes to fill, coaches Massey, Stephanie Astell, and Heleene Tambet are returning nine of their varsity racers and several promising underclassmen.

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