Leading the way for the Lady Devil distance runners was senior Mercedes James, who finished with a time of 20:36 over the rugged and hilly three-mile course. James finished in eighth place out of a field of 77 runners in the race, earning all-state recognition for the third time in four years.
”Mercedes ran an outstanding race from start to finish,” GCHS cross country coach Randy Martin said. ”She sprinted early to race with a group of runners in the front pack and held on and gutted it out the entire way.”
Also for Grand, freshman Jayelen Knowles finished the race in 22:20; sophomore Lauren Drake crossed the finish line in a time of 24:06; freshman Alexa Pierce finished with a time of 24:25; and sophomore Annie Heywood crossed the finish line with a time of 24:59.
”Our girls raced faster and faster as the season went along,” Martin said. ”It is a credit to the hard work they put in all season that they finished the season as well as they did.”
GCHS senior Jackson Knowles led the Red Devil boys distance runners, crossing the finish line with a time of 18:01. Knowles placed 22nd among field of 91 runners in the race.
”The boys’ team had high expectations heading into the race and the 10th place finish is disappointing,” Martin said. ”I know our runners ran hard the entire race, but it just was not our day.”
Rounding out the top five for the Red Devil boys were senior Treyton Helquist, who finished with a time of 18:34; junior Andrew Hugentobler, who completed the race in a time of 19:04; senior Adam Jenkinson, who crossed the finish line with a time of 19:32; and freshman Alan Snow, who had a final time of 19:47.
Freshman Cameron Wakefield crossed the finish line with a time of 20:04 and junior Mason Tranter finished with a time of 20:41, Martin said.
The news was not all bad for the boys’ team, however, as Jenkinson earned academic all-state recognition. He was awarded with a framed certificate immediately following his race.
Though the 2013 season has come to an end, Martin said the future for high school distance running at Grand County is “very bright.”
“Though we lose a number of seniors to graduation who have been with the program for four years, we have a very talented group of underclassman who should step in and carry the program,” Martin said.