(From left) Anna Hammond, Ali Hirt, Auburn Jackman, Jessica Anderson and Josie Wakefield comprise the Grand County Middle School girls cross country team, which finished the season by placing fifth at the John Thornton Invitational in Blanding on Wednesday, Oct. 1. [Photo courtesy of Rachel Stenta]

The Grand County Middle School cross country team finished the 2014 season on Wednesday, Oct. 1 with a strong showing at the John Thornton Invitational meet in Blanding. The boys team had its best performance of the season finishing in second place out of six teams. The boys narrowly missed first place, as team champion Monticello edged out Grand by two points, with a score of 48 points to Grand’s 50.

Grand took home the boys individual crown, however, as 7th-grader Evan Ellison ran an inspired race to take the top spot out of 74 runners. Ellison fought a tough head-to-head battle with Adam Bunker from Monticello, ultimately taking the lead for good in the final quarter mile of the two-mile race and finishing with a time of 12:23. Bunker had been undefeated this season coming into the meet, including three convincing wins over Ellison in their previous meetings.

Joining Ellison in the top ten were teammates Braxton Pierce (fifth) and Nolan Ramirez (seventh). In fact, Grand placed all of its runners in the top 25 for the first time ever, with Soren Indergard (15th), Alex Lacy (22nd) and Jacob Andrew (23rd) rounding out the scoring for the team. The first-place Buckaroos and second-place Thunderbirds each got trophies for their performance.

The girls team also put forth a fine effort, pacing itself well on the longer than normal two-mile course. The girls in red were led by teammates Ali Hirt and Auburn Jackman who finished in fifth and sixth place respectively, despite passing the half-mile point in about 20th place. Jackman, the lone 8th-grader on the girls team, was followed by teammates Jessie Anderson, (35th), Josie Wakefield (40th) and Anna Hammond (56th). The lady Thunderbirds finished fifth as a team.

Coaches Dan Stenta and Ranna Bieschke were pleased with the team’s performance at the Blanding meet and the season in general. They noted that almost everyone on the team showed significant improvement over the course of the season and that the team members supported each other. They said the runners show a lot of promise for the 2015 season. To read more about the Thunderbirds’ 2014 season, visit their blog at: http://gcms-xcountry.blogspot.com/.

7th-grader Evan Ellison takes individual meet title