Members of the Grand County Middle School Cross Country Team. Back row: Coach Ranna Bieschke, Ali Hirt, Corah Moody, Josie Wakefield, Soren Indergard, Evan Ellison and Coach Dan Stenta. Front row: Kyha Gritts, Anika Scherer, Kyler Helquist and Jessie Anderson. [Photo courtesy of Dan Stenta]

The Grand County Middle School Cross Country Team finished the 2015 season on Wednesday, Sept. 23, with a strong showing at the John Thorton Invitational meet in Blanding.

The girls team had their best performance of the season, finishing in second place out of the six teams that competed. Grand placed three girls in the top eight of the field of 80 runners, with Kyha Gritts in fourth place, Anika Scherer fifth and Ali Hirt eighth. This trio paced the girls all season, with strong front running in all four of the team’s competitions this year.

At Blanding, it was a true team effort, as the rest of the team stepped it up a notch to boost the team to its second-place finish. For this first time this year, the Grand team placed all its runners in the top half of the field, with Jessie Anderson in 21st place, Corah Moody in 28th, and Josie Wakefield in 39th.

The boys team lacked the necessary five runners to compete in the team competition, but turned in some strong individual performances. Racing against a field of 70 runners, Grand runner Michael Johnson finished in 44th place, Kyler Helquist finished 19th, Soren Indergard finished 10th, and eighth grader Evan Ellison took the individual crown, capping an undefeated season.

Ellison turned in dominant performances to win convincingly at the Moab, Monticello and Blanding meets, and had a thrilling come-from-behind victory against a large field of runners from Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico at the Southwest Sunset Classic meet in Durango, Colorado. The last GCMS runner to go undefeated for the entire season was Morgan Dalton in 2008.

Coaches Dan Stenta and Ranna Bieschke said they were very 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 course of the season, and that the team members were very supportive of each other.

Girls place second out of six teams competing at invitational