CROSS COUNTRY: Zeke Crockett sets new personal record, places fifth at Lewis and Clark State College

(GENO LUDWIG/Chewelah Independent)

GETTING STARTED: Chewelah Cougars get strong performances from the Crockett boys, freshman Rebekah Whittikiend and Kiana Johnson…

Chewelah’s Zeke Crockett ran his fastest-ever 5000-meter time in competition last Saturday at Lewis and Clark State College when he finished fifth overall in the opening cross-country meet of the season. Crockett’s time of 17 minutes, 35 seconds erased his old top career time of 17:42. Freshman Ty Crockett opened his high school career with a time of 18:45, placing 14th overall. Both brothers will be attempting to beat their father Shawn Crockett’s best time of 15:34, set back in 1986. Senior Josh Grooms placed 36th with a time of 20:44. With only three runners on the course, Chewelah did not qualify for a team score. The meet was hosted by Asotin, which won the team event.

“It was a three-hour drive down to Lewiston, so I told the kids that if they came all that way to race, they have to stay focused on what they went there for,” said Coach Lindsey Lange. “We have a small team this year, but the kids are fast, strong and competitive. They all ran good races. Zeke set a personal record, Ty ran under 20 minutes in his first outing as a freshman and Josh was within a minute of his best time.

“Our boys’ team ran without two runners. Josh Foster is struggling through a foot injury and his doctor thought it best that he sit this race out. Wyatt Toleman had a prior commitment, but he should be with us this Saturday. If both can run, we will have a boys’ team. We have only two girls, so they will not be able to run as a team.”

Easton Pomrankey from Kettle Falls won the race with a tie of 16 minutes, 08 seconds. Teammates Zane Edwards (17:38), Elijah Bruland (18:21) and Asher Kenney (18:21) helped the Bulldogs place a close second to Asotin.

In the varsity girls’ race, freshman Rebekah Whittikiend from Paideia High School who is running for the Cougars, placed 10th in 23:56, and senior Kiana Johnson placed 12th in 25:09. Mia Edwards from Kettle Falls finished third (19:13).

“Kiana has been fighting a knee injury for four years, but she is determined to finish her senior year as a runner,” Lang said. “This could be her fourth year running in the state meet. Rebecca is only a freshman, but she is a natural runner.”

The Cougars will be running on their own course around the high school ballfields this Saturday, March 6, when the Northeast 2B League runners come to Chewelah for their second league meet of the season. The weather forecast for the week indicates a snow-free trail.