Griffen Parsells is the best Department of Defense Departments Schools’ cross country runner in Europe. He proved that Saturday by winning the European championships at Baumholder despite crummy weather, a strong field, falling in a mudhole, and not feeling well. The Kaiserslautern junior never trailed and clocked a time of 17:07 minutes, five seconds in front of Stuttgart’s Tyler Wilson and Ramstein’s Conner Mackie.
“After I fell, I was surprised. But I looked behind me and saw the rest of the runners coming fast, so I got up and started running again. They caught up quite a bit at that time,” Parcells said. “My dad was following along and said that after the first lap I was up by 100 yards. But after the second it was more like 50. So I had to really push.” So hard, in fact, that he practically collapsed from exhaustion at the finish line. Wilson finished hard, but Parsells had enough to win.
Stuttgart’s depth was overwhelming as the Panthers easily won the boys division with Kaiserslautern the runners up. The Raiders’ Ethan Cooper was sixth and Ramstein sophomore Ben Brewster finished eighth. The rest of the top ten were all Panthers. Baumholder’s best was Jacob Cruz.
The girls’ race opened the meet. After having to restart because one the runners fell at the beginning, Stuttgart’s McKinley Fielding grabbed the lead immediately and cruised past the finish line one minute and 40 seconds ahead of her competitors. Her time of 18:39 minutes crushed the European record by five seconds and, along with her performances in track, gave her six overall European championships, three of them records. The junior would have had eight, but came in second at her weight class in wrestling two years running.
Kaiserslautern’s Kayla Ballard was sixth, Piper Parsells 13th and Ramstein’s Alexis Pierre-Louis was 21st.
Baumholder’s top finisher was Madi Brech.
Stuttgart had 44 points to Kaiserslautern’s 86. Wiesbaden was third.
Parsells will be back to defend his title and shoot for the European record next fall. But for Fielding, this was her last cross country championship due to an upcoming relocation.