By George Ferguson
For the first time, there will be no bus trip this weekend for the Havre High girls cross country team. Instead, the competition will come to Havre as the Ponies host the Havre High Cross Country Invitational on Saturday.
The three-mile race will be held on the Montana State University-Northern campus. The course begins in front of Cowan Hall, winds down over the Havre sledding hill, then proceeds back up the campus front lawn and around the football practice field before winding up in front of Cowan Hall. The loop will be repeated to complete the three mile course.
The Havre course, while very challenging should give the Ponies a distinct advantage on Saturday, according to Havre head coach Kim Ray.
"The course will be very hilly and very tough for everyone," Ray said. "I think we will have an edge, though, because our girls have run the course and they know where the key markers are and where to make crucial moves in the race."
Joining the Ponies will be fellow Class A teams like Browning, Columbia Falls and Lewistown. The defending Class B state champion Cut Bank Wolves will also be at the meet. Other schools include Cascade, Malta, Great Falls Central and several other area Class C schools.
"The competition will be very good at this meet," Ray said. "But these are teams we have seen before and we know a lot of the runners, so again I am feeling very confident about this race."
The Havre lineup may be a little different this week. Andee Peterson is injured and is questionable for Saturday. If Peterson cannot compete, Emily Kostelecky will move back up to the varsity team. Katie Siebrasse returns this week after missing last week's trip to Missoula because of homecoming obligations. Kelsey Malsam will also remain in the varsity lineup after a solid finish at the Mountain West Classic. The rest of the varsity team remains the same as it has been all season.
Besides home course advantage and knowledge of competition, Ray thinks her team has one more advantage on Saturday.
"The fact that we don't have to travel helps a lot as well," Ray said. "Just getting a good night's rest at home is a big advantage in any race."
The day begins with the junior high races at 10 and 10:30 a.m. The junior varsity races follow at 11 and 11:30 a.m. The varsity girls' race begins at 12:20 a.m. and the varsity boys' race begins at 1 p.m.
All the action will begin in front of Cowan Hall on the campus of MSU-Northern at 10 a.m. on Saturday.