By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editorfirstname.lastname@example.org
The wake-up call for the Havre High cross country team was last weekend. Now, with her team's eyes opened to the possibility of serious competition at Saturday's Central A divisional cross country meet, Kim Ray is looking for a change in attitude from her runners.
Ray is looking for someone on her team to take charge, someone who will step forward with this attitude: "We're better than anybody else and we're not going to get beat."
And she's looking for it now.
While her team will assuredly qualify for next weekend's Class A state cross country meet, Ray wants a second-straight divisional title from her squad.
"We have to get just a little bit more competitive as a team," Ray said. "All of the races are run as individuals until these last two races of the season. Still, someone on our squad has to step up and want to win the individual title because we certainly have runners capable of it."
Havre is coming off a narrow first-place finish at its own meet last weekend. Central A rival Lewistown, this weekend's host, finished just one point behind the Ponies in the team standings. It took Shannon Newth's best race of the season to give the Ponies the win.
Ray called it an eye-opener for her team, with Lewistown's top two runners placing ahead of the Ponies' top two runners. For another divisional title, that simply can't happen again.
"We can't let Lewistown's top two runners finish ahead of our top two runners," Ray said. "It's that simple. We know we're better runners than they are, but they showed they just wanted it a little bit more last weekend."
Havre has a trio of runners who could and should finish ahead of Lewistown's Sonya Rogers and Candice Rodriquez.
McKayla Patterson, Mandi Nystrom and Amy McLain finished just behind the Lewistown duo, but Ray believes the trio could do as well as finishing 1-2-3 at divisionals.
"It's not totally unrealistic," Ray said. "McKayla won the individual title in Lewistown earlier this year and Mandi and Amy are right there with her."
Havre must also get solid performances from its remaining four runners - Newth, Kelsey Malsam, Kristine Keltgen and Emily Kostelecky.
"Our sixth and seventh runners need to pick it up a little," Ray said. "They need to be right behind our fifth-place runners because if it's close with Lewistown, it could come down to them to decide the team title."
Ray has preached to her team about being competitive and letting it all loose because Lewistown would like nothing better than to win the title on its home course.
"It's all about beating Havre to them," Ray said. "We need to run the race to get first and not run so conservative. There is nothing to be conservative for in these last two races."
Saturday's race starts at 11 a.m.