By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editoremail@example.com
You can talk about it, practice for it and even try to simulate it in practice, but nothing can replace that first race of the year.
The Havre High girls cross country team finally got to taste a little competition after a long preseason and overall it was pretty sweet.
The Ponies placed four runners in the top 15 and had some nice surprises at last Friday's Cut Bank Time Trials.
"It was nice to finally get to run a real race," said head coach Kim Ray. "It felt like we had been practicing forever. I know the girls were ready for a change."
Ray was anxiously anticipating this first race to see where her returners are compared to last year and how some of her younger runners would react to their first-ever high school race.
And her team didn't disappoint. Freshman Darci Briere made an impressive high school debut, capturing sixth place with a time of 20:39.
"I was kind of surprised by Darci," Ray said. "She went out and ran very fast in the first two miles and died in the third. She doesn't do that in practice. She kind of hangs back toward the back of pack in our workouts. She needs to be more aggressive in practice."
As a whole, Ray hopes her team will be a little more aggressive during the races.
"We work really hard to get in position to pass runners but after running with them for about five seconds we drop back," Ray said. "If we get there, we need to run with them longer until we pass them. It's about being a little tougher mentally."
Still, Ray had plenty to be pleased with in her team. All of their times were comparable to where they should be this early in the season.
Besides Briere, Havre got solid performances from a trio of sophomores, who also finished in the top 15. Mandi Nystrom and McKayla Patterson finished in 10th and 11th place while Kelsey Malsam was close behind in 13th.
Another surprise was the finish of junior Amy McLain, who is competing in cross country for the first time. McLain finished in 23rd place, running a solid 22:17.
"For having never run a race before, Amy's time was excellent," Ray said. "She is just so competitive. She doesn't like to lose and she runs that way. What she does with being competitive, we need everyone else to do."
Ray also admitted that her team tends to die after the first two miles in the three-mile race. It's something that isn't unfixable and common this time of the year.
"We need to be stronger in that third mile," Ray said. "We have to be conditioned physically and mentally for races. After having one race, the girls - especially the new girls - know what that will take. And the older girls just need to get back into that racing mode and run to their ability."
Havre will face some solid competition on Saturday as the Ponies travel to Bozeman for the Belgrade Invitational at the East Gallatin Recreation area.
1. Wasewi Shawl, Browning 19:55
2. Rikka Strong, Great Falls High 20:02
3. Marilee Woyth, CMR 20:08
4. Charlie Murphy, CMR 20:21
5. Ellie Weber, Great Falls High 20:32
6. Darci Briere, Havre 20:39
7. Candice Yoder, Great Falls High 20:42
8. Sara Aspinwall, Great Falls High 20:56
9. Nadine Mann, Cascade 21:01.18
10. Mandi Nystrom, Havre 21:01.41
11. McKayla Patterson, Havre 21:09
12. Jessica Frank, CMR 21:20
13. Kelsey Malsam, Havre 21:21
14. Caitlin Gray, Great Falls High 21:23
15. Jennifer Keville, Great Falls High 21:23
Other Havre finishers:
16. Shannon Newth 21:36
23. Amy McLain 22:17
30. Emily Kostelecky 22:46
36. Kim Jestrab 23:13
37. Chelsea Small 23:14
49. Bless Paquette 24:17
55. Kaitlin Perrodin 25:08
57. Nikki Dibblee 25:16
61. Rebecca Hilliard 25:27
74. Chloe Kinna 26:53
76. Megan Toldness 27:00.11
77. Heather Sienkowski 27:00.65
80. Laura Zentmire 27:27
81. MacKenzie Kinna 27:36