By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editoremail@example.com
It was a very nice welcome-home present for Havre High cross country coach Kim Ray.
After missing a week of practice and last week's Cut Bank Invitational, the Ponies greeted Ray's return with a solid performance, winning the Lewistown Invitational in decisive fashion Friday at Pine Meadows Golf Course.
Havre placed three runners in the top 10 with McKayla Patterson capturing her first ever individual title with a time of 19:37. Mandi Nystrom finished third with a 19:48 while the ever-improving Amy McLain finished seventh with a 20:10.
"The girls ran awesome," Ray said. "I called them from New York after Cut Bank and said maybe they don't need me."
While Ray was only joking, she did point out that with each race her team becomes more self-dependent and less dependent on her.
"They're really been getting themselves mentally ready to race," Ray said. "And during the race, they are doing it more themselves."
Thus far this season, Ray's biggest concern has been getting her team in a competitive mind set and running with confidence. Her squad turned in its best performance, showing both throughout the race.
Before the race, Ray challenged one of her runners to step forward and win the race, and Patterson volunteered.
"McKayla, if she sets her mind to it, she can run with anyone," Ray said. "I've wanted her to go out and be more assertive. She did and she ran a fantastic time."
Indeed, both Patterson and Nystrom broke the 20 minute barrier which Ray has been hoping for. "We need to have at least two girls run in the 19's," Ray said. "That's what it will take for us to be there at state."
But the Ponies may have more than just two runners in the 19's. Amy McLain knocked another minute off last week's time with a 20:10. According to Ray, McLain's race attitude could push her below 20 in her next race.
"She just loves to compete," Ray said. "She won't let people beat her. In the last 800 meters, she was running with three other girls and she just wouldn't let them pass her."
Ray was also pleased with the performance of Shannon Newth, who finished in 11th place with a 20:51.
"That was Shannon's fastest time this season," Ray said. "She's really improving."
Kelsey Malsam finished in 13th place with a 21:12 which wasn't a typical performance, but Ray said Malsam was a little under the weather.
Rounding out Havre's varsity performers were Kristine Keltgen in 14th with a 21:13 and Emily Kostelecky in 20th with a 21:50.
"Kristine's performance was great," Ray said. "As a freshman, she kind of questioned whether she was good enough to run with faster runners. Now, she knows that she can run with them. And Emily ran her fastest time ever which is very good to see."
In the junior varsity meet, Havre runners finished second behind the host Eagles.
Bless Paquette finished second with a 22:38 while Kim Jestrab, Chelsea Small and Nikki Dibblee also had top 10 finishes.
Havre will now face its toughest race of the season when it heads to the Mountain West Invitational in Missoula. The race will feature over 200 runners and be held on the same course that will hold the Class A state meet.
"This weekend is very big for us," Ray said. "I think that our performance in Lewistown will give us a boost of confidence. The girls were really excited and they are excited for this weekend."
1. Havre 35; 2. Lewistown 54; 3. Belgrade 96; 4. Livingston 119.
1. McKayla Patterson, HAV, 19:37; 2. Nadine Mann, Cascade, 19:44; 3. Mandi Nystrom, HAV, 19:48; 4. Alisa Ogden, Laurel, 19:56; 5. Tessa Boehnke, BEL, 20:00; 6. Sydney Best, Centerville, 20.09; 7. Amy McLain, HAV, 20:10; 8. Sonya Rogers, LEW, 20:12; 9. Candice Rodriguez, LEW, 20:13; 10. Katie Kohler, LEW, 20:43; 11. Shannon Newth, HAV, 20:51; 12. Kristen Mantooth, LEW, 20:56; 13. Kelsey Malsam, HAV, 21:12; 14. Kristine Keltgen, HAV, 21:13; 15. Tara Sebek, LEW, 21:17; 16. Crystine Miller, LEW, 21:17; 17. Samantha Halko, CEN, 21:34; 18. Meghan Kiegley, BEL, 21:35; 19. Amanda Luikens, BEL, 21:36; 20. Emily Kostelecky, HAV, 21:50; 21. Hannah Clark, LIV, 21:58; 22. Kisa Kron, LIV, 21:58.8; 23. Erica Tohtz, LIV, 22.00; 24. Amanda Sebek, LEW, 22:57; 25. Amanda Campbell, BEL, 23:18.
Junior Varsity Meet
1. Lewistown 28; 2. Havre 30
Havre runners - 2. Bless Paquette 22.38; 3. Kim Jestrab 22:44; 5. Chelsea Small 23:27; 7. Nikki Dibblee 23:38; 13. Megan Toldness 24:38; 14. Rebecca Hilliard 25:06; 15. MacKenzie Kinna 25:17.