By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editorfirstname.lastname@example.org
The Havre High School cross country team will face its toughest test of the season when it travels to Missoula for Saturday's Mountain West Classic.
It is perennially the biggest meet for the Ponies in term of competitors and overall team performance.
The Mountain West will feature teams from Montana, Washington and Idaho, with more than 200 runners competing.
"It's a whole different type of race with that many people," said head coach Kim Ray. "You really have to run your own race and not get caught in packs, or it will take you off your pace."
Havre has yet to run in a race of this magnitude and Ray is interested in seeing how her younger runners react.
"I am sure some of them will be pretty nervous," Ray said. "But if we're going to be nervous, this is the meet I would like them to be nervous at."
Besides the race having big numbers, it also has large ramifications for Havre. The course they will be running on Saturday is the same course they will be running for the Class A state meet.
"It's good to get a look at the course," Ray said. "We also get to see Bigfork again. We also get to see Polson for the first time this season. They finished second last year. There should be several Class A schools there and we can see where we are at."
Ray also will use the meet to see where her girls are training-wise. The meet comes at almost the halfway point of the season and she is anxious to see how her team has progressed since the beginning.
Havre is coming off its best showing of the season last weekend. The Ponies cruised to the team title in Lewistown with three runners in the top 10, including individual winner McKayla Patterson.
As for this weekend, Ray remains hopeful despite the tough competition.
"I think we can finish in the top 10," Ray said. "There are a lot of schools, but if the girls run with confidence they can do it. We can't think that other people are better than us."