By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editorfirstname.lastname@example.org
It was a mixture of highs and lows for the Havre High boys cross country club at the Mountain West Invitational.
The high point came as three runners improved on their personal records with senior Kasey Barsotti finishing in 24th place at the very tough and competitive race.
The low point was the loss of standout runner Jeff Sprinkle midway through the race because of sickness. Losing Sprinkle cost the Ponies dearly in terms of team points.
"Losing one of our lead runners really blew a hole in our overall team score," said head coach Ron Watson.
However, Sprinkle's absence didn't seem to bother his running partner.
Barsotti navigated the course in 16:27, finishing ahead of 263 runners and besting his personal record by several seconds.
"Kasey had a very good plan right from the start," Watson said. "He put it all out on the line and aggressively attacked the race."
Said Barsotti: "This is basically our state meet. We don't have the luxury of running in the state meet like the other guys do, so this meet means a lot. It's the biggest one we go to, and I wasn't going to hold anything back."
Besides Barsotti, Will Long and Jeff Hedstrom each recored personal records while Marcus Campbell and Cody Mclean also ran solid races.
"This meet is a tremendous experience for our younger runners," Watson said. "The sheer number of competitors is impressive and challenging."
While the Mountain West may be their state meet, the Havre boys are far from finished. They will run in Saturday's Havre Invitational held at the MSU-Northern campus.
"The hardest part of their training is done now," said assistant coach Jerome Tharaud. "We'll start backing off this week to make sure they are sharp going into the end of the season."
Top 30 individuals
1, Jon Metropoulos, Helena, 15:26.53; 2, TJ StrangOwl, Colstrip, 15:31.35; 3, Dane Steward, Plains, 15:33.92; 4, Michael Skansgaard, Gonzaga Prep, 15:40.76; 5, Ryan Kearney, Butte Central, 15:44.91; 6, Chad Hunsucker, Polson, 15:49.30; 7, Steven Vandenburg, Northwest Christian, 15:50.43; 8, John Ricardi, Bozeman, 15:53.43 9, Curtis Kincaid, Shadle Park, 15:56.41; 10, Chris Baldus, Bozeman, 15:58.30; 11, Chris Bick, Frenchtown, 16:01.63; 12, Justin Hofstee, Lewis and Clark, 16:04.71; 13, Joe Wirtz, Helena, 16:06.10; 14, Nate Tschida, Loyola, 16.06.39; 15, Matt Parker, Kalispell, 16:07.71; 16, Isaac Harmson, Lewis and Clark, 16:09.18; 17, Zanen Pitts, Ronan, 16:10.81; 18, David Sheridan, Helena Capital, 16:11.05; 19, Nick Siebert, North Central, 16:14.40; 20, Luke Graesser, North Central, 16:16.49; 21, Brian Haseman, Helena, 16:21.57; 22, Daniel Bridge, Shelby, 16.22.49; 23, David Myer, Bigfork, 16:23.08; 24, Kasey Barsotti, Havre, 16:27.58; 25, Ryan Zentz, Lewis and Clark, 16:28.26; 26, Clint Choquette, Butte, 16:30.17; 27, Jason Ames, Helena, 16:31.02; 28, Keith Holt, East Valley, 16:32.06; 29, Tom Brekke, Bozeman, 16.32.82; 30, Andrew Scott, North Central, 16:35.85.
Other Havre finishers:
Jeff Sprinkle DNF
156. Marcus Campbell 18.17
197. Cody Mclean 19:02
207. Will Long 19:12
256. Jeff Hedstrom 20:39
279. Clay Nottingham 23:26