By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editorfirstname.lastname@example.org
The weather was colder, and the times were slower, but the Havre High girls still got the job done.
The Ponies won yet another Central A Divisional cross country title with a dominant performance at the East Glacier Park Lodge Golf Course Saturday outside of Browning.
While the HHS girls have been a facet in Central A, the Pony boys had a strong third-place showing in their first ever divisional race as a sanctioned MHSA squad.
As is often the case at the Rocky Mountain front, the weather can be somewhat unpredictable. Despite a relatively mild forecast, runners were greeted with whipping winds and intermittent rains throughout the day.
"Overall, our times were slower than last weekend," said head coach Kim Ray. "But the weather had a lot to do with it. It rained pretty heavily and with the wind, the kids just got physically cold. Your muscles get cold in those conditions and don't move as well as they normally do."
Still, the Pony girls' muscles were working better than their opponents'.
Despite running in heavy rains, Havre dominated the girls' race, scoring 34 points as a team and placing all seven of its runners in the top 20 and six runners in the top 10.
"Placing six runners in the top 10 is even better than I wanted," Ray said. "The girls were kind of disappointed with their times, but the weather had a lot to do with it. But it's kind of a good thing. As a coach, you want the girls to want to run better."
Havre had tremendous pack time of 49 seconds and did a nice job of running as a team.
The Ponies were led by Darci Briere, who finished fourth with a time of 20:31, despite missing last week's tune-up meet. Havre had a large pack of runners finish shortly behind Briere. McKayla Patterson was sixth with a time of 20:32, Mandy Nystrom was seventh, Amy McLain came in eight, Becca Hilliard was ninth and Kelsey Malsam was 10th. Havre's remaining runner, Christina Armstrong, was 17th with a time 22:17.
While the weather was a legitimate excuse, Ray knows it will take more to win the coveted Class A state title this weekend in Helena.
"We need all of our times to be about 30 seconds faster this weekend," Ray said.
For their first divisional race, the HHS boys looked very solid scoring 67 points, just six points behind second place Belgrade.
"They were pretty excited," Ray said. "I really think they could have gotten Belgrade, if they would have known how close they were to them."
The Ponies placed all seven runners in the top 20 with two runners in the top 10.
Tyler Crossley had his best individual showing of the season, finishing eighth with a time of 17:54. Teammate Marcus Campbell was 10th with a time of 18:02.
"Tyler did an excellent job," Ray said. "He ran really well even though he was having leg problems. He just went out and ran a strong race."
Havre had large contingent of runners in bottom half of the top 20 led by Kyle Baltrusch, who finished 15th with time of 19:03. Jeff Hedstrom was 16th, while Seth Hinckley, Justin McLeod and Mike Welch finished 18th, 19th and 20th, respectively.
"The boys ran a pack time of 1:15," Ray said. "We need that to be closer to a minute. They need to run a little closer together and our third, fourth and fifth runners need to run a little closer to Tyler and Marcus."
In the junior varsity races, the HHS girls dominated once again, scoring a ridiculous 15 points to win the JV team title. Lewistown was second with 40.
Havre took all top five places in the JV race led by Kristine Keltgen, who finished first with a time of 22:21. Emily Kostelecky was second, Danika Patterson was third, Meredith Hansen finished fourth and Kim Jestrab was fifth.
"The JV girls were awesome," Ray said. "To score 15 points, you just can't ask for any more than that.
"Kim and Emily did a nice job knowing it was their last race of their career," Ray added. "I was really happy to see them do well."
In the boys JV race, Havre got a ninth-place finish from Jacob Verploegen, while Michael Morelli and Clay Nottingham finished in 12th and 14th. No teams scores were kept in the boys race.
Havre will spend the week preparing for the Class A State Cross Country meet held Saturday in Helena.
Central A Divisional
1. Browning 15; 2. Belgrade 61; 3. Havre 67; 4. Livingston 97; 5. Butte Central NS.
Top 20 individuals
1. Edwin Cree Medicine, BRO, 17:03; 2. Marlin Black Weasel, BRO, 17:06; 3. Isaiah Webber, BRO, 17:08; 4. Kenny Bird Rattler, BRO, 17:08; 5. Terran Guardipee, BRO, 17:23; 6. Trevor Jallings, BEL, 17:29; 7. Matthew Bullchild, BRO, 17:31; 8. Tyler Crossley, HAV, 17:54; 9 Kollin King, LIV, 17:57; 10. Marcus Campbell, HAV, 18:02; 11. Chance Stiles, BEL, 18:07; 12. Terry Ketterek, LIV, 18:12; 13. Travis Miller, BEL, 18:28; 14. Lee Mills, BEL, 18:48; 15. Kyle Baltrusch, HAV, 19:03; 16. Jeff Hedstrom, HAV, 19:03; 17. Bridger Kluzyk, BEL, 19:14; 18. Seth Hinckley, HAV, 19:17; 19. Justin McLeod, HAV, 19:26; 20. Mike Welch, HAV, 19:30.
1. Havre 34; 2. Lewistown 74; 3. Livingston 98; 4. Browning 101; 5. Belgrade 107; 6. Butte Central NS.
Top 20 individuals
1. Sonya Rogers, LEW, 19:58; 2. Meghan Keigley, BEL, 20:03; 3. Heather Haug, LIV, 20:06; 4. Darci Briere, HAV, 20:31; 5. Alexis DiGiovine, BC, 20:32; 6. McKayla Patterson, HAV, 20:32; 7. Mandy Nystrom, HAV, 20:37; 8. Amy McLain, HAV, 21:10; 9. Becca Hilliard, HAV, 21:17; 10. Kelsey Malsam, HAV, 21:36; 11. Tessa Boehnke, BEL, 21:45; 12. Kathy Running Crane, BRO, 21:49; 13. Sperry DesRosier, BRO, 21:55; 14. Caitlyn Fox, LEW, 22:05; 15. Erica Tohtz, LIV, 22:07; 16. Jonna VanDaveer, BC, 22:09; 17. Christina Armstrong, HAV, 22:17; 18. Emily Damby, LEW, 22:25; 19. Jessica Payne, LIV, 22:38; 20. Katie Kohler, LEW, 22:45.
No team scores
Havre finishers: 9. Jacob Verploegen 20:26; 12. Michael Morelli 21:12; 14. Clay Nottingham 22:09
1. Havre 15, 2, Lewistown 40
Havre finishers: 1. Kristine Keltgen 22:21; 2. Emily Kostelecky 22:26; 3. Danika Patterson 22:27; 4. Meredith Hansen 22:27; 5. Kim Jestrab 23:00; 11. Jessica Obrecht 25:26; 12. Chloe Kinna 25:28; 13. Chelsea Small 25:38; 14. Patricia Toldness 25:39; 15. Becka Stone 25:47; 18. Megan Toldness 26:14; 23. Sarah Lippy 27:30; 25. Mara Malsam 28:09.