Havre Daily News Sports Editor
In their first meet in which team scores were kept, the Havre High cross country teams had solid showings at the Belgrade Invitational in Bozeman on Saturday against some strong competition.
With a field featuring some of the top Class AA teams in Montana, the Pony girls and boys squads each finished in the top five in the team standings.
The defending Class A state champion girls team finished fourth with 117 points, just behind Butte which was third with 104. Defending Class AA champion Bozeman dominated the meet, scoring 40 points to easily take the title. Billings West was second with 74 points.
"We finished about where I thought we would," said HHS head coach Tim Ranes. "We were also the top Class A team, which is one of the goals we had."
The Pony girls were paced by the individual efforts of McKayla Patterson and Darci Briere. Patterson ran her best time of the short season, finishing sixth with a time of 19:59.20.
"McKayla ran well," Ranes said. "She broke 20 minutes, which is something we like to see this early."
Briere finished in 10th place with a time of 20:03.23, which surprised Ranes a little, considering she had been sick most of the week.
"For her to still finish 10th is pretty good," Ranes said. "She was pretty sick early in the week."
Perhaps the biggest surprise for Ranes and Ponies was the finish of Meredith Hanson. She was Havre's third highest placer coming in 27th place with a time of 21:13.05. It was the second straight week that Hansen surprised Ranes with her performance.
"She just keeps improving every week," Ranes said. "Meredith is just very consistent, especially in long runs. She has great endurance and a great attitude in practice. She works very hard, and it's starting pay off in races."
Rounding out the Havre runners were Christina Amrstrong in 35th with a 21:35.65, Mandi Nystrom in 39th with 21:39.62, Kristine Keltgen in 43rd with a 21:53.24 and Danika Patterson in 56th with a 22:43.91.
"We need to close the gap with our 3-4-5 runners," Ranes said. "Our pack time was about 1:50, which isn't great. We want it to be around a minute or so. That's something we'll work on this week."
In the boys race, Havre finished a respectable fifth with 164 points. Bozeman dominated the boys race with 32 points, ahead of second-place Helena, which finished with 59. The Ponies were the highest finishing Class A boys school in the race. Belgrade was seventh with 178 points.
"The boys had a very good race," Ranes said. "We were the top Class A team, and we had good pack time of right around a minute."
Marcus Campbell paced the Ponies, finishing 24th with a tme of 17:26.54. Campbell was the highest-placing Class A runner in a race that was dominated by Class AA runners.
"Marcus had one of his better times in his career," Ranes said. "He ran a good race and it was a very tough boys race. There were some outstanding runners competing."
Havre had a large group of runners finish just out of the top 25. Andrew Keim was 29th with a 17:48.94, Jade Nystrom was 32nd with a 17:53.48 and C.J. Leeds was 37th with a 18:05.16.
"We had two kids also under 18 minutes and C.J. is right there," Ranes said. "That's important. For us to be successful at state we're going to need four runners in the low 17s."
Considering that Nystrom, Keim and Leeds didn't participate last year, it is nice surprise for Ranes.
"They have been big additions to the team," Ranes said. "They're really doing well for their first year."
Rounding out the Havre runners were Jeff Hedstrom in 43rd with a 18:27.93, Justin McLeod in 56th with a 19:11.62 and Richard Jarvis in 57th with a 19:63.63.
"The boys are definitly ahead of last year," Ranes said. "There is a competitiveness that pushes the boys, espeically in practice. They really push each other, which takes a lot of pressure off me."
Havre will now prepare this week for the Fergus Invitational on Saturday in Lewistown.
The meet will feature Class A schools including the host Eagles, Miles City, Laurel and possibly Livingston. A number of Class B and Class C schools from around the Lewistown area also will be competing.
Ranes admits that it is a step down in competition from Belgrade, but it's still a competition.
"It won't be the toughest competition we'll see, but it will be a race," he said. "These kids can use all the races they can get."
Also dominating Ranes and his runner's thoughts is the impending Mountain West Invitational race in Missoula on Sept. 24. Besides the state meet, it is the biggest meet on the Ponies' schedule. Traditionally, it is a great barometer for Havre to see where it compares to other Class A schools, since the majority will be competing, including perennial Western A powers Bigfork, Ronan and Polson.
"We're going to probably prepare right this week through the Lewistown meet to get ready for Mountain West," Ranes said.
Boys Team Results
1. Bozeman 32. 2. Helena 59. 3. Billings West 78. Billings Skyview 88. Havre 164. 6. Manhattan 171. Belgrade 178. Butte 217. Manhattan Christian 240. Park County 305.
Top 25 individuals
1. Dan Jackson, Bozeman 16:12.41; 2. Joel Bischoff, Helena 16:13.23; 3. Devin Cowan, Bozeman 16:14.27; 4. Joe Stusak, Billings West 16:15.60; 5. Birch Haraden, Billings Skyview 16:21.56; 6. Zac Barrett, Manhattan 16:24; 7. Alex Brekke, Bozeman 16:29.44; 8, Brian Haseman, Helena 16:34.32; 9. Mike Barker, Helena 16:34; 10. Andy Burns, Bozeman 16:37.87; 11. Nathan Adams, Bozeman 16:40.96; 12. A. Jenkins, Bozeman 16:49.72; 13. Josh Dean, Billings Skyview 17:00.40; 14. Kenny Hornung, Billings Skyview 1:03.4; 15. Andy Metropoulos, Helena 17:04.51; 16. Josh Keller, Billings West 17:06.44; 17. Michael Frank, Billings West 17:08; 18, Peter Caracc, Bozeman 17:10.36; 19. Michael Bauer, Billings West 17:15.81; 20. David Thompson, Billings Skyview 17:18.63; 21. Mark Eckhoff, Manhattan Christian 17:21.67. 22. Richie Romerson, Billings West 17:25.4; 23. Marcus Campbell, Havre 17:26.54; 24. Travis Miller, Belgrade 17:29.96; 25. Derek Daniels, Helena 17:33.17.
Other Havre finishers
29. Andrew Keim, 17:48.94
32. Jade Nystrom, 17:53.48
37. C.J. Leeds, 18:05.16.
43. Jeff Hedstrom, 18:27.93
56. Justin McLeod, 19:11.62
57. Richard Jarvis,19:63.63.
Girls Team Results
1. Bozeman 40. 2. Billings West 74. 3. Butte 104. 4. Havre 117. 5. Manhattan 164. 6. Billings Skyview 167. 7. Lewistown 174. 8, Helena 200. 9. Belgrade 261. 10. Park County 267.
Top 25 individuals
1. Katie Dolan, Bozeman 19:20.34. 2. Emily Allison, Bozeman 19:22; 3. Emmylyn Bentley, Lewistown 19:26.27; 4. Carly Toepfer, Billings West 19:30.19:30.65; 5. Abby Stusek, Billings West 19:34.63; 6. McKayla Patterson, Havre 19:52.39; 7. Gillian Goodrich, Bozeman 19:58.31; 8, Tayte Cranston, Bozeman 19:59.2; 9. Kala Jauquet, Butte 20:00.12; 10. Darci Briere, Havre 20:03.23; 11. Elizabeth Manaiso, Billings Skyview 20:16.20; 12. Hilary Palakovich, Whitehall 20:22.20; 13. Heather Haug, Park County 20:27.89; 14. Julie Walsh, Billings West 20:30.40; 15. JoAnna Kreitinger, Manhattan 20:31.62; 16. Kaci Hockaday, Butte 20:31.84; 17. Chloe Palakovich, Whitehall 20:48.66; 18, Brianne Dewill, Helena 20:53.78; 19. Meghan Keigley, Belgrade 20:57.62; 20. Alexis DiGiovine, Butte Central 21:02.52; 21. Krystin Schmidt, Manhattan 21:03.21; 22. Elizabeth Sparta, Bozeman 21:03.91; 23. Emily Ringer, Bozeman 21:07.39; 24. Lizzy Thompson, Manhattan 21:07.94; 25. Alison Smyth, Billings West 21:08.33.
Other Havre finishers
27. Meredith Hanson, 21:13.05
35. Christina Armstrong, 21:35.65
39. Mandi Nystrom, 21:39.62
43. Kristine Keltgen, 21:53.24
56. Danika Patterson, 22:43.91