Havre Daily News Sports Editor
Although their thoughts may have been focused on this weekend's Mountain West Invitational, the Havre High cross country teams still looked pretty sharp at last weekend's Lewistown Invitational.
The Ponies put up a dominating performance, winning three of the four team titles in the meet and placing second in the other.
The Pony girls added another team title on the season, finishing with 49 points on the day. The host Eagles were second with 66 points, while Billings Central was third.
Havre had three runners place in the top 10, led by McKayla Patterson's third-place finish. Patterson came very close to breaking the 20-minute barrier with a time of 20:02.
Teammate Darci Briere was sixth with a time of 20:15, while steadily improving Kristine Keltgen was 10th with a time of 21:00.
"McKayla and Darci were solid as usual," said HHS head coach Tim Ranes. "Kristine had a personal record, which she was really excited about. She should be able to break 21 minutes this weekend."
Mandi Nystrom finished 14th with a time of 21:19, while Meredith Hanson was 16th with a time of 21:22 to complete the Ponies' scoring. Rounding out the Havre finishers were Christina Armstrong in 21st with a 21:52 and Danika Patterson in 32nd with a 22:58.
Our pack time is still a little high," Ranes said. "We wanted to get our other girls closer to McKayla and Darci. Kristine closed the gap some. Now, we just need our our fourth and fifth runners to move up."
While the Pony girls' performance was business as usual, the Pony boys had their best team showing this season, finishing second with 56 points. Hardin won the boys team title with 44 points.
"I'm actually surprised that Hardin got ahead of us," Ranes said. "We were looking pretty good. I thought we were going to finish ahead of them. This was definitely the best overall performance for the boys this season."
Havre placed three runners in the top 10 led by junior C.J. Leeds, who was seventh with a time of 17:17. Sophomore teammate Andy Keim was eighth with a time of 17:18, while junior Jade Nystrom was right behind him in ninth with a time of 17:26.
The finish was particularly exciting for Ranes, considering that all three runners are competing in cross country for the first year.
"They all ran great races," Ranes said. "They are just improving so much with each race."
Senior Marcus Campbell finished just out of the top 10 in 12th with a time of 17:32, while Jeff Hedstrom completed the Ponies' team scoring with a 20th-place finish and a time of 18:34. Richard Jarvis finished 25th with a 19:18 and Justin McLeod was 26th with a 19:20.
But Havre's success didn't end there. The Ponies swept the junior varsity meets as well. The girls JV had a team score of 26 with five runners placing in the top 10 to win the title.
Kelsey Malsam paced the Ponies, finishing third with a time of 22:51. Jessica Obrecht was fourth with a 22.59, Jaleesa Barthel finished fifth with a 23:15 and Samantha Boucher was sixth with a 23:53. Amanda Hedstrom was eighth with a 24:09.
In the boys JV race, Havre had four runners finish in the top 10 and scored 51 points to edge Laurel, which finished second with 56. Hardin was third with 61.
Robbie Brooks led the Ponies with a fifth-place finish with a time of 20:05. Clay Nottingham finished right behind Brooks in sixth with a time of 20:13. Nolan Holden finished eight with a 20:30, while Kyle MacKay was ninth with a 20:33. Jordan Magelssen rounded out the scoring with a 23rd-place finish and a time of 23:08.
"It was a pretty good day overall for us," Ranes said. "The kids ran very hard and that was a tough course."
Admittedly, Ranes was looking at the Lewistown meet as a way for preparing for this Saturday's Mountain West Invitational in Missoula. Simply put, besides the state meet, the Mountain West is the biggest race of the season, and without a doubt the toughest.
All of the best teams from Montana and some quality schools from Washington will be competing in Missoula. The sheer number of teams leaves the biggest field of runners that Havre will see all season. Ranes expects 250 to 300 runners competing in each race.
"We've talked about how different it is," Ranes said. "I'm told them how fun it can ne to run in big meets. There is always someone to run with and always someone to run down."
With the meet falling roughly at the halfway point of the season, it allows Ranes the perfect barometer to see where his teams are at. He also gets to measure them against the rest of Class A, since almost every Class A team will be there.
The Pony boys will get to see defending champion Browning along with solid teams in Dillon and Ronan. The HHS girls will see Ronan and Miles City - two teams they will be fighting for the Class A state title.
"I know the kids look at other teams' times in the paper," Ranes said. "But there is nothing like going out competing head-to-head with these runners."
The Ponies lineup will be different as Mandi and Jade Nystrom will miss this weekend. Brooks will move up the boys varsity, while Malsam will race for the Pony girls.
Besides competing against other teams in Class A, the Ponies will also get to see the course they will be racing on at the state meet. The Mountain West will be run at the University of Montana golf course, a relatively easy course for the competitors.
"That's big for some of the new kids," Ranes said. "Some of the girls that have ran it before really like it. It's a fast course and not nearly as tough as Lewistown or Havre."
The big thing for Ranes is seeing where his team is at compared with others in Class A.
"It's nice because we can see where we're at and what we need to work on," he said. "And it is still early enough in the season to make some changes and improvements."
Hardin 44, Havre 56, Laurel 72, Billings Central 80, Rapelje 96, Dodson-Whitewater 169.
1. Brian Valley, Har, 16:00; 2. Patrick Casey, Lau, 16:20; 3. Zach Nordahl, Rap, 16:49; 4. Tony Klee, BC, 16:54; 5. Jerrid Morrison, Har, 17:07; 6. Zack Condon, Lau, 17:12; 7. C.J. Leeds, Hav, 17:17; 8. Andy Keim, Hav, 17:18; 9. Jade Nystrom, Hav, 17:26; 10. Josh Lynch, BC, 17:27.
Other Havre runners:
12. Marcus Campbell, 17:32
20. Jeff Hedstrom, 18:34
25. Richard Jarvis, 19:18
26. Justin McLeod, 19:20
5. Robert Brooks, 20:05
6. Clay Nottingham, 20:13
8. Nolan Holden, 20:30
9. Kyle MacKay, 20:33
23. Jordan Magelssen, 23:08
Havre 49, Lewistown 66, Cascade 73, Hardin 103, Livingston 158.
1. Emmy Bentley, Lew, 19:25; 2. Melaina Asencio, Har, 19:52; 3. McKayla Patterson, Hav, 20:02; 4. Teri Lea McCormick, Har, 20:05; 5. Helen Pegram, BC, 20:07; 6. Darci Briere, Hav, 20:15; 7. Heather Haug, Liv, 20:24; 8. Alicia Cobb, Cas, 20:49; 9. Nichole Heger, BC, 20:55; 10. Kristine Keltgen, Hav, 21:00.
Other Havre runners:
14. Mandi Nystrom, 21:19
16. Meredith Hanson, 21:22
21. Christina Armstrong, 21:52
32. Danika Patterson, 22:58
3. Kelsey Malsam, 22:51
4. Jessica Obrecht, 22:59
5. Jaleesa Barthel, 23:15
6. Samantha Boucher, 23:53
8. Amanda Hedstrom, 24:09
10. Becka Stone, 24:14
11. Patricia Toldness, 24:32
13. Katy Wilson, 24:55
17. Kelsey Lodge, 25:20
19. Lindsey Siebrasse, 25:29
20. Megan Toldness, 25:43
25. Laura Zentmire, 26.40
30. Chloe Kinna, 27:31
32. Sabrina Rhines, 27:47
33. Mara Malsam, 27:52
34. MacKenzie Kinna, 28:09
36. Jenna McCann28:23