All the miles, practices and races lead up to this. The regular season is now over and one last race will determine who is a state champion..
Saturday in Helena the Havre High boys and girls cross country teams will compete in the Class A state meet.
“The postseason always seems to be a place where you gain energy,” Havre high head coach Kyle Fisher said. “The kids are excited and as a staff we are excited. This is why we put in all those miles and all the hard work all year long. We are just excited about the state meet.”
All year long Fisher has talked about having no regrets.
Both the boys and girls teams have ran well all season, and are hopoing to do so again this weekend. But to be successful, and to truly come home feeling successful, the Blue Ponies have to run hard and leave everything they have left on the course in Helena.
“They need to have complete focus all week,” Christenson said. “And all the way through Saturday when they compete. They need to lay everything on the line and compete and have no regrets.”
The HHS girls have run well all season long.
Their times have seen steady improvement and they have proven to be one of the top teams in the Central A. They are coming off of a No. 15 finish at state last season, and have already taken massive steps of improvement, including a No. 2 finish at divisionals last Saturday. But heading into the state meet, they are still looking to improve, and still looking to build on last year’s finish.
“At this point in the season it is hard to improve times,” Fisher said. “It’s going to take them going out and running as a team like they have been doing all year. One through seven, our girls have been doing an extremely nice job for us and I expect good things out of them this weekend.”
With Katie Christianson, Trisha Kinsella, Brittany Korb, Shelby O'Neil, Ashlynn Van Voast, Mikell Kinsella and Cortney Bricker making up the state lineup, and Larissa Price filling in as an alternate, the Ponies are packed with talent.
Bricker has been on the junior varsity squad all season, but showed she deserved a shot at state last weekend when she ran a 23:47 at the divisional race.
“Throughout the whole year she has competed,” Fisher said. “She has been getting better and better each week, and last weekend she moved up into our No. 7 spot. She has just been stepping up and doing a nice job. We are really excited to have her running for us.”
The Ponies will face some tough competition. Lewistown, Corvallis, Glendive and Polson are all state favorites, as is Whitefish who has captured four straight championships. But even with the talented field, the Ponies are looking to grab a spot in the top 5.
On the boys side of things, the Ponies too will face a lot of tough squads in their mission to build on last season's No. 9 finish.
Dillon Seely was replaced by Daniel Hanson, and Derek Van Dessel will move up into the alternate spot. And making up the rest of the varsity lineup is Kendall Murie, Marc Klimas, Greg Rhines, Chazley Hulett, Dolan Tuss and Desmond Filakosky.
Hanson has been in and out of the varsity lineup all season long, but showed he had what it takes to remain there when he posted a time of 19:30, a time good enough for the Ponies' No. 5 spot overall at the divisional meet.
“He has definitely earned his spot in the varsity lineup and worked hard all year,” Fisher said. “He is a kid we want running for us this weekend.”
The Central A’s Lewistown, Livingston, Browning and Belgrade will all give the Ponies a tough matchup on Saturday. But Columbia Falls, Hamilton and Corvallis will also push for a top spot.
For the Ponies to truly find success, they need to improve their pack time. It has been their weakness all season and needs to be shaved down. Murie and Klimas have been at the front of the pack, now Fisher just needs those three, four and five runners to step it up.
“We just need to keep climbing that ladder from last weekend (divisional meet),” Fisher said. “The boys know just as well as I do that they placed much lower than we should of, and a couple of those teams we lost to in the division we should beat this weekend. It’s a tough conference and a tough state, the boys just have to go out and compete this weekend.”
Saturday the Ponies will be in Helena where they will compete in the state meet at Bill Roberts Golf Course.