By Tiffany L. Rehbein
The Havre High cross country team, the 1999 Central A divisional champions, heads to Helena to compete at the state meet Saturday at the Bill Roberts Golf Course.
The girls know the teams they have to be with and the individuals they need to stay with to compete, said first-year head coach Kim Ray.
Ray has helped bring the team from a fourth-place, 103-point finish at divisional last season, to a first-place, 39-point finish at divisional this year.
But, its the best of the best at state.
Miles City, the first-place team from the Eastern A managed 24 points at divisional, and Colstrip, No. 2 from the east who tallied 59 points, are two teams with whom Havre must contend.
Miles City is the toughest, Ray said. We know who their girls are, but we also cant forget about any other team.
Miles City, against whom the Blue Ponies have not competed this year, dominated the divisional meet at Billings last weekend, posting 1-2-4-6-11-place finishers.
Brianne Schmidt, a junior, won the race, followed by Alissa Bilden in second, Chelsea Lynnes in fourth, Lisa Neyes in sixth and Erica Griffith in 11th place.
Lynnes finished second overall at state last season with a time of 18:50.
At the Belgrade Invitational earlier this season, Colstrip placed third with 102 points. Lewistown, a thorn in the Blue Pony side all season, posted a fourth-place finish with 104 points, while Havre finished fifth with 194 points.
At Belgrade, junior Jennie Peterson, the No. 1 Blue Pony harrier won the race in 21:28.
Hot on her heels was Eryn Beckmen of Colstrip who posted a second-place time of 21:31.
Following the Belgrade meet, Havre stole the top three spots at the Glasgow Invite and brought home the No. 1 trophy.
Since Oct. 2, Fergus County (Lewistown) placed first at the Fergus Invite, and first at the Havre Invite, that came down to a sixth-place finish tiebreaker.
But Havre unleashed its power at divisional and overcame the Golden Eagles for the top spot last weekend.
During the course of six meets, Peterson has finished first four times, finished second once and 10th once.
Petersons career-best time is 18:35 on the three-mile course, which she notched at Lewistown.
No. 2 harrier, senior Jen Dibblee, has broken her own personal-best time three times this season and has finished in the top five four times this year. Her fastest time is 19:58.
Freshman Jenna Baltrusch is the No. 3 Blue Pony. Baltrusch has notched top 10 finishes four times this season. Her career-best time is a 20:01, which she set at Lewistown.
Erin Lynch also posted a career-best 21:27 at Lewistown and has consistently been Havres fourth runner this season.
Jillian Brough, who smoked at divisional last weekend, set a career-best time of 21:25 to lift the Ponies to a top trophy.
Brough surpassed Lynch in the race to propel the Ponies team score at Livingston.
Nikki Grant and Carly Toldness are the sixth and seventh runners traveling with the team.
The top five finishers tally points for the total team score. But each runner is critical.
We need to have our other runners step in and break up pack times, and we need other teams to step in and break up times, Ray said. As a team, we want to keep our runners as close together as possible. If our top three runners finish in the top 15, and the others in the top 20, well be sitting good.
The Ponies are physically ready, through rigid training since August. Now, it comes down to the mind.
It comes down to how strong mentally you are, Ray said. When you are neck and neck with an opponent, the one with the most heart wins because they believe just a little more in themselves.
The Ponies race begins at 2:10 p.m. The KG KouGars run at 11 a.m.