By Alan Sorensen
HELENA (AP) The KG KouGars fell just short of their goal of a fifth straight State Class C cross country championship Saturday. The KouGars, led by defending state champ Aaron Smith, who came in second, garnered 64 points to Plenty Coups's 44.
"I think they had one of their best races of the year Saturday," KG coach Paul Anderson said. "It would have been pretty impossible to catch Plenty Coups, I think, but I was plenty impressed with our kids, how they ran."
As a team, the KG runners were bunched in the top 22 with a spread of just two minutes and one second over the 3-mile course on the Bill Roberts Golf Course in Helena.
Smith, who is just a junior, will have a new nemesis next year as the first-place harrier, Craig Widhalm of Belt, is a senior.
Widhalm crossed the finish line in 15 minutes and 42 seconds, followed by Smith in 16:12. Michael Sveum of Sunburst rounded out the top three.
KouGar runners who contributed to the second-place finish were Justus Wendland in ninth with a time of 17:20, Deven Donoven in 14th in 17:30, Scott Dees grabbing 17th in 17:56 and Thomas Marshall in 22nd in 18:13.
The girls' winner was Robin Wemple of Victor. Wemple finished the 3-mile course in 18 minutes, 25 seconds to set a state record and beat the second-place finisher by 1:24.
The old Class C record of 18:59 was set by Joy Ricardi of Manhattan Christian in 1997.
Lois Ricardi of Manhattan Christian finished second in 19:49. Nicole Widhalm of Belt finished third.
Coach Anderson said KG's boys will have another shot next fall when five of their six 2000 runners return, including Smith.
"Scott Dees is the only senior," Anderson said. "We'll bring five back next year, so that's good."