By Kim Staudinger
For the KG KouGars nothing would mean more to them this year than coming home with a state championship trophy.
Just a few short months ago questions loomed as to whether or not KG would even have a cross country team, since last year's coach had left.
Paul Anderson started the KG cross country team five years ago and during his reign as coach, the KouGars won four state titles. Last year KG took second at state, falling to Plenty Coups.
"With what we've dealt with this year, we've done extremely well," senior runner Deven Donoven said. "Our coach leaving meant a lot to us. But we have to thank Kathy (Preeshl) for coaching us and doing a great job."
Acting coach Joyce Donoven, who is taking Preeshl's place while she is out of town this week, echoes her son's comments on Anderson.
"It has been a real trying year for the boys," she said. "They have had the same coach since the program began and he left. They have shown great dedication and have pretty much worked on things on their own."
Even though Anderson's departure had a big impact on the team, the KouGars were able to come to Havre to run two days a week with the Havre independent team, adding some competition for the boys in practices.
"It was good fun," Deven Donoven said. "We've known them and have ran against them for quite a long time. It gave us a competitive edge and helped us improve."
Still, the KouGars are hoping the adversity they have dealt with this season works to their advantage at the state meet this Saturday in Helena.
"We've worked extremely hard to get to where we're at," Deven Donoven said. "Our main goal is to take state. You know in the back of your mind you can't hold anything back. You pretty much just have to go out and run as hard as you can."
With three seniors on the team who all finished in the top 15 at state last year, the KouGars also hope leadership and experience will guide them to the title.
"Our main goal is to take state," Deven Donoven said. "Since we beat Poplar, we have a great chance again. Plenty Coups will be our main competition at state. Poplar beat them by 20 points the last time I looked, so that gave us a view of where we are at this season."
The Class C boys race is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the Bill Roberts Golf Course in Helena.