By Kim Staudinger
The Havre High School girls cross country team opened its season Friday at the Cut Bank Time Trials Meet with a host of other schools from around the area.
Head coach Kim Ray says she is very happy with how her team ran.
"My top three runners ran superbly," she said. "Hailey (Schnittgen) and Maureen (Porter) ran really well. We will be looking really good if they can run closer to (the) top runners."
Jenna Baltrusch took top honors for Havre, placing third overall with a time of 19:55. Heidi Lane, from C.M. Russell High School, came away with the easy victory with a time of 18:07. Mara Bronson, from Great Falls High School, came in second with a time of 19:42.
"Jenna ran real well," Ray said. "She said she was in front of her (Mara) until the last big hill, then Mara passed her.
"The way Jenna started the season, she will be a great leader for us. All the girls will start where she starts and follow her pace. They need her a lot for the first mile so they don't get started too fast," she said.
Havre had six runners who placed in the top 30, with the remaining seven runners all finishing in the top 50 out of 65.
"As a team, for everyone to be under 27 minutes is great," Ray said. "I am really, really pleased with how we did."
Ray also praised her runners for how well they did individually in their first meet, considering the windy conditions and the smoke-filled air.
"Alicia and Jenna picked up right where they left off last year," she said. "Katie (Siebrasse) is going to help our team a lot. She did really well this weekend. Maureen did a tremendous job, too. She worked hard this summer trying to get ready for this season. She took a lot of time off of her last year's time."
Ray credits team work for her team's successes this weekend and says that will be a key to keeping the girls motivated throughout the season.
"They really help each other out a lot and that helped those girls finish at 24 minutes," she said. "I am just really happy with how they did as a group."
The Blue Ponies will be on the road in Belgrade this weekend. Competition begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday.