By Kim Staudinger
The Havre High girls cross country team, coming off a strong week of practice, is ready for its second biggest meet of the year.
The girls travel to Missoula for the Mountain West Cross Country Classic where nearly 200 runners will compete in the girls varsity meet. The girls are scheduled to begin running at 9:15 a.m. on the University of Montana golf course.
Head coach Kim Ray says the meet is very prestigious, making it the most important meet for her girls, except for the state tournament.
Top schools from Washington, as well as many others from around the state are expected to be at the meet.
"College coaches use it as a scouting event because so many high school athletes are there." Ray said.
Jenna Baltrusch, Alicia Rundquist, Katie Siebrasse, Nikki Dibblee, Haily Schnittgen and Shannon Newth will be running in the race. Maureen Porter is also expected to run, but is questionable at this time because of a foot injury.
"Jenna will come out and give 110 percent. Jenna's goal is to be in the top 15," Ray said. "She will need to run at 19:30 if she hopes to be there. Alicia and Katie could also be in the top 50 easily if their minds are in it and they run their best."
Ray said the top finisher in 1999 ran a 17:19, a time faster than any of her girls have seen this year. The girls are more used to seeing times like 21:30, which earned a 95th place finish in 1999.
Baltrusch finished 47th in 1999, with a time of 20:30. Ray said four runners finished with that time and three runners finished just ahead with a time of 20:29.
The race was not held last year due to conflicts with the golf course.
"The whole race you are trying so hard to catch those runners," Ray said. "You have to lunge at the finish line to beat the runners running with you.
"It's a big meet and with so many people, you run really really close. All the girls will have to compete the whole race," she said.