By George Ferguson
The Havre High varsity cross country team got a taste of the big time this weekend at the Mountain West Classic in Missoula.
The Ponies finished 12th in the team standings out of 28 teams from around the state and several teams from Idaho and Washington.
The three-mile race was held at the University of Montana Golf Course on Saturday and featured 222 runners.
Flathead High won the team competition and Class A Bigfork came in second. Individually Flathead standout Zoe Nelson crossed the finish line in first place. Nelson finished the race over a full minute ahead of second-place Jamie Geissler of Mead High School.
Considering the fierce competition and the course, Havre head coach Kim Ray was pleased with her team's efforts at such a prestigious event.
"The girls ran some really good times," Ray said. "We don't have a lot of time until we get to the state meet so this was good preparation for them."
Out of the Class A schools, Havre finished third behind a dominating Bigfork squad and a surprising Polson.
"We already knew about Bigfork and they had a great team race," Ray said. "But Polson really surprised me. They had some really fast girls that I didn't know about so I was glad we got the opportunity to see them before state."
Individually for Havre, Alicia Rundquist was the Ponies' top finisher. She came in 60th place with a time of 20:37. Shannon Newth finished in 73rd place with a time of 21:05 while Mackayla Patterson was in 77th at 21:13. Kelsey Malsam, who was competing in her first varsity meet, also scored for the Ponies. She finished in 90th place with a time of 21:29. Rounding out the scoring for Havre was Rebecca Hilliard with a time of 21:38. Andee Peterson came in right behind Hilliard in 98th place and Emily Kostelecky came in at 148.
"Kelsey Malsam ran a great race for us," Ray said. "This was her first varsity race and she finished 30 seconds faster than she has in any other competition this year."
"Rebecca Hilliard also stepped up for us," Ray said. "She knocked 20 seconds off her best time and she has just been so consistent for us all year."
Overall the Ponies finished with a solid pack time of 1:01.
"I was pretty pleased with our team effort," Ray said. "Some of the girls will see some things they need to improve on before we get to divisionals and state."
The Havre High Junior Varsity team also competed on Saturday, finishing third at the Wolf Point Invitational Cross Country meet. The 3.3-mile race was held at Borgee Park in Wolf Point. Katie Siebrasse took fourth place with a time of 23:05 and Mandi Nystrom came in sixth with a time of 23:24.
The Ponies will host the Havre High Cross Country Invitational on Saturday.
Mountain West Classic
Havre Individual Times:60. Alicia Rundqusit, 20:3; 73. Shannon Newth, 21:05; 77. Mackayla Patterson, 21:13; 90. Kelsey Malsam, 21:29; 97. Rebecca Hilliard, 21:38; 98. Andee Peterson, 21:39; 148. Emily Kostelecky, 22:53;
Wolf Point Invitational:
Girls Team Scores:1. Glasgow 47, 2. Frazer 90, 3. Havre JV 93, 4. Wolf Point 120, 5. Malta 132
Havre Runners: Katie Siebrasse, 23:05; Mandi Nystrom, 23:24; Nikki Diblee, 26:26; Megan Toldness, 26:42; Gwen Courtney, 26:47; Mackenzie Kinna, 26:50; Sherry Winchell, 27:09; Kim Jestrab, 27:20; Laura Zentmire, 29:56; Kayla Fehr, 20:38.