By George Ferguson
In cross country, it's all about running your best in the meets that matter most. The Havre High cross country team appears to be doing exactly that. The Ponies captured the Central A divisional championship in Bozeman on Saturday.
The Ponies finished first in the meet held at the East Gallatin Recreation Area with a total team score of 30. The Browning Indians came in second with a score of 61, followed by Lewistown at 68 in third place.
Havre placed six runners in the top 20, and five of those girls finished in the top 10. That outstanding performance gave them an overall pack time of 29 seconds.
The race was won by Browning's Wasewi Shawl, who finished with a time of 18:32. Elisha Cassen of Anaconda came in second at 19:51.
"The girls all ran really well together," said Havre head coach Kim Ray. "They all ran a really strong race and our pack time was outstanding."
Mandi Nystrom led the way for Havre as she crossed the finish line in third place with a time of 20:27. Katie Siebrasse came in right behind her at 20:31. McKayla Patterson was next in for Havre as she placed sixth with a time of 20:46. Alicia Rundquist followed Patterson in seventh place with a time of 20:48. Shannon Newth rounded out the scoring for the Ponies in 10th place with a time of 20:56. Kelsey Malsam finished in 13th place for the Ponies, while Rebecca Hilliard finished 21st.
With the strong finishes for all of the Havre runners, Ray was really pleased with the total team effort.
"Mandi Nystrom and Katie Siebrasse ran really great races," Ray said. "But all the girls have been running so well. Some of them have been knocking off as much as 30 seconds from their previous race. That is really good to see."
Ray also said the meet gave her team a lot of confidence heading into next week's Class A state meet.
"The girls have been running so well lately and if they can just take five seconds off their pack time that would be tremendous," Ray said. "I think they are going to be very strong at state."
In their final race of the year, the Havre High cross country junior varsity squad also had a tremendous showing as they won the JV race with a score of 18. The Ponies got a first-place finish from Jenna Baltrusch. Teammate Emily Kostelecky finished behind her in second place.
The Ponies will head to the Class A state championships in Helena next weekend.
Central A Divisional at Belgrade
Team Havre 30, Browning 61, Lewistown 68, Anaconda 129, Belgrade 148, Dillon 159, Livingston 192.
Top 20 - Wasewi Shawl, BRO, 18:32.95; Elisha Cassan, ANA, 19:51.59; Mandi Nystrom, HAV, 20:27.44; Katie Siebrasse, HAV, 20:31.58; Candice Rodriguez, LEW, 20:33.83; McKayla Patterson, HAV, 20:46.55; Alicia Rundquist, HAV, 20:48.68; Alexis DiGionne, BC, 20:51.94; Shayna Schildt, BRO, 20:55.46; Shannon Newth, HAV, 20:56.91; Kristen Mantooth, LEW, 21:11.50; Kelsey Malsam, HAV, 21:12.77; Sperry DesRosier, BRO, 21:19.42; Jamey Stegsdill, LEW, 21:24.17; Crystine Miller, LEW, 21:24.97; Whitney Salo, BEL, 21:31.91; Nikolle Dorsey, BRO, 21:36.52; Joena Eaglefeathers, BRO, 21:38.16; Katy Derheim, LEW, 21:41.95.
3. Mandi Nystrom, 20:27; 4. Katie Siebrasse, 20:31; 6. McKayla Patterson, 20:46; 7. Alicia Rundquist, 20:48; 10. Shannon Newth, 20:56; 13. Kelsey Malsam, 21:12; 21. Becca Hilliard, 21:44
1. Jenna Baltrusch, 22:09; 2. Emily Kostelecky, 23:03; 4. Nikki Diblee, 23:23; 5. Gwen Courtney, 23:32; 6. Kim Jestrab, 23:53; 7. Sheri Winchell, 24:11; 9. Megan Toldness, 24:21; 11. MacKenzie Kinna, 24:39; 17. Laura Zentmire, 25:15; 29. Kayla Fehr, 27:49; 34. Kirsten Burt, 32:06