Havre High cross country teams compete in Class A state races Saturday in Missoula
All of the races ran this season lead up to this weekend, to this one race for the Havre High cross country teams.
The Central A Blue Ponies have performed very well this season and are coming off of a strong showing at the Central A divisional race a week ago. And now with just one race left, the Ponies will look to have one more solid outing at the Class A state race in Missoula on Saturday.
The HHS girls are coming off of a No. 1 finish at the divisional race, while the HHS boy are coming off of a fourth place finish.
"Everybody is excited to run," Havre High head coach Darci Heninger said. "It has been a great week of practice, and everybody is excited to get there and compete in Missoula. All the kids love that course, and it is great to have state in Missoula because that is where everybody got a personal record by one or two minutes last time. The mental part is the biggest thing. They have to be mentally ready, but not too much so that they stress themselves out. They need to mentally know what they are going to do, when they are going to make their moves, and just run well. If they can get into the right mindset and get into a good pace, then I think all of our kids should run well."
Missoula was friendly to the Ponies in the fourth race of the season, the Mountain West. All of the HHS runners turned in standout times, and the success found there has caused fondness for the course by Heninger and the Ponies.
The course is an easier one compared to some, mainly because it is mostly flat. There is one hill ending the first mile and beginning the second mile, but it didn't prove to be a problem earlier this season. If the Ponies can conquer that hill again, as well as find a way to get mentally prepared, they should have another standout day, even against the best of the best in the Class A.
At this point, the Ponies know how important one last personal record will be for the runners. They have put in the practice time and miles all season long, they should be in the best shape of the season, and they can hopefully take advantage of an easier course.
"They are going to have to drop their times quite a bit again if they hope to get a top place," Heninger said. "I know Haley (Ohm) is showing as the No. 18 girl in the Class A, but if all the kids can run as good as I have seen them run, then there is no doubt those places will be able to keep moving up."
Ohm has a shot at top place for the Ponies, and she will be joined by Morgan Mazurkiewicz, Peyton Filius, Rachel David, McKenna Barkus, Kiana Robertson and Emily Brurud. Tori Mazurkiewicz will travel as the alternate. Brurad is a freshman and is also making her varsity debut, as she has been impressing Heninger at the junior varsity level all season long, and should be a nice addition to an already talented team.
"She (Brurad) really has stepped up, and she has been running really well all year." Heninger said. "And towards the end of the year she just ran so awesome, so I think she will run ok again. I think that with the team we have for state, they should do very good placing wise. Every girl I have runs very strong, so I am confident with this lineup and I think that if they can run as well as they have all year, they can place in the top three to top five at state. That would be a good accomplishment, especially because we have gone through so many girls this season due to sickness and injury."
The HHS girls will have to battle a tough field, including the rest of the Central A and top teams like Corvallis.
The Pony boys will also battle a very tough field of teams. And coming out of the Central A, one of the more competitive and well rounded boys conferences in the state, the Ponies should be well prepared for this level of talent. Running for the HHS boys will be Brandon Robertson, Sundance Lodge, Brock Ross, Elijah David, Dylan Stewart, Ethan Smith and Cameron Knapton. Thomas Perrone will be the alternate.
Havre's Brandon Robertson, and the rest of the HHS boys will compete in the Class A state cross country meet Saturday in Missoula.
Havre has been on the verge of breaking though all season long, but it will take a total team effort. The top four runners in Robertson, Lodge, David and Ross have had a tight pack time all season long, but Stewart, Smith, and Knapton have to continue to close the gap on the tail end.
"The entire Class A for the boys is so competitive," Heninger said. "Any team can win it I think because every team is just so good this year. For our boys, they are familiar with the course, so I think that if they get the right mindset they could be ok. If they can just get their times a little bit closer, that would be big. But they also have to run smart, our boys have been getting out too fast on the start and they need to back off a bit. If they run that first mile pretty good, the team should do pretty good."
Havre will run at the Class A state race on Saturday in Missoula. The meet is held at the University of Montana Golf Course.