Held in Whitefih because of Weather
Girls Individual Results: 1. Beth Donovan.........19:32 2. Anne Danczyk.........19:45 3. Janna Rozar..........19:48 4. Clare Miller.........19:55 5. Lauren Kuennen.......20:29 6. Kelly Beiser.........21:24 7. Natalie Kearns.......21:24 8. Cassie Schell........21:42 9. Emily Jones..........22:35 10. Megan Shaver........23:21 11. Danielle Rogers.....23:56 12. Hannah Weaver.......24:09 13. Katie McGunagle.....24:12 14. Mary Kohnstamm......24:36 15. Holly Cullen........26:02 16. Dani Gregory........27:13 17. Kim Aldinger........27:29 18. Emily Leousch.......27:34 Boys Individual Results: 1. Ian Mallams..........15:47 2. Drew Coco............16:20 3. Jacob Fern...........16:46 4. Erik Anderson........16:56 5. Joseph Alexander.....17:06 6. Patrick McGunagle....17:33 7. Michael Harrison.....17:36 8. Blake Bjornson.......17:43 9. Nick Donovan.........18:06 10. Tanner Hosek........18:19 11. Dylan Rice..........18:38 12. Wes Beougher........18:49 13. Joey Guerri.........18:54 14. Shane Hanson........19:36 15. David Teeples.......20:25 16. David Reimer........20:33 17. Kellen Bodily.......21:22 18. Jared Barton........22:20 19. Ryan Rice...........22:22 20. Gentry Darkenwald...22:25 2 miles Girls Middle School 1. Nicole Brist.........18:28
Cross Country is a unique sport in that it can be run just about any where in any weather. Actually, the worse the weather is, usually means the better the course for true cross country enthusiasts. Mud and wetness is just part of the event. So, what does a team do when it finds out that a meet has been cancelled due to weather? That answer is simple. They put on their uniforms and head out into the weather for their own race.
That's how the Whitefish High School boys and girls cross country teams handled the news that the Cut Bank Booster Invitational had been cancelled. I think that the groundskeepers at the Cut Bank Golf Course started thinking about what one inch long spikes would do to their course. I know that we would have put the long spikes in, and that would have meant a few more divots than usual. We really would have liked to run in Cut Bank. When the weather gets bad, we get excited. It just means that it's time to have fun in the mud. Where else can you play in the mud and rain and not get in trouble.
Once word was received of the meet cancellation, plans were already under way for an impromptu meet on the Bulldogs home course located around the Whitefish High School campus. We like our home course. We dubbed our meet the Lonely Hearts Club meet. This was because we were the only team in attendance. That wasn't enough to spoil the enthusiasm of the Bulldog teams as they lined up for the event.
I looked at the weather and just felt that we would be missing a big opportunity if we didn't get a race in. A lot of our competitors had already competed a day earlier at the Ronan Invitational, and they took advantage of the cooler conditions to run some really good times. The times on our home course compare closely to that of the Ronan course, so we took advantage of running against the times of the runners at that meet.
After the event was held we knew one item that was glaringly clear, these teams are much better than anyone has given them credit for being. Beth Donovan continued her tradition of leading the team. She looked great as she zipped over the course at her usual fast speed. The real story was the group of four young ladies hanging just fifty meters behind her.
I did a double take just to be sure that what I was witnessing was real. Anne Danczyk, Janna Rozar, Clare Miller and Lauren Kuennen were all running in a pack just behind Beth, and they all looked great. After looking at their two mile split I realized that they all had the opportunity to run under twenty minutes for the 3 mile race distance. That's been a huge goal for our girls, and it looked like if they ran a strong last mile, this goal would be realized.
Beth finished in first place with a great time of 19:32. This was just a couple of seconds off of her best time ever. Anne Danczyk (19:45), Janna Rozar (19:48), and Clare Miller (19:55) all finished strongly to break twenty minutes for the first time in their running careers. Lauren Kuennen was fifth with a time of 20:29 to round out the top five.
It was exciting to see how determined these young ladies were in their effort to run fast. The were able to ignore the cold and windy conditions to show that Lady Bulldog runners don't mind running in extreme conditions. I'm pretty sure that Lauren can run with or ahead of this group, as she has in the past three weeks. This gives us five runners that can compete with just about every team in the State.
If that wasn't enough encouragement, the rest Lady Bulldog team gave an indication that there's more to this team than the top five. Kelly Beiser (21:24), Natalie Kearns (21:24), Cassie Schell (21:42) and Emily Jones (22:35) all run fantastic races and were rewarded with personal bests for the distance. We had huge improvements from just about everyone on the team. It's a lot of fun when you have the opportunity to watch your runners better their best times, some by several minutes.
The boy's team wouldn't be outdone in the performance department. Ian Mallams really wanted to go under that school record time of 15:43. He went out hard passing the mile mark in 5:08 and just kept cruising from there. His finishing time of 15:47 was a personal best by three seconds, came just short of the school mark. Sometimes it tough running in the wind by yourself. I'm impressed with the effort he put out today. He's showing me that he has the mindset to go after the top spot in every race in competes in. That's what you want to see out of your team leader.
As with the girl's race, the real news was what happened behind our number one runner. Drew Coco (16:20), Jacob Fern (16:46), Erik Anderson (16:56) and Joseph Alexander (17:06) finished in the second through fifth positions to show the strength of this year's squad. Drew ran his typical strong race, but the spotlight today was really shining on Jacob Fern and Erik Anderson. These two ran breakthrough races to get into the 16's for the first time in their carriers. When you run in the 16's you've really joined a unique club. These two looked great today. Joseph Alexander was close as well finished fifth with a time of 17:06. I really think that by our divisional championship meet, we could have ten runners under 17 minutes.
The problem with having such a good group of runners is that it's tough to give credit to all the individuals that ran well. Our kids know that our course is an accurate 3 miles. Their running today should give them a huge amount of confidence that their training is right on track for the goals that they've set. They also know that it will take more than cold and windy weather to slow them down.
Next Saturday we head to Missoula to run in the Mountain West Classic. This event is the largest in Montana with over 2000 runners in attendance. It should be the first opportunity for all of our sixty runners to compete. It's really rewarding to know that you can put on a meet with short notice and have 38 runners participate at an outstanding level. It may be even more rewarding to know that we have 22 other runners waiting for their opportunity to join their teammates in having fun in the sun, or rain, whatever comes in their way.