Northwest A Divisionals
Silver Fox Country Club
Boys Team Results: 1. Whitefish............29 2. Columbia Falls.......51 3. Ronan................89 4. Polson...............92 5. Libby................113 6. Eureka...............190 7. Bigfork..............no score Boys Individual Results: (69 finishers) 2. Ian Mallams..........15:47 - All Conference 4. Blake Bjornson.......16:41 - All Conference 5. Jacob Fern...........16:46 - All Conference 6. Erik Anderson........16:48 - All Conference 12. Nick Donovan........17:12 14. Patrick McGunagle...17:22 17. Drew Coco...........17:41 21. Michael Samdahl.....17:53 22. Byron Bard..........17:55 23. Michael Harrison....17:57 32. Wes Beougher........18:20 33. Tanner Hosek........18:20 44. Nathan Topliff......19:00 46. Joe Guerri..........19:15 47. David Teeples.......19:18 48. Jon Cameron.........19:22 54. Luke Knight.........19:49 58. Dan Gibbs...........21:29 62. Jared Barton........22:14 63. Will Erikson........22:17 66. Chris MacNamara.....23:11 67. Gentry Darkenwald...23:31 Girls Team Scores: 1. Whitefish............32 2. Ronan................33 3. Polson...............80 4. Columbia Falls.......101 5. Libby................155 Eureka..............no score Bigfork.............no score Girls Individual Results: (72 finishers) 3. Beth Donovan.........19:35 - All Conference 5. Anne Danczyk.........19:56 - All Conference 6. Clare Miller.........20:03 - All Conference 8. Lauren Kuennen.......20:16 - All Conference 10. Kelly Beiser........20:44 - All Conference 12. Loni Hanson.........20:45 15. Cassie Schell.......20:57 17. Janna Rozar.........21:05 22. Marni Hale..........21:22 23. Natalie Kearns......21:25 24. Emily Jones.........21:51 36. Hannah Weaver.......23:07 37. Loie Russell-Templeton - 23:20 39. Megan Shaver........23:25 42. Katie Mcgunagle.....23:44 45. Mary Kohnstamm......24:07 46. Danielle Rogers.....24:12 48. Mallory Phillips....24:13 49. Maggie Wilson.......24:13 53. Dani Gregory........24:51 54. Alexa Holliday......24:54 56. Adraina Blanco......25:13 57. Bailey Chauner......25:20 59. Holly Cullen........26:15 62. Merilee Thomas......26:38 65. Emily Loesch........27:58
The Whitefish Cross Country teams returned from the Northwestern A Divisional Championship with high spirits and a couple of team championships Saturday. The event was held in sunny, warm conditions at the Silver Fox Country Club in Pablo, hosted by Ronan High School.
We like the course because it allows us to use our strengths. There are enough hills to keep everyone honest, yet it's still a fairly fast course. The boy's team set the tone for the day as soon as they stepped up to the starting line. Twenty-three runners clad in gold were out to prove that they could be the best of the division on this day.
Senior Ian Mallams led the group in a parade across the finish line with his second place finish in a time of 15:47. That time matched is best for the season and earned him All-Conference honors for the third time in his career. He was followed across the line by the trio of Bulldogs. Blake Bjornson (4th 16:41), Jacob Fern (5th 16:46) and Erik Anderson (6th 16:48) all had there best races of the season to also earn All-conference (top seven placers receive All-Conference honors, 8th through 10th are All Conference honorable mention). Nick Donovan rounded out the team scoring with a 12th place finish by running his best time of the season.
The boy's team did fantastic. It wasn't that they did the unbelievable. It was that they did what they have been doing all season. Our goal is always to run our best, especially in the big meets. We don't go in trying to do the shoot for the stars, we go in trying to do our best and not create an opportunity for mistakes. These guys all did that. If there was a downside, it was that we had to do it without two of our top runners. Joseph Alexander was held out of the meet with a twisted ankle that he injured early last week, and Drew Coco, who ran despite an abdominal injury that has been bothering him for several weeks.
I felt bad for Joseph and Drew. Joseph has been running with Jacob, Erik and Blake all season, and had he run, he most likely would have finished up there with them. Drew was fourth here last year as a freshman, so I'm sure he would have loved a chance to run healthy as well. Nick Donovan stepped up and did a fine job as our fifth runner, and Patrick McGunagle ran a great race as well to finish 14th, only five seconds behind Nick.
The girls stepped up to their race knowing that the boy's had won the team championship, and they wanted to do the same. Standing in their way was the Defending State Champion Ronan team. The Ronan Maidens had won this meet the past two seasons, and are stronger this year than the past two. When the gun sounded the Ronan team went right to the front to protect their home course and to show why they are they favorite to win the State A title next week.
At the mile mark it was all Ronan. They looked great and they were running aggressive. It was their home course and they know how to run it. The Lady Bulldogs began to chip away at their lead at about the half -way point, and continued to move up all the way to the finish line. As the race concluded, it was to close to call. Nine of the top ten were either from Whitefish or Ronan.
Ronan swept the top two places, then came Beth Donovan in third. Anne Danczyk and Clare Miller finished close behind in fifth and six positions. Lauren Kuennen won a spirited battle with a Ronan runner down the stretch to finish eighth, and Kelly Beiser (10th) sprinted by teammate Loni Hanson (12th) at the finish line to help the Lady Bulldog team to a narrow team victory over the hosting Maidens.
I had trouble watching this one. After the boys had won, you could see that the girls wanted to be part of that celebration. The girls program had never won the divisional championship in cross country. With perhaps the best team in Class A, running on their home course being in the way. I just had difficulty watching them run. When I did sneak a peak at the mile mark I was happy with our position. Although we were behind, our girls all looked good and they were in a position to move up.
When your team wins by one point, it's easy to point to places that made the difference. In this case there were so many. The solid running of our top three girls certainly put us in position to come out on top. Lauren being able to hold off Ronan's Briana Malmquist down the stretch was huge. Those two are a couple of the top sprinters in the conference during the spring track season. To see both of them sprinting down to the wire was quite a spectacle. If we don't win that duel, then we come in second by a point. Kelly Beiser, a newcomer to the sport this season finished in a rush to snatch tenth place in the final strides. Without that finish, we don't come out on top. Finally, freshman Loni Hanson, who finished just one second behind Kelly, had moved up throughout the race. By finishing ahead of Ronan's fifth runner it added another point to Ronan's score and it was that point that ultimately allowed us to win the championship.
Five young ladies from Whitefish finished with All Conference honors, and the Lady Bulldogs were Divisional champs for the first time in team history.
We know that our most important meet is the one still in front of us, but it was sure nice to have this to lead us into the state championship. This meet really gives us the indication that we can compete for a trophy at the state championships in Helena this coming weekend.
The boy's team was third at State in 2001. If they are going to make a run at being in the top three they are going to need to run as they have all season, and also have Joseph Alexander back in the line-up. The top teams look to be Browning and Dillon. After that it will be Laurel, Hamilton and Hardin, along with Whitefish fighting it out to see if they can make up ground on the top two teams.
I don't see any team as out of our reach. We're going to go in and run our best and let the computer add up the scores. Sure, we'd like to run well enough to come out closer to the top than the other teams.
The girls team has never finished higher than fifth at the State Championship. This may be the season that we are able to move into that top three. Last season we were close. This season we have the runners to make a dash for the top spot. It could very well come down to a couple of points between the top three teams if everyone runs like they did this last weekend.
Ronan is still the favorite based upon the fact that they are the defending state champions. They have everyone back from that team, and they are running better this season than when they won last year. Dillon has a strong team as well, and they have the personnel to come out with the win. You can never count out Lewistown and Miles City as they both have a history of competing well at the State Meet.
I'm just hoping that I have the feeling that I just can't watch the meet, because that could mean that the Lady Bulldogs are running the kind of race that they have all season. A race like that could mean a chance at the State Championship trophy.