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Browning boys heat up; Hardin girls too good for A

by FRITZ NEIGHBOR
Daily Inter Lake | October 22, 2023 12:00 AM

It was unseasonably warm at Rebecca Farm for the Montana State Cross Country Championships Saturday, as if the Browning boys needed help heating up.

The Blackfoot Reservation school picked up another cross country title — the program’s 23rd overall, which extends the Indians’ record, though this one took awhile.

“Two-thousand-seven,” said Preston Iron Heart, whose eighth-place finish led his team. “We worked really hard this offseason, running every day. Last year we got sixth; this year we planned to get first. It’s my last year, too. Last year to do it.”

Iron Heart set a personal record in his final race — 16 minutes, 33.5 seconds — and he and fellow senior Jerdan Crawford finished ninth and 10th. That, along with sophomore River Racine finishing just outside the All-State cut-off in 16th, sent Browning on its way.

The Indians scored 96 points to 146 for Laurel and 150 for Columbia Falls.

“The boys have been dialed in all week,” Browning coach Roy McNabb said. “Nothing’s been slowing us down, no sickness or anything. We executed our game plan today.

“That’s built on the leadership of these guys,” he added, nodding at his two seniors. “Our underclassmen are thriving because of the leadership our junior and senior runners bring.”

Whitefish was sixth in the boys team standings at 178, and senior Mason Genovese got his third All-State medal by finishing 13th, one spot ahead of Polson freshman Jackson Bontadelli.

Bigfork’s Jack Jensen, who led the Vikings to their State B title in 2021, finished 11th.

Columbia Falls got its first boys trophy since taking third on this same course in 2020.

“I’m thrilled for my boys coming home with hardware,” said coach Jim Peacock, who guided the Wildcats to back-to-back State A titles in 2018-19. “There were a few of them that got to watch the older kids run when we had that nice four-year run. I’m thrilled that we squeaked in. What a good field of teams this year, and I’m glad they found hardware.

“Laurel ran out of their minds. Browning boys were just solid and confident and it’s pretty hard to overcome three guys in the top 16. They’re definitely a team to watch.”

Hardin’s girls were as good as advertised, with freshman Karis Brightwings-Pease winning her second straight individual title (by 22 seconds, in 18:38.51) and leading a 1-4-5-11-15 Bulldog finish.

Hardin scored 37 points to 94 for Corvallis and 159 for Hamilton. The Broncs edged Columbia Falls by three points for the trophy, and the Wildcats had a scare when sophomore Ashley Andrews collapsed a couple hundred yards from the end of the 5,000-meter race.

Andrews, one of the top Wildkats, ended up going to the hospital.

“She and another kid on our team were in a car wreck several weeks back,” Peacock said. “She was back and cleared to run, but we think she overextended herself pretty good today.

Just heard from her parents and she’s doing a lot better.”

The finish line fills with overworked runners every race at state, and the best are not immune.

“You see that stuff every year and it's rough when it's one of your kids,” said Peacock, whose girls were top three the last three Octobers, including a State A title in 2021. “For the girls, for me, that’s just a heartbreaker, but I’m sure proud of them.

“The girls have had a really nice run and they missed by three points today. The boys missed second by four. One or two places. There wasn’t a lot separating a lot of teams from the podium.”

Freshman Cora Hannan was Columbia Falls’ top finisher, in 21st, and Ally Sempf (24th) and Marissa Schaeffer (26th) weren’t far behind.

Polson freshman Morgan Delaney was 10th Saturday. Whitefish senior Maeve Inglefinger finished 20th.

State A

BOYS

Team scores — 1, Browning 96; 2, Laurel 146; 3, Columbia Falls; 4, Hardin 157; 5, Livingston; 6, Whitefish 178; 7, Corvallis 196; 8, Havre 234; 9, Hamilton 46; 10, Polson 277; 12, Ronan 293; 13, Libby 317; 14, Miles City 360; 15, Glendive 362; 16, Lockwood 374; 17, Billings Central 515; 20, Sidney 537; 21, Stevensville 557; 22, Lewistown 585; 23, East Helena 620; 24, Butte Central 657.

Individual Top 15

Finn Schretenthaler, Livingston 15:27.78

Ben Bird, Hardin 15:37.07

Grey PIseno, Billings Central 15:50.84

Taylor Doleac, Hamilton 16:07.26

Jack Davidson Corvallis

Caleb Burton, Laurel 16:26.04

Caleb Tomac, Havre 16:31.94

Preston Iron Heart, Browning 16:33.42

Jerdan Crawford, Browning 16:34.92

Mekhi Ladson, Lockwood 16:35.66

Jack Jensen, Bigfork 16:36.96

Bryson Poulsen, Hamilton 16:37.42

Mason Genovese, Whitefish 16:38.00

Jackson Bontadelli, Polson 16:42.59

Warren Lee, Livingston 16:42.90

GIRLS

Team scores — 1, Hardin 37; 2, Corvallis 94; 3, Hamilton 159; 4, Columbia Falls 162; 5, Miles City 169; 6, Havre 180; 7, Whitefish 205; 8, Lewistown 214; 9, Polson 256; 10, Dillon 273; 11, Browning 277; 12, Sidney 333; 13, Frenchtown 359; 14, Livingston 384; 15, Laurel 397; 16, Glendive 432; 17, Lockwood 459; 18, Billings Central 499; 19, Ronan 529; 20, Biggfork 538; 21, Libby 565.

Individual Top 15

Karis Brightwings-Pease, Hardin 18:38.51

Laurie Davidson, Corvallis 19:00.95

Aleigha Child, Hamilton 19:08.77

Mariah Aragon, Hardin 19:15.13

Zoey Real Bird, Hardin 19:24.17

Hailey Powell, Dillon 19:28.54

Violet Jessop, Corvallis 19:47.05

Greta Tooke, Miles City 19:48.66

Ashlyn Ford, Havre 19:48.79

Morgan Delaney, Polson 19:51.66

Ella VArner, Corvallis 19:52.30

Dierra Takes Enemy, Hardin 19:52.78

Faye Holland, Dillon 19:56.40

Ryleigh Kleinke, Sidney 20:11.22

Victoria Takes Enemy, Hardin 20:20.65

State B

Champion Manhattan, Glasgow and Huntley Project took home the Class B girls hardware, while Plains finished sixth and Thompson Falls took ninth.

Freshman Marina Tulloch placed fourth for the Trotters; Thompson Falls had an All-State runner in senior Fath Palmer, who took 14th.

Manhattan’s title was its first since winning four of five State championships from 2014-18.

Boulder won the boys title with 79 points, to 137 for Columbus and 148 for Manhattan. The Panthers won 10 championships previously, but none since 1992.

Defending champion Mission, with Harlon Leishman taking 14th, finished ninth in the boys team race. Eureka was 12th out of 26 full teams competing.

State C

Both team races came down to tie-breakers: The Manhattan Christian and Drummond boys each scored 33 points (and Two Eagle River had 34, with Broadus at 35).

Just three runners count toward team totals in Class C, and the Eagles’ eighth straight boys crown (and 10th overall) came via their fourth runner, who finished 57th: Wyatt Miller.

They also had the individual champion in senior Oren Arthun. He won in 15:55.29.

The Roberts Rockets and Scobey Spartans each had 27 points from their top three girls, and Roberts’ fourth runner, Lilly Hyvonen, was 16th while Scobey’s was 22nd.

Whitewater’s Shelby LaBrie was individual champion, finishing in 19:52.42.

Complete results can be found at mhsa.org and athletic.net.

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Whitefish's Deneb Linton runs the course in the Class A boys race at the state cross country meet at Rebecca Farm on Saturday, Oct. 21. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Libby's Cody Watson nears the finish line in the Class A boys race at the state cross country meet at Rebecca Farm on Saturday, Oct. 21. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Polson's Morgan Delaney runs the course during the Class A girls race at the state cross country meet at Rebecca Farm on Saturday, Oct. 21. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Whitefish's Mason Genovese nears the finish line in the Class A boys race at the state cross country meet at Rebecca Farm on Saturday, Oct. 21. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Polson's Jackson Bontadelli nears the finish line in the Class A boys race at the state cross country meet at Rebecca Farm on Saturday, Oct. 21. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Columbia Falls Logan Peterson nears the finish line in the Class A boys race at the state cross country meet at Rebecca Farm on Saturday, Oct. 21. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Bigfork's Jack Jensen nears the finish line in the Class A boys race at the state cross country meet at Rebecca Farm on Saturday, Oct. 21. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Whitefish's Simon Douglas nears the finish line in the Class A boys race at the state cross country meet at Rebecca Farm on Saturday, Oct. 21. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Columbia Falls River Blazejewski nears the finish line in the Class A boys race at the state cross country meet at Rebecca Farm on Saturday, Oct. 21. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Whitefish's Maeve Ingelfinger runs the course during the Class A girls race at the state cross country meet at Rebecca Farm on Saturday, Oct. 21. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Columbia Falls River Blazejewski nears the finish line in the Class A boys race at the state cross country meet at Rebecca Farm on Saturday, Oct. 21. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)