GREAT FALLS — Ryan Harrington made history for Great Falls High in October when he led the Bison to their first state cross country state title in 44 years.
Now the senior standout is running full speed to the next level, signing with the Montana State track and field team at a ceremony on Friday.
“When I was looking for schools, I felt a really deep connection to the group at Montana State and the team and the coaches,” Harrington said. “Some of those guys I ran against in high school. So when I went there I felt accepted and excited to stay at home and keep my roots in Montana."
Harrington had a number of options after high school, including places like Gonzaga and Louisville. But the appeal of running for an MSU program that has produced distance stars like Duncan Hamilton, Levi Taylor, Ben Perrin, Patrick Casey and others was hard to resist.
“Seeing Duncan Hamilton take second at NCAA nationals in the steeplechase and all of those other guys go to championships was a huge factor,” Harrington said. “It kind of showed me that I could stay at home and really be successful as a runner."
Though Harrington is moving on, he has one more season of high school track and field remaining. He’s confident he left the Bison program in a better place, and doesn’t think it will take 44 years for Great Falls High to win its next cross country title.
“These guys are driven and motivated now,” Harrington said. “I feel like my time was successful and we’ve shown these younger guys where they can go it they put the work in."