BILLINGS – This story is sponsored by the No. 2.
Two of Yellowstone County’s best runners winning two state championships, each for the second time in their cross country careers. Billings Senior’s Tiahna Vladic and Laurel’s Levi Taylor were favorites entering the state meet Saturday, and each showed why with nobody near them at the finish line.
“At first I was feeling pretty good and then started to burn a little bit,” Taylor told MontanaSports.com. “My legs started getting pretty tired after the hill. I just tried to stick it out the rest of the race.”
“The second mile, just had to kind of hold on and be mentally strong, because usually back there where the hill is and that incline, gets pretty hard,” said Vladic. “But stayed strong throughout the back portion and then just kicked it in.”
Victory was especially sweet for Vladic. After winning the title as a sophomore in 2016, she came in second last year and wanted badly to be back on top in her final race.
“I was super nervous,” Vladic admitted. “I mean, being a senior I’m always going to be nervous my last cross country state meet race. I was really nervous going into it, and there’s a lot of good girls, so I just knew I had to leave it all out there on the course.”
Taylor and Vladic also helped their teams get on the podium with third-place finishes.
“Feels awesome,” Taylor said. “More excited to see what we got as a team, though.”
Conditions were perfect in Missoula – warm and sunny – generally not a distance runner’s favorite, except for Vladic.
“I’d rather be in hot weather than cold weather, so it was definitely my ideal race,” she said. “I loved it.”
Both will finish their high school careers during track season in the spring. Taylor is coming off state titles in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs last season, while Vladic will try to win her first individual titles on Billings Senior’s legendary girls team.