GREAT FALLS -- For West Yellowstone's Averi Parker and Manhattan Christian's Ben Morrison, they've been chasing state cross country titles for their entire high school careers. And on Saturday in Great Falls, both finally achieved their goals, winning their individual races in Class C.
For Parker, a decorated distance athlete in track and field, a state cross country crown has been something she has been chasing for a while.
"I got second last year, which I was ranked first all year and then (Sariah Maughan) kind of just came out of nowhere. So I was just trying to make sure that didn't happen again," Parker smiled.
This year, no one was catching Parker's time of 20 minutes, 11.16 seconds, which was 12 seconds faster than runner-up Annie Kaul of Plentywood. And living in West Yellowstone, the snow-covered course was something Parker was used to.
"It snowed a lot in West (Yellowstone) over the week, so we've been training in it. And I just told all the girls that this is what we run in so we can just use that to our advantage," Parker said.
While Parker won the girls title in Class C, Manhattan Christian's Ben Morrison won the Class C boys crown, crossing the finish line first in 16:52.99, edging out Richey-Lambert's Samuel Smith . Morrison helped the Eagles to their fourth straight state cross country crown, but the feeling of winning the individual title was something he's always been chasing.
"I had so much fun. The last four years have been amazing and I worked really hard for this and prayed really hard for this. My teammates and my coaches believed in me. I love Sam Smith, he got second and it was a dogfight, but I had a ton of fun," Morrison said.
Parker and Morrison, both seniors, wrap up their cross country careers on a high note, while bringing a lot of momentum into the track and field season.