GREAT FALLS — The Great Falls High boys cross country team won its first state title in 44 years this fall and just the third in the history of the program. The Bison placed third in 2021 and had a disappointing sixth place in 2022 before capturing the 2023 title in Kalispell. With the ups and downs in the recent years, the seniors felt this was a full-circle moment and are happy that they are leaving their mark on the program.
“We’ve gained a lot of respect over the four years," said Bison senior Ryan Harrington. "To solidify our mark and our experience as a team is really important to us and to just show how much work these guys have put in and how hard everybody in this program has worked over these last couple of years to bring us to where we are today."
The Bison entered the state meet as 20-point underdogs on paper and knew they had a lot of work to do if they wanted to hoist the trophy when it was all said and done.
“It was pretty surreal,” said assistant coach Carter Davenport. “We knew we had to be near perfect to pull it off that day and obviously we were near perfect. That moment when they called us, it was just like pure bliss. All the hard work had payed off.”
“Everything slowed down. I was just stuck in the moment,” said senior Ashtyn Rask. “I was just like, 'Holy cow, we just won state, this isn’t happening.' It happened and we got that trophy and it felt amazing.”
The excitement on the podium was just the beginning of the celebration. Prior to going to the state meet, the team made an agreement to shave their facial hair and only leave the mustaches. The plot thickened when the team raised the stakes and decided they would all get buzz cuts and bleach their hair if they won the state title.
The rest was history from there as the Bison cross country team and its coaches are now walking around with short bleached hair and waiting for their beards to grow back in.