HELENA -- Helena High sophomore Kylie Hartnett is on top of the world. Hartnett won the Class AA individual cross country title in October and now she's headed to Portland to compete against some of the country's best high school cross country runners in the Nike Cross Nationals at Glendoveer Country Club on Dec. 7.
"It's just huge because I'm only a sophomore and I'm going to these big races already. It's kind of crazy," said Hartnett.
The event comes six weeks after Hartnett wrapped up her second high school season with that individual title. Hartnett's club coach, Jesse Zentz of the Helena Novas, knows that physically she'll be ready, but it's been a challenge to help push through the long grind of this postseason mentally.
"The last three weeks really have been keeping her interested," said Zentz. "I think the fitness is there. She put in so much work throughout the season, really it's just about keeping her mind right, keeping her focused on the goal of going to nationals and really having fun."
While she did dominate in Class AA, Hartnett knows she'll be going against the best in Portland. She noted that her nerves will be a factor -- but not a problem -- as she toes the line.
"I think I'll be mostly excited until I get to the line -- then I'll be really nervous," Hartnett said with a chuckle. "Halfway through the race those nerves should go away and I should be able to run my best race."
Hartnett said her highest goal for the 2019 season was to win at the state finals in October. As for the Nike Cross Nationals, Hartnett said she's still going to try and beat her personal best, but she'd rather just have fun with it, because she has the luxury of qualifying two more times.
"I've got a couple more years, I've got some time to improve and I reached my goal of winning state, which was my main goal for this year," said Hartnett. "I'll be happy if just run my best race and have fun."