MISSOULA — On Saturday, the University of Montana golf course will play host to the annual all-class state cross country meet, and the Garden City will have some representation looking to defend titles on their home course in the Missoula Sentinel boys team, and Missoula Hellgate’s Kensey May.
The Sentinel boys made history a year ago, when they won the boys team title and snapped Bozeman's 12-year winning streak. It was their first cross country title since 1984.
This year, the Spartans have had a target on their back as the top dog looking to repeat.
"Biggest thing is just to embrace the pressure I think because we’ve never really been in this position before," Sentinel senior Chase Green said. "It’s a new place for us so we obviously have to think of ourselves as the top dogs and we have the target on our back and we want to embrace that."
Green placed 12th last year as Sentinel's third placer at the state meet. The Spartans were led by Tanner Klumph who took second and enters this year's state meet as one of the favorites to win the individual title. Junior Keagen Crosby comes in as Sentinel's No. 3 runner while senior Colin Shaules also returns after being on of Sentinel's top five from state last year.
Sentinel was the top-placing boys team from Montana at the prestigious Mountain West Classic back in September, and are once again at full strength headed into the final meet of the season.
"Training-wise nothing really was different (entering the season), just hitting the trails and mentally it was definitely a little bit different," Klumph said. "We’ve had that success and I think we had a really successful track season so now we’re just trying to figure out just setting new goals, tying to mimic the underdog feeling, just doing everything the same and doing what worked for us last year."
May won last year's individual title for Hellgate as she out-raced 2019 champion Kylie Hartnett of Helena.
May grew up in Bozeman and moved to Virginia at age 12 before moving to Missoula ahead of her junior year.
She's since found plenty of success in her two years in the Knights program, and once again looks poised for another big day for the Knights in her final high school cross country meet.
"I’m definitely a little bit sad because I’ve been thinking about it and I’m like this is going to be my last state meet as a high schooler and with Hellgate and so it’s a little bit sad just because I love my team," May said. "They definitely have helped me grow my passion for running here so I’m going to miss it a lot but I’m super glad that I had the opportunity to race with Hellgate."