HELENA — It wasn’t ideal weather, but that wasn’t stopping Tiahna Vladic from taking advantage of a different factor that was ideal.
Vladic, the Billings Senior distance sensation, took the medalist honors in Thursday’s Capital City 7-of-7 race, setting a lifetime personal-best time of 17 minutes, 35.11 seconds, she told MTN Sports after the race. The 2016 Class AA state champion and defending runner-up ignored the soggy conditions and took advantage of the competition at the premier event.
“Running with the guys, I have so much fun with it. I obviously love running with the girls, but this is always totally new. I get to run with one of my (guy) teammates on the team. Toeing the line with all the good No. 1 runners is so much fun, and definitely the boys pushed me,” Vladic said of the meet, which runs seven races, beginning with each team’s No. 7 runner, followed by the No. 6s and so on until No. 1. “Sometimes being out there with the top three girls, you kind of get on autopilot and get lost out there, but when you have those boys in front of you, you keep pushing and go faster.”
Vladic wasted little time setting the pace in the No. 1 girls race, riding the tempo set by the state’s top boys.
“The first mile was really fast, obviously with boys you’re going to take it really fast, but I wanted to take it in a 5:30. We ended up going 5:10, which is a little crazy for me, but I didn’t want to panic too much,” she said. “I just kept it going and kind of let it take its course and go with it.”
No stranger to the distance world in Montana, Vladic credited her pre-race routine for shaking off Thursday’s rain and chilly forecast.
“Definitely a really good warmup. I mean, you can never go too hard on a warmup. I mean, you can, but with these cold of days you just really need to take that warmup,” she said. “It’s 45 minutes for me and I want to be sweating when I get on the line. Usually a good, long warmup is the best thing to do, I would say.”
Boys medalist Ben Perrin agreed.
“The conditions were tough to run in, but good practice for if it happens again,” said the Kalispell Flathead senior, who paced the No. 1 boys at 15:43.63. “It was good, though, obviously cold, but I wanted to get out there and get it done, try to do the hills hard, compete and try to do my best.”
Track and field’s defending 3,200-meter champion in Class AA, Perrin placed sixth at the state cross country meet a year ago, with all runners above him seniors. One year later, Perrin is the heir apparent to the cross country title. Just five days after winning the prestigious Mountain West Classic in Missoula, the largest race for most Montana athletes all year, Perrin says Thursday’s 7-of-7 is the final tune-up for the state meet.
“It’s nice because we had some smaller meets in the beginning of the season, so our coaches kind of train us to do our best in these big meets and hopefully that translates over to state in a few weeks,” said Perrin. “We’re just trying to be in the best shape we can be. Like I said, our coaches did a great job getting us to this point, and I obviously have a great team to push me every day in practice.”
Perennial cross country power Bozeman swept the team titles, winning all but two of the races on the boys side. Griffin May placed fourth in the No. 1s, while Brooks Peters was runner-up in the 2s. Xander Danenhauer, Renn Meuwissen, Seth Wyatt, Jonathan Wheeler and Andrew Holleman won the other individual races. The Hawks finished with 11 team points.
Missoula Sentinel and Missoula Hellgate tied for second in the boys team standings with 35 points each.
The Bozeman girls captured four runner-up finishes and three medalist honors en route to 11 points, edging Missoula Hellgate by a single point for the team title. The Hawks’ Terra Trom finished second behind Vladic in the No. 1s, while Alex Moore won the No. 2 race.
Helena High finished third in the team standings, paced by freshman Kylie Hartnett’s fourth-place finish in the top race.
The state cross country meet will be run at University of Montana golf course in Missoula on Saturday, Oct. 20.
For complete results of the 2018 Capital City 7-of-7, please click here.