KALISPELL — Unlucky No. 13 strikes again.
After winning 12 consecutive Class AA boys cross country championships, the Bozeman boys fell victim to No. 13 on Saturday at Rebecca Farm, though senior runner Stirling Marshall-Pryde took a bit of the sting away.
Marshall-Pryde took the boys medalist honors on a chilly final day of the 2020 high school cross country season, winning in 16 minutes, 35.4 seconds.
“For me personally, I feel like (the individual title makes up for missing the team title). I’m bummed that we didn’t get the win again. We lost our 12-year streak, which is a bit of a bummer,” admitted Marshall-Pryde. “We all tried our best, what happened, happened. There’s nothing we can do about that now. I’m just really proud of everybody. We all tried as hard as we could and you can’t ask for anything more than that.”
Missoula Sentinel’s boys snapped the 12-year dominant run by the Hawks, winning the program’s first title since 1984, and only the third championship in program history. The Spartans scored 59 points, 10 better than Bozeman, which placed third behind Missoula Hellgate. The Knights bested the Hawks by two points, 67-69, for the runner-up finish.
Four Sentinel runners — Tanner Klumph (second), Wyatt Mortenson (seventh), Chase Green (12th) and Corbin Johnson (13th) — placed in the top 15, earning the ensuing all-state honors.
Hellgate had three collect the accolade — Ignatius Fitzgerald (third), Miles Colescott (fourth) and Finneas Colescott (ninth)— while Bozeman also had three. Zander Danenhauer (10th) and Connor Neil (11th) joined Marshall-Pryde in the all-state category.
Marshall-Pryde boasted Class AA’s fastest time by nearly 20 seconds this season, 15:39.8, but Klumph showed early on he wasn’t going to let the individual title go easily. The Sentinel junior led after the first lap, but Marshall-Pryde created separation into miles No. 2 and 3, earning the 11-second win.
“I was going to let someone else take the first mile, but that didn’t work. So, I started doing what I did all year, took it out hard and tried to run by myself, but then that didn’t work because a few guys stayed with me,” said Marshall-Pryde. “Tanner (Klumph) went around me, he got a few yards on me, so that was a little bit scary, but I just pushed myself to catch back up to him. Around mile No. 2 I put a surge in and got by him, just kept pushing from there.”
“I’ve been hoping for this moment for a really long time now, since I started running pretty much. That’s a good eight years now,” he added. “I’m so excited right now.”
The Bozeman girls successfully defended their State AA crown, winning an incredible 13th title in the past 14 years. Two years ago, Missoula Hellgate snapped the Hawks’ championship streak at 11, before Bozeman got back on track in Great Falls last fall.
The Hawks scored 43 points behind seven top-20 finishes, led by Natalie Nicholas’ fifth-place effort. Hayley Burns, last year’s Class B state champion at Colstrip, finished sixth in her first Class AA state meet. Grace Gilbreth (ninth), Molly Sherman (11th), Polly Meshew (12th), Natalie McCormick (13th) and Lucia McCormick (17th) rounded out the Hawks’ finishers.
The Class AA girls individual race was highly-anticipated, with last year’s champion, Kylie Hartnett of Helena High, expected to contend with Missoula Hellgate sensation Sage Brooks, a Syracuse commit. Brooks led by a fraction of a second at the first mile, with Hartnett taking the lead at the second mile marker.
But it was Brooks’ teammate, junior Kensey May, that made the astounding push into the third mile, with her third split 13 seconds faster than the next best time, eventually overtaking Brooks and Hartnett to cross the line first in 19:21.03.
Hartnett was second at 19:26.88.
“I knew I wanted to (make a push). The last mile, I knew I just had to go out and start running hard. I could see (Brooks and Hartnett) and thought, ‘I could totally close this gap,’” said May. “I caught up to them, and with around a half-mile to go, I was like, ‘I’m right next to them, I need to start going,’ so I just went. I knew this was the last hill, so I was like, ‘Just kick it now. You can use the downhill, hopefully don’t slip or anything,’ but it worked.”
May and teammate Abby Kendrick hung behind Hartnett and Brooks through the first couple miles, each making their push late, a strategy that worked for both runners. Kendrick finished third, while Brooks wound up fourth.
“I’m really happy with how the rest of my team did. I think we could have done better, honestly, but we sacrificed and worked hard, so we all deserve it,” said May. “We were going to try to go 1-2-3. It was funny, at practice one time, Abby asked our coach, ‘Has anyone ever gone 1-2-3? We could do that.’”
“I’m really proud of Abby, because her plan was to stay with me, and she definitely did, and she did fantastic,” May continued. “Sage, her foot was kind of hurting, so I think that probably had a factor in her slowing down, but I think she could have won it too if it was a good day.
May, Kendrick, Brooks and Hellgate’s other two scorers — Izzy Munro (18th) and Stella Diaz (21st) challenged Bozeman for the team title, but ultimately fell four points short. Helena High placed third for the second consecutive year, with Odessa Zentz (14th) joining Hartnett in collecting all-state distinction for the second time in as many seasons.
For complete results from the Class AA state cross country invite, please click here.