Girls top five all finish among top 25 runners; Christensen paces the Bengal boys in 22nd
The Missoula Coaches Invitational was hotly contested in more ways than one.
With the sun beating down and no shade to be found on the hard-packed paths of Big Sky Horse Park on the western edge of Missoula, the Helena High girls finished runner-up to Hellgate and the boys placed sixth in a meet that featured two flights of four teams from the Western AA conference.
Led by three top seven placers in juniors Kylie Hartnett, Odessa Zentz and Rylie Schoenfeld, and another pair of top 25 finishes from juniors Carly Ryan and Annie Menden, the Bengals – who placed third at state a year ago – finished with 58 points, behind reigning state runner-up Hellgate at 28 and ahead of third-place Flathead at 77. The Braves were fourth at state last fall.
Hartnett ran in her signature style, leading from the start, but Hellgate senior Sage Brooks took the overall win in 18:38, while new teammate and junior Kensey May – who recently moved to Missoula from Virginia – placed second in 18:42. After leading through 2.5 miles, Hartnett maintained her composure and pushed through the finish in 18:53 in third place.
Zentz and Schoenfeld ran step-for-step through most of the race before Zentz made a late push in an attempt to reel in fourth-place finisher Abby Kendrick of Hellgate, and finished in 19:30 in fifth place – less than seven seconds behind Kendrick, last year’s third-place state finisher. Schoenfeld crossed moments later with a time of 19:37 in sixth place in the first four-team wave, and wound up seventh overall after results were combined with the second wave.
Ryan placed 20th in 21:38 for the Bengals, a 34-second improvement over her performance in last week’s time trial against Capital. Rounding out the team scoring for Helena was junior Annie Menden, making her first appearance in an official varsity race and walking away with a personal best of 21:58 – a 36-second improvement over her previous best established on a very fast Billings course last fall.
Also performing incredibly well in their first varsity appearances were freshmen Sofia Hinderman and Kelleigh McKay, who placed 37th and 40th with times of 23:22 and 23:49, respectively. After all results from the JV and varsity meet were combined, the two Bengals impressively ranked 5th and 7th among freshmen at the two-day event.
Leading the way for the Helena High boys was senior Dallin Christensen, who placed 22nd with a time of 18:32. From there, the Bengals arrived at the finish line in a quick procession with senior Ethan Nelson 30th in 18:44, junior Evan Stefaniak 34th in 19:08, sophomore Adam Ryland-Davis 35th in 19:10 and sophomore Mason Roush 38th in 19:36 to round out the team’s scoring five. Stefaniak was just 8 seconds shy of his personal best.
Helena’s boys also had a pair of freshmen in the varsity ranks with Trey Schlepp placing 48th in 20:07 and Ian Rasmann 54th in 21:09. Like the freshmen girls, the Helena duo ranked well against their peers, finishing 7th and 11th among freshmen boys at the eight-team meet.
In the team standings, Sentinel demonstrated why many consider them a state favorite with 20 points to dominate the meet, while Hellgate placed second with 45 and Capital was third with 91. Helena was sixth with 159 points.
Sentinel’s scoring runners placed an impressive 1-3-4-5-7, with meet champion Tanner Klumph posting an sound opening time of 15:58. Hellgate’s Miles Colescott broke up a Sentinel sweep of the top four spots with a time of 16:03 in second place.
The Bengals continue Friday night with a JV time trial under the lights at Vigilante Stadium, before heading to Kalispell next week for a two-day meet at Rebecca Farm.
Girls Results: http://competitivetiming.com/results/205216TSG
Boys results: http://competitivetiming.com/results/205216TSB