Junior Kylie Hartnett ran a composed and determined race at Kalispell’s sun-kissed Rebecca Farm 5-kilometer cross country course Friday and led Helena High to a strong second-place showing with three Bengals in the top six finishers and four among the top 13.
Hartnett posted her fastest time this season in an event that featured a unique format to accommodate the MHSA’s race requirements of just 28 runners at the starting line. The 1-3-5-7 runners and 2-4-6 runners from each team were split up, meaning Hartnett, junior Rylie Schoenfeld, junior Annie Menden and senior Claire Downing were in the first race, while junior Odessa Zentz, junior Carly Ryan and sophomore Lexi Erdahl toed the line 5 minutes later.
Hartnett led from start to finish, while Hellgate junior Kensey May finished second in the wave and in the race. Zentz ran neck-and-neck with Hellgate seniors Sage Brooke and Abby Kendrick, before Brooks broke away to claim the second wave and place third overall. Zentz and Schoenfeld finished fourth and sixth overall in 19:44 and 20:08, respectively, while Ryan posted a season-best time of 20:53 in 13th place. Menden finished 30th in 22:22 to round out Helena’s scoring with her second-best time in her career. Downing, meanwhile, shaved 24 seconds off her season best to finish 36th in 22:57, and Erdahl, running her first race this season, was 44th in 23:52.
Hellgate claimed the team title with 33 points, while the Bengals posted 51 and Flathead was third with 72. The Braves’ top finisher was freshman Lilli Rumsey Eash in eighth with a clocking of 20:15.
In the Junior Varsity division, Helena placed third with 97 points, while Hellgate (22) and Flathead (42) claimed first and second.
Freshman Sofia Hinderman lead the Bengals in seventh placed with a personal best of 22:54. Senior Maddy Murgel was 17th (24:32), freshman Kelleigh McKay placed 19th (24:40), junior Olivia Coburn finished 26th (25:14) and Breanna Brewer was 36th (26:05) to round out the team’s scoring group of five.
Also running for the Bengals were senior Katelyn Hamill (42nd, 26:24), junior Naomi Sweeney (43rd, 26:28), junior Haily Tolman (46th, 26:50), junior Grace Oelkers (58th, 28:05), sophomore Aelish Barrs (68th, 29:16), freshman Eva Hicks (69th, 29:22), sophomore Gabby Radley (80th, 30:00), sophomore Eva Cobb (86th, 30:18), junior Hannah Romney (88th, 30:52) and freshman Alivia Thunstrom (89th, 30:54).
Hamill, Oelkers, Cobb and Romney were running in their first official race this season, while Barrs, Hicks, Radley and Thunstrom posted their first official race times in their young careers.
On the boys side, Helena placed fifth as the team’s top four finishers were separated by a mere eight seconds. Junior Evan Stefaniak led the way in 22nd with a personal best of 18:34, sophomore Adam Ryland-Davis was 23rd in a personal best of 18:37, senior Ethan Nelson finished 24th in 18:40 and senior Dallinn Christensen was 25th in 18:42.
Rounding out the Bengals’ scoring was sophomore Mason Roush in 42nd with a time of 19:25. Freshmen Trey Schlepp (49th, 20:15) and Ian Rasmann (52nd, 20:39) both posted personal bests in the race.
The Bengals finished with 136 points behind Sentinel (28), Hellgate (41), Capital (94) and Glacier (105).
Helena’s top time at the meet for the boys was posted by senior Robert Wagner, as he was competing in his first meet this season and cruised across the finish line in third with a time of 18:31.
Sophomore Taylor Parisot was the team’s second JV finisher in a time of 20:28, and he was followed by four freshmen, who all chalked up personal bests – Andrew Madsen (65th, 22:40), Kriz Fernandez (71st, 23:31), Andrew Mendez (79th, 24:01) and Kai Moser (101st, 31:02).
The JV boys placed seventh with 174 points, while Hellgate (31) and Sentinel (43) led the way.
Helena returns to action this week with seven junior varsity runners competing Friday at Linda Vista Golf Course in Missoula, followed by the varsity teams on Saturday.