What’s new?


NXR Recap


Photo Gallery | Results

Twelve Helena High runners recently journeyed to Boise, Idaho for Nike Cross Regionals and returned to Helena with memories that will last a lifetime.

While the competition was exciting and rewarding for the runners, Helena’s contingent also had the opportunity to meet an American record-holder, take in some sites and sounds in a city/region many of them had never visited, and even got in some shopping and a couple rounds of bowling.

The hope is to make traveling to this meet an annual event. Not only does it provide athletes an incredible competitive opportunity, but it also serves to strengthen friendships and allow runners to witness the scale and grandeur of an event of this caliber. The hope is that it whets their appetites for seasons to come.

NXR is an annual postseason event that features teams from seven states (Montana, Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming). Teams invited to the compete in the championship division can advance to Nike Cross Nationals (NXN) in Portland.

This year, the Bengals – competing as the Helena Vigilante Runners because of postseason rules – faced off with competition in the Open Invitational division, which featured two races, and both the boys and girls teams performed well.

Day 1

We kicked off our adventure with a 1:30 p.m. caravan departure from Helena High on Thursday, November 8 and made our way to our first stop in Dillon.


While there, we gathered for a 3-mile shakeout run, a quick stop at the Patagonia outlet store, followed by an early dinner at Sparky’s Garage. The kids had a good time getting to know each other better and fueled up with fries, burgers, chicken strips and a variety of other meals for the next leg of our journey to Pocatello, Idaho.

We arrived in Pocatello at 8:30 p.m., and the team immediately found their way to the pool for a game of 500 and some good laughs.

Day 2

We started the second leg of our journey early and departed Pocatello at 8:30 a.m. to make our way 2 1/2 hours to the west for lunch in Mountain Home.

The runners stopped at a variety of restaurants because Bozeman’s 80-plus runners created an incredibly long line at Subway. The majority of the Bengals shared a table at Winger’s and closed out lunch with a couple games of pool.

From there, we departed for Boise and made a detour to travel to the course the slow way. Along the way, we passed by Boise State’s Bronco stadium and got a brief look at downtown Boise.

At about 2 p.m., we arrived at Eagle Island State Park for a course preview. We jogged the course as a team – six girls and six boys – and stopped for some fun photos along the way. I sensed some nerves developing as the athletes got a first look at the course they’d race on about 24 hours later.





After our course preview, we stopped in at the Nike Outlet Store, then ate dinner before heading into downtown Boise for packet pickup.

The city was alive when we arrived with fans heading to the Boise State football game and many others just out on the town. With some time to kill, we stopped in at Dawson’s Coffee, where they runners shared a few stories and laughs.


Next, it was off to packet pickup at the Grove Hotel, where we picked up our numbers, commemorative beanies for each runner and were fortunate enough to meet Courtney Frerichs, the America record-holder in the women’s steeplechase. She also won a silver medal at the 2017 World Championships in that event.


We lingered a little while longer, while the runners met a few other athletes from other states and danced … well not so much danced as bobbed to the beat.

We then departed and made our way back to the hotel, where the Bengals affixed their numbers to their Vigilante singlets and settled down for a restful night ahead of the big race.

Day 3 – Race Day

Yours truly and my youngest daughter, Leila, were the first to race, as we headed to the course for the Adult and Middle School Community Competitions.

After getting a feel for what the high schoolers were going to face later in the day, I headed back to the hotel and joined second-to-none chaperone Jesika Fisher to transport the team to the course.

The girls raced first with a 12:45 start time, and they performed admirably. Kylie Hartnett led the way and finished second overall in the merged Open Invitational races. She ran the 5-kilometer course in 18:41, while the Open Invitational winner posted a time of 18:22. Hartnett’s time was good enough for 34th overall when combined with the Championship division, truly remarkable for a freshman making her first NXR appearance. She was the fifth freshman overall on the day.




nike xc country 2018 415

nike xc country 2018 290

Next across the line for Helena was freshman Rylie Schoenfeld in 20:04 (49th) in the Open Invitational division. She was followed by freshman Kylee Wetzel in 20:44 (120th), freshman Linnea Onushco in 21:31 (218), freshman Odessa Zentz in 21:40 (235) and freshman Grace Oelkers in 21:56 (262). The girls posted a team score of 473 points to place 13th in a field of 52 Open Invitational teams.

Onushco and Zentz – who both love running cross country, but played soccer throughout the fall – joined the Bengal runners for the trip, which allowed the team to run with the required five runners for a team score.

After the girls completed their race, the boys were ready to hit the starting line.

As the gun fired, the Helena contingent could be easily spotted with their navy blue Vigilante tops and hot pink shorts.







Junior Jonah Fisher led the way and placed 48th in a time of 16:55. He was followed by sophomore Trystan Brewer and senior Zane Roush, who ran most of the race together. Brewer was 109th in 17:13 and Roush placed 126th in 17:17. Sophomore Ethan Nelson crossed the finish line fourth for Helena in 18:47 (461st), sophomore Ian Lovshin was 510th in 19:03 and senior Eric Carlson ran 20:05 (631st). Helena’s boys finished 37th out of 84 teams in the Open Invitational division with 974 points.

We stuck around for about two more hours to cheer Montana runners competing in the Championship division and to celebrate Hartnett’s medal presentation.



After a return to the hotel, followed by dinner, we scattered through The Village shopping center. Some shopped, some played some shopping games, and we all ended up together bowling at Big Al’s Family Fun Center. One takeaway is that I think more bowling nights are in order for team building during the winter months back in Helena.

Day 4

The journey home started at 9 a.m. and consisted of a couple stops, most notably a picnic lunch at Craters of the Moon National Monument. After a quick lunch, some scattered snowball fights and a team picture, we journeyed the rest of the way back to Helena.


This trip will not soon be forgotten, and hopefully is the first of many.

Special thanks to Jesika Fisher for serving as a driver and chaperone, to the Hartnett family for taking hundreds of photos and to my wife for providing support throughout the four days to help make this trip possible.

Team Building Minicamp: Fun, Run & Food

To build team camaraderie, see new places and have some fun this summer, we are planning a fun one-day team-building mini-camp on August 24. This will count as an official practice and it will provide our athletes – new and old – the opportunity to get to know their teammates and coaches better.

What to bring

  • Positive attitude
  • Running gear (of course)
  • Swimsuit or post-run beach clothes – you will have an opportunity to change in privacy if needed
  • Life jacket if you own one

Tentative Schedule

  • 7:30 a.m. – Meet at Costco parking lot to carpool (leave parking lot at 7:45 a.m.)
  • 8:15 a.m. – Run – this is the practice part 😉 – at Black Sandy State Park
    • There will be an 8-mile (Packs 2 and 3) and a 5-mile option (Pack 1): Both routes will be an out-and-back on Hauser Dam Road and the riverside trail beyond the dam. Click here to view the 8-mile route or view the image below.
    • There are a couple technical and overgrown sections of the trail, which we will navigate slowly by slowing to a hike to ensure safety.
    • Runners are encouraged to swim or wade in the river during or after the run to cool off.
  • 10 a.m. – Rehydration and donuts/bagels/bananas post-run.
  • 10:30 a.m. – Carpool to Olivia’s house on Hauser Lake
  • 11 a.m. – Team talk/meeting (expectations, goals, nutrition, etc.)
  • 11:30 a.m. – Team-building activities, lunch and leisure (Games/contests: watermelon eating contest, cheese puff toss, ladder ball, hula-hoop contest, Drip Drip Drop, spike ball, bocce ball)
  • 3 p.m. – Return to town (Big Dipper) to volunteer at fundraiser fun-run

Hauser Mini-Camp Route.png



Summer Cross Country Camps

This summer, there are some great opportunities in the region to take part in a distance/cross country camp. Not only are camps a great opportunity to get in some fantastic training in an new environment, but they offer an opportunity to gain knowledge, insight and perspective from a variety of well-qualified sources and peers. On top of all the great knowledge and training, you’ll likely have a ton of fun, and you’ll make some great friends.

I’ve always firmly believed it’s important to branch out, when possible. A fresh perspective from different coaches and athletes can help you gain a better appreciation for the sport and the people who participate in it. It also broadens your network of friends and mentors, which will be a valuable asset as you continue to develop and mature.

All of the camps I have listed below are organized and staffed by some of the top authorities on the sport in our immediate proximity and in the U.S. Some are pricey, while others are more affordable. If you’re interested, but have questions, please ask by shooting me an email at jzentz@gmail.com, or reach out to me at practice.

Ordered based on general proximity to Helena, MT:


State Meet Recap

Results | Photos | Media



The Helena High girls put together an incredibly strong showing that the state meet with freshman Kylie Hartnett leading the way with a seventh-place finish for her first All-State honor.

Hartnett’s run helped catapult the Bengals to an impressive fourth-place finish in the team battle, as Missoula Hellgate claimed the top spot, ahead of Bozeman in second and Billings Senior in third. Hellgate’s victory snapped Bozeman’s 11-year championship streak.

Hartnett finished in 18 minutes, 36 seconds, and was the only freshman All-Stater. Meanwhile, freshman Rylie Schoenfeld and senior Jasmine Wilkerson narrowly missed out on All-State finishes (top 15) as they placed 19th and 20th with personal-best performances. Schoenfeld was the second freshman finisher in 19:29, a 30-second improvement, and Wilkerson capped her Bengal career in 19:31.

Another Helena freshman, Kylee Wetzel, ran to a 29th-place finish in 2:07, while senior Katelyn McKay rounded out the team’s scoring as the fifth runner in 20:37 for 41st place.

The Bengals finished with 116 point. Hellgate won with an impressive tally of 37, while Bozeman totaled 57 and Senior chalked up 85.

Helena’s sixth and seventh finishers at state were senior Paige Aasved in 22:45 and freshman Breanna Brewer in 22:46.



Led by junior Jonah Fisher’s 16th-place finish in 16:34 and a strong run by the tightly packed trio of senior Zane Roush (16:56, personal best, 31st), sophomore Trystan Brewer (16:58, 33rd) and junior Clayton Ryerson (17:00, 34th), the Bengals placed eighth in a crowded and competitive field. Junior Sam Sullivan was Helena’s fifth scorer in 56th.

Bozeman claimed its 11th consecutive team title with 65 points, and was followed by Hellgate (128), Senior (136), Glacier (137), Sentinel (145), Billings West (148) and CM Russell (164).

Helena’s sixth and seventh runners were junior Nick Pida in 61st with a personal best of 17:38 and sophomore Ethan Nelson in 84th with a best of 18:30.

While the eighth-place finish wasn’t an improvement over the team’s 2017 result, the Bengals did perform well at the state meet. In fact, demonstrating how much things can change from year to year, their top-5 combined time (1:25:04) from this season was 2:33 faster than last year (1:27:37). Adding to that, this year’s combined time closely compares to their combined performance in 2013 (1:24:52), when the team placed third, further demonstrating the strength of the 2018 state meet field.

Despite that impressive year-to-year improvement, they placed eighth for the second straight season in a crowded field. With just one senior graduating from the state team, the Bengals are already looking forward to improving further in 2019. Here’s a look at how the boys combined time matches up against past seasons. It’s safe to say, things are moving in the right direction with this squad.

  • 2018 – 1:25:04 (8th)
  • 2017 – 1:27:37 (8th)
  • 2016 – 1:26:33 (11th)
  • 2015 – 1:24:16 (6th)
  • 2014 – 1:24:09 (5th)
  • 2013 – 1:24:52 (3rd)
  • 2012 – 1:28:07 (6th)
    • NOTE: Times from 2012-2016 were rough conversions from 3 miles to 5K (3.11 miles)

State Meet Information

Apologies for getting this posted so late.

It’s finally here and the kids are ready to roll. The 2018 state meet is shaping up to be a great weekend for running, and the kids deserve it after putting in so much hard for that past five months – ranging from summer runs in the dreadful August heat to chilly outings in the snow this fall. It all comes down to this and we couldn’t be more excited for this amazing group of Bengals. Believe and be positive!

  • Bus leave time: 7:30 a.m. Saturday (Athletes, arrive 15 minutes early so we’re settled and ready to roll.)
  • Meet Schedule
    • 11:00 am C-Girls At conclusion, C Girls’ individual awards
    • 11:35 am AA-Girls At conclusion, AA Girls’ individual awards
    • 12:10 pm C-Boys At conclusion, C Boys’ individual awards
      and C boys’/girls’ team trophies
    • 12:40 pm AA-Boys At conclusion, AA Boys’ individual awards
      and AA boys’/girls’ team trophies
    • 1:10 pm A-Girls At conclusion, A girls’ individual awards
    • 1:45 pm B-Girls At conclusion, B girls’ individual awards
    • 2:20 pm A-Boys At conclusion, A boys’ individual awards
      and a boys’/girls’ team trophies
    • 2:50 pm B-Boys At conclusion, B boys’ individual awards
      and B boys’/girls’ team trophies
  • Morning reminder: Eat a balanced breakfast you know your stomach can handle to ensure your body if fueled and ready to go for the race.
  • Do not forget: Make sure you pack you uniform, spikes, team warmup gear, snacks, hydration and clothing for all weather conditions (we live in Montana and things can change at any moment); also bring money for a meal at the mall after the meet.


Crosstown Recap

Complete results | Team pictures | Helena IR story

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


The Helena High boys extended their Crosstown winning streak to 18, and the Bengal girls got back on the winning track with a strong win against their city rivals.

On the boys side, Capital senior Jesse McMurtrey took the individual crown in 16:49, but Helena claimed the next four spots with junior Jonah Fisher (16:59) in second, sophomore Trystan Brewer (17:09) in third, junior Clayton Ryerson (17:11) in fourth, and senior Zane Ryerson (17:13) in fifth.

Capital senior Peter Lund (17:23) and Bruin freshman Carlin Onstad (17:46) ran personal bests to place sixth and seventh, while Helena junior Sam Sullivan secured the Bengal victory in 8th with a time of 17:51. Bengal junior Nick Pida (18:08) and sophomore Ethan Nelson (18:46) finished 11th and 14th.

Helena’s boys finished with 22 points against Capital’s 33.

On the girls side, freshman Kylie Hartnett, who has been duking it out with the state’s best all season, led wire-to-wire to pick up her first victory in 19:21. Senior Jasmine Wilkerson was next in a personal best 20:03, and was followed closely by freshman Rylie Schoenfeld (20:07) in third and freshman Kylee Wetzel (20:27) in fourth.

Capital sophomore Emma Roher-Fitzhugh was fifth in 20:35, and Helena senior Katelyn McKay placed sixth in 21:09, giving the Bengals 16 points. Capital finished with 43.

Junior Varsity

The Helena High girls dominated junior varsity action with the first 14 finishers donning cardinal and white, while Capital’s boys earned a big victory against the Bengal boys.

Junior Jordynn Greve paced the Helena girls with the victory in 22:19, but freshman Carly Ryan (22:22) and junior Alyssa Plant (22:27) were nipping at her heels in second and third. Sophomore Maddy Murgel (22:40) was fourth and freshman Naomi Sweeney ran a personal best of 22:42 to secure the Bengals’ perfect score of 15 against Capital’s 50.

The next nine runners across the line were also Bengals, leaving the first Capital runner in 15th:

6. Hannah Romney, 22:44
7. Payton Aasved, 23:25
8. Janell Swanson, 23:34
9. Annie Menden, 23:45
10. Robin Triem, 23:50
11. Tatum McNamara, 23:53 SR
12. Madelyn Edwards, 24:17 PR
13. Reegan Walsh, 24:32 PR
14. Katelyn Hamill, 24:37 PR

The meet capped an outstanding season for the Bengal girls junior varsity. The team finished fourth or better in every meet, including third place at the prestigious Mountain West Classic and third at the Capital City 7 vs. 7, which serves as the unofficial JV state championship meet.

In the boys junior varsity race, Capital claimed the top four spots, with Helena finishing fifth through eighth. Capital also claimed ninth to earn the win with 19 points against Helena’s 36.

The Bengals’ top finisher was junior Grayson Bonilla (19:12) in fifth, but sophomore Ian Lovshin nearly caught him at the line with a big personal best of 19:12 in sixth. Senior Eric Carlson (19:14) placed eighth, and junior Roy Rindal (19:18) was fifth for Helena.

The Bengals’ fifth scoring runner was Boyd Stutz in 10th with a time of 19:23, holding off teammate and sophomore Dallin Christensen also in 19:23.

Crosstown Meet Info

Can you believe it’s here? Crosstown will mark the end of the official high school season for our Junior Varsity runners and a send-off to state for the Varsity squads. The meet is Wednesday, Oct. 10 at Bill Roberts Golf Course, and begins at 3 p.m. with the middle school boys and girls race. Please arrive early to cheer on the future Bengals and Bruins, as our programs owe a lot to the work our middle school coaches and athletes put in. We will also spend some time before the races to recognize seniors from both Helena schools.

Below, you’ll find meet information, including the school release time and other important details. At the bottom of this email, I have provided information about this week’s spaghetti feed.

Important Athlete Information

  1. Runners will be released from school at 2:20 p.m. and must find their own ride to Bill Roberts Golf Course
  2. Runners are required to stay at the golf course for the duration of the meet.
  3. Eat and hydrate properly throughout the day to ensure you’re not running on empty before the race.
  4. Dress warm and bring extra layers to ensure you’re not shivering or wet at the start of the race. The current forecast is calling for a high of 40 degrees with a chance of rain. Pack two trash bags – one to put over your backpack in the event of rain, and another to clean up after the meet.
  5. Wear your team gear (T-shirts and sweatshirts) throughout the meet to exhibit your school spirit and team pride.
  6. Pack your uniform and racing spikes or flats. This course consists of mostly grass with small sections of dirt trail. Spikes are recommended.
  7. The meet schedule is posted below, so please review it and plan your eating and hydration accordingly.

Meet schedule:

  • 3 p.m. – Middle School Boys and Girls
  • 4:15 p.m. – High School Boys
  • 4:45 p.m. – High School Girls

Spaghetti Feed

This week’s spaghetti feed will be hosted by the Taylors, who are located at 11 Howard Beer Rd. in Montana City. Take the Montana City exit, turn right, go up Jackson Creek Rd. until you reach Howard Beer Rd (about 3 miles). Take Howard Beer Rd. and the Taylors are the first house with the barn on the hill. Contact number is 406-459-7658 in case you get lost.