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Belgrade Invitational Info

The Bengals resume competition with both varsity and junior varsity runners at the Belgrade Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 7.


The bus to Billings will leave from Helena High at 6:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, which means that athletes should arrive at the school 15 minutes prior to departure time to ensure they’re seated and accounted for. We will load our team tents, as well.


The Belgrade Invitational will be conducted at Gallatin County Regional Park IN BOZEMAN. Parents, you can click on the name of the park above for a Google maps location to ensure you arrive safely and on time to cheer the Bengals.

When available, a map of the course will be provided below.


  • 8:30-9:15 am: Walk through on your own (Please be off the course by 9:55 am)
  • 10:00 am: Junior Varsity Girls
  • 10:45 am: Junior Varsity Boys
    • Junior Varsity Awards
  • 11:30 am: Varsity Girls
  • 12:00 pm: Varsity Boys
    • Varsity Awards Presentation
  • 12:30 pm: MS Girls
  • 1:00 pm: MS Boys
    • MS Awards



Billings Invitational Info

The Bengals kick off the season with both varsity and junior varsity runners at the Billings Invitational on Friday, August 30.

ATHLETES! The bus to Billings will leave from Helena High at 6 a.m. Friday, August 30, which means that athletes should arrive at the school no later than 5:45 a.m. to ensure they’re seated before the departure time. We will load our team tents, as well.

The meet begins at noon (schedule below) at Amend Park on the south side of Billings – conveniently located just off Interstate 90. Parents, you can click on the name of the park above for a Google maps location to ensure you arrive safely and on time to cheer the Bengals.

A map of the course is below. It is flat and very fast.

One interesting note. This meet will be scored county vs. county, meaning we will be lumped together with Capital High representing Lewis and Clark County. They will also provide standard scoring, as well.


  • 11:30 am: Self-guided walkthrough
  • 12 pm: Junior Varsity Boys
  • 12:25 pm: Varsity Boys
  • 12:50 pm: Junior Varsity Girls
  • 1:25 pm: Varsity Girls


8-24-2018 2-02-25 PM

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:


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.

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)