Polson harriers prepare for divisionals
POLSON — For the last month or so, the Polson Fairgrounds has been home to Indian National Finals Tour Rodeo contestants and high school rodeo competitors with horsetrailers parked around the arena and oats and bales of hay to feed the animals.
The only bales visible at the fairgrounds on Saturday, Sept. 22, were bales of straw set up for cross-country competitors to jump, and buses were the main mode of transportation at the Polson High School Invitational cross-country meet. Teams from Hamilton, Corvallis, Glacier High School, Kalispell, Bigfork and Phillipsburg all attended.
With 27 runners out for cross country, Seeley said PHS is right on the cusp of where he really would like the team to be, fielding a full team of seven for both varsity and junior varsity.
The team makeup is unusual because 11 of the 14 girls are juniors.
“That group has been great,” Seeley added,” but we only have them for one more year.”
Then the PHS team will need to fill their shoes.
Chris McElwee has a very successful middle school cross-country program, and his middle school team will be feeding into the high school program. The middle school girls currently are undefeated, so Seeley has high hopes.
All the runners are improving and working hard. Not many team members put in a lot of work over the summer, so Seeley is excited to see the fitness level come up.
For the boys’ team, Seeley said they all know they can run a little bit faster.
“We have our work to do to get up to that level in running,” Seeley said. “In running, you sometimes have breakthroughs, but usually it’s a slow progression.”
The girls’ team is exciting but can be frustrating since they’ve had trouble with injury.
“We don’t always have our team out there and racing well,” Seeley explained.
For instance, Aja Starkey came out really strong and ran a couple of amazing races, Seeley said, but has developed a new lower leg problem. Starkey’s wearing a boot to stabilize her leg and heal up as quickly as possible, but the question is whether or not she’ll be able to run cross-country.
Freshman Sandra Crossett, who won the junior varsity meet at Ronan, has moved up to varsity, as have Amanda Stobie and Hallie Hovenkotter, who are both getting stronger.
The girls’ team is the defending divisional champ and could repeat, Seeley said, although they would have to outrun Whitefish, a tough competitor.
As for the boys, Whitefish is by far the strongest team in the conference and has been running competitively with the AA schools. Divisionals may be a contest to see how close Polson and Columbia Falls can stick to Whitefish.
Although there’s a lot of talk about varsity runners, Seeley said one of the neat things about cross country is that kids who aren’t as fast do the same training and run the same courses. They can improve more than the other kids, and varsity runners like to see that push and try.
Also, this year Polson has two exchange students, Antti Ranta from Finland and Benedetta Basivo from Italy. Both are new to running although Ranta was a skier in Finland.
1st Hamilton (89 points), 2nd Glacier (62), 3rd Corvallis (50), 4th Polson (29), 5th Bigfork (13)
Top 15 Individuals
1 Easton Albert, Hamilton - 16:16
2 Morly Jessop, Corvallis - 16:44
3 Rueben Castren, Glacier - 16:46
4 Anthony Smalz, Hamilton - 16:52
5 Cameron Meikle, Hamilton - 17:12
6 Logan Morley, Big Fork - 17:13
7 Karill Apedaile, Hamilton - 17:17
8 Kade McCutcheon, Glacier - 17:18
9 Noah Hill, Glacier - 17:32
10 Greg Beck, Hamilton - 17:45
11 Logan Harmon, Glacier - 17:51
12 Travis Hayes, Polson - 17:58
13 Tanner Olson, Glacier - 18:03
14 Sam Parker, Hamilton - 18:18
15 Tel Motichka, Polson - 18:20
1st Corvallis (90 pts), 2nd Hamilton (79), 3rd Glacier (44), 4th Polson (38), 5th Big Fork (22), 6th Phillipsburg (11)
Top 15 Individuals
1 Makenna Morley, Big Fork - 17:31
2 Sadie Henderson, Corvallis - 19:12
3 Claudia Hewston, Polson - 19:59
4 Kaycie Stewart, Corvallis - 20:06
5 Jenny Smith, Hamilton - 20:25
6 Jessica Chery, Glacier - 20:41
7 Isabella Pape, Corvallis - 20:47
8 Sara Amish, Hamilton - 20:51
9 Rachel Wissenbach, Corvallis - 20:55
10 Taylor Gogo, Hamilton - 21:04
11 Kaitlin Stromberg, Hamilton - 21:10
12 Sarah Del Ree, Hamilton - 21:11
13 Chelsea Olson, Big Fork - 21:13
14 Hanna Smith, Corvallis - 21:23
15 Lakyn Conners, Corvallis - 21:37