This weekend will be a true test for the Havre High cross country teams.
The Mountain West Meet in Missoula brings in the state’s top runners at the Class AA, A, B and Class C level, as well as some top runners from surrounding states. And with the Central A Blue Ponies running against that talent on Saturday in Missoula, the Ponies know they are in store for a very competitive weekend.
Last year, University High was the No. 1 boy’s team, while Mount Spokane, Mead High, Missoula Hellgate, Billings West and Helena High also pushed for top team spots. And for the girls, it was Bozeman who took the No. 1 spot, while Billings Senior, Idaho Falls, Billings West, Soda Springs, Corvallis and Gonzaga Prep that also finished near the top. The HHS boys finished towards the bottom of the field with 1,904 points and the HHS girls finished near the top of the field, finishing as the No. 13 team with 409 points.
“As each week comes,” Havre High head coach Darci Heninger said. “Our workouts get harder and we go for longer runs. We have been doing a lot of tempo runs and running a lot of hills, so the workouts just get harder, and by this time they should all be in pretty good shape. So I think the kids should be ready, and we know the competition is going to be a lot tougher this weekend.”
Peyton Filius is expected to miss this weekend’s race, but Haley Ohm should lead the HHS girls once again. And with the HHS girls having decent depth this season, Tori Mazurkiewicz will run the varsity race, and is expected to do very well on the big stage.
“She will do fine,” Heninger said. “She runs very well, and runs really relaxed, and I think she will be just fine. She may be a little nervous because this is such a big race, but I really think she will do fine.
“And she (Ohm) is very confident when she is running,” Heninger continued. “She knows where she is comfortable at, and she knows where she needs to pick it up. If she just does the same thing as she did last week, the other girls will feed off of that because she is running so well right now. But Morgan and Rachel run right with Haley too, so I think if they continue to run with her, they should have a great day too.”
The HHS boys are coming off of a strong team showing last weekend, and could continue to show improvement.
With Elijah David, Sundance Lodge, Brock Ross, Brandon Robertson, Dylan Stewart, Ethan Smith and Cameron Knapton all running very well, they have the opportunity to have another good showing. David, Lodge, and Ross are all in the 18-minute range, but if the rest of the varsity seven could shave some time and crawl closer with their pack times, the Ponies will see a lot of improvement in the team standings this weekend and in the future.
But as a team, all of the HHS harriers are focused on just going out and running the best race possible.
Coach Heninger is not stressing team finishes just yet, instead, she is continuing to stress just how important it is to run smart. If the Ponies can continue to run strong and turn in solid individual times, the team rankings and finishes will take care of themselves. Heninger has preached from the get go, a strong and smart start, but an even stronger finish.
“That is what we have talked about,” Heninger said. “This is a tough race, but they have to focus on the first mile and be smart about it. If they go out too hard that is the end and it is just too hard to come out of that. My main concern is their individual efforts.”
Havre will run in the Mountain West race in Missoula on Saturday. The race will take place at the University of Montana Golf Course.