The highly competitive Mountain West Classic has always proven to be a difficult race and was again Saturday at the University of Montana Golf Course.
More than 80 teams, from Idaho, Washington and Montana, competed in the event. Manhattan coach John Sillitti noted the flow of the race often dictates the pace due to the sheer volume of runners.
Thus, his boys came out slower than expected. But the girls ran their race plan to near perfection, finishing 11th in the team standings, led by Saige Duffin (40th, 20:10.87), Jodi Cameron (73rd, 20:44.43), and Jessa Steele (98th, 21:08.66).
“Our top three girls were all sick but ran to the plan anyway,” said Sillitti. “They all ran tough but are clearly capable of better times when healthy.”
The Tigers finished behind five Class AA and four out-of-state programs as well as two-time defending Montana State A champion Hardin. Sillitti credited his 4-5-6-7 runners — Hallie Hemenway, Paige Taylor, Pralie Duffin, Rylee Cameron — for making it possible.
“They executed the race plan perfectly, worked together like a collegiate team, all had huge PRs of 40-80 seconds,” said Sillitti. “And all finished under 22 minutes.”
The top local runner was Three Forks’ Kyle Olson. The senior finished 35th with a personal best 20:04.73 to help the Wolves place 35th as a team.
Manhattan Christian’s Shelby Walls set a season best after placing 134th in 21:36.16, while Belgrade was led by Marissa Giese, who was 135th (21:36.99). Belgrade finished 41st in the team standings.
On the boys side, Manhattan Christian placed 20th as a team with four harriers placing in the top 176 among 446 competitors. Ben Morrison led the Eagles, finishing 70th with a time of 17:17.15.
Manhattan was led by Zak Meeker and Bryce Love, who placed 48th and 86th, respectively with times of 17:04.24 and 17:24.23. As a team, the Tigers placed 32nd.
“We finished as the top Class B boys team, but Eureka would have gotten us if we only scored Class B runners,” said Sillitti. “The good news is we know we are much better than we ran — we were well off our season best times, and it was clear what we need to clean up in the final three weeks of training.”
Belgrade and Three Forks were 38th and 57th, respectively, in the team standings. The Panthers were led by Caden Chisholm (111th, 17:39.32), while Bryce Olson was the first Three Forks harrier to finish line with a personal best time of 19:09.26.
“Great efforts,” Belgrade coach Rachel White said. “Course was a little long, so times across the board were a little slow even for Bozeman, Laurel and other schools.”
Bozeman’s boys placed third behind out-of-state schools Lewis and Clark and Central Valley. Missoula Hellgate, which boasted six harriers in the top 25, won the girls title with Bozeman and Billings Senior following.
While the meet provided stiff competition, it also gave Montana’s runners a preview of the all-class state meet, which will be held Oct. 20.
“It was a good look at the state course and the kids are excited to run it again,” Christian coach Nate TeSlaa said.
Mountain West Classic
(at University of Montana Golf Course)
Team scores: Lewis and Clark 85, Central Valley 112, Bozeman 127, University 218, Gonzaga Prep 232, Kalispell Glacier 262, Rogers (Spokane) 270, Joel Ferris 283, Missoula Hellgate 328, Billings West 358, Billings Senior 373, Helena 402, Missoula Sentinel 403, Great Falls Russell 525, Columbia Falls 579, Helena Capital 581, Mt. Spokane 593, Lewistown 606, Laurel 634, Manhattan Christian 641, Cheney 644, Hardin 649, Great Falls 668, Billings Skyview 676, Kalisepll Flathead 678, Frenchtown 688, West Valley (Spokane) 705, Thunder Ridge 733, Omak 792, Corvallis 862, Soda Springs 864, Manhattan 872, Eureka 894, Hamilton 926, East Valley (Spokane) 940, Whitefish 985, Polson 987, Belgrade 1041, Post Falls 1096, Missoula Big Sky 1098, Deer Park 1098, Ronan 119, Moscow 1135, Butte 1139, Townsend 1168, Havre 1228, Livingston 1373, Teton 1394, Billings Central 1425, Red Lodge 1,431, Lakeland 1,434, Powell County 1,527, Browning 1,542, Poplar 1,560, Stevensville 1,692, Lodge Grass 1,732, Three Forks 1,776, Cut Bank 1,832, Colstrip 1,872, Whitehall 1,874, Libby 1,877, Arlee 1,979.
Top 30 individuals: Ben Perrin, Fla, 15:38.50; Wil Smith, L-C, 15:47.39; Stetson Moss, TR, 15:53.42; Ryan Kline, CV, 15:56.79; Levi Taylor, Lau, 16:04.45; Evan Peters, CV, 16:11.73; Jacob Easton, Uni, 16:12.66; Issak Chol, Rog, 16:14.17; SImon Hill, Gla, 16:15.96; Brett Bergler, L-C, 16:17.41; Patrick Korus, L-C, 16:24.55; Aren Alexander-Battee, Gla, 16:25.37; Gordon Gentry, CMR, 16:27.07; Bas Holland, Che, 16:27.40; Sam Fulbright, Lew, 16:28.08; Lukas Brown, Mt. S; 16:30.92; Jonas Bears, GP, 16:32.23; Xander Danenhauer, Boz, 16:33.89; Caleb Hornung, West, 16:35.86; Patrick North, L-C, 16:37.36; Kolby Green, WB, 16:39.55; Dax Summers, Hellgate, 16:40.63; Griffin May, Boz, 16:43.07; Sam Anderson, GP, 16:44.66; Will Miller, JF, 16:44.81; Joseph Nicholls, CV, 16:45.21; Renn Meuwissen, Boz, 16:46.62; Drew Roberts, Uni, 16:46.96; Brooks Peters, Boz, 16:48.02; Jonatahn Wheeler, Boz, 16:49.58.
Team scores: Missoula Hellgate 50, Bozeman 54, Billings Senior 108, Post Falls 291, Kalispell Flathead 308, Helena 328, Hardin 335, Soda Springs 360, Central Valley 426, Joel Ferris 433, Manhattan 456, Thunder Ridge 458, Gonzaga Prep 459, Billings West 464, Missoula Sentinel 481, Helena Capital 497, Whitefish 514, Billings Skyview 537, Corvallis 560, Mead 568, Kalispell Glacier 590, West Valley (Spokane) 629, Deer Park 652, Polson 708, Great Falls CMR 709, Laurel 714, Frenchown 718, Missoula Big Sky 727, Butte 744, Colstrip 762, West Yellowstone 840, Columbia Falls 870, Moscow 877, Hamilton 882, Three Forks 927, Cheney 931, Dillon 938, Red Lodge 947, Townsend 948, Great Falls 952, Belgrade 1,008; Havre 1,026; Lodge Grass 1,059; Eureka 1,082; Lakeland 1,169; Teton 1,326; Unviersity 1,327; Poplar 1,342; Browning 1,374; Lewistown 1,382; Cut Bank 1,550; Billings Central 1,594.
Top 30 individuals: Tiahna Vladic, Senior, 17:48.74; Ember Stratton, Hellgate, 18:16.49; Terra Trom, Boz, 18:30.00; Elise Stearns, Hellgate, 18:40.32; Beatrix Frissell, Pol, 18:40.37; Alex Moore, Boz, 18:51.48; Ella Degrandpre, Hellgate, 18:51.54; Kylie Hartnett, Helena, 18:54.92; Sydney Shanahan, PF, 18:59.33; Elena Vandersloot, Senior, 19:03.49; Emberlyn Hoffman-Gaschk, Skyview, 19:04.34; Hailey Thueson, TR, 19:04.37; Natalie McCormick, Boz, 19:04.83; Ellie Hull, Boz, 19:19.81; Abby Kendrick, Hellgate, 19:20.08; Jessica Moss, TR, 19:25.30; Jade Hallgrimson, Senior, 19:26.35; Riley Moore, Boz, 19:30.11; Jaylyn Hallgrimson, Senior, 19:30.84; Freya Jones, Big Sky, 19:30.93; Tori Noland-Gillespie, Flathead, 19:39.12; Katie Munro, Hellgate, 19:39.87; Samantha Wood, PF, 19:42.51; Madeline Swanberg, Hellgate, 19:43.20; Libby Nedens, Har, 19:45.93; Brynnli Poulsen, Ham, 19:48.83; Brooke Stayner, Sentinel, 19:50.63; Grace Gilbreth, Boz, 19:52.48; Whitney Hanson, Col, 19:57.51; Mackenzie Dean, CMR, 20:01.43.