Everything fell into place for the Hamilton boy’s cross-country team. Anthony Schmalz won the race, Easton Albert finished fifth, Cameron Meikle was 10th, Karill Apedaile was 13th and Gregg Beck was 19th. More importantly than the placing of the lower two runners was the fact that they placed higher a couple of runners from Corvallis who finished second according to coach Mark Albert.
“We’ve been shooting for this for three years with this group,” said Albert. “This was the first time to have four (runners) on the podium and to win.”
Albert said his team ran their race and concentrated on keeping relaxed and staying in the groups they were supposed to. As the favorite going into the race, Albert said he tried to downplay the pressure on the team and instead focus on the journey. The process worked. Schmalz clocked a 15:30.18 to win; five seconds better than second place Jonathan Eastwood of Belgrade.
The second place finish by the Corvallis boys was a huge surprise to Corvallis coach Joanne Cleveland. “We were thinking if we ran well, we’d have a chance at third place.”
Instead, all seven runners ran exceptionally well and powered the Blue Devils to second place. “All ran in the 17’s (seconds) and placed well. All had good races at the end and did what needed to be done.”
Team scores – Hamilton 48, Corvallis 129, Laurel 137, Browning 161, Whitefish 164, Hardin 180, Lewistown 181, Miles City 251, Glendive 258, Belgrade 268, Havre 278, Frenchtown 337, Dillon 344, Columbia Falls 381, Livingston 399, Billings Central 406, Polson 430, Butte Central 447, Anaconda 464, Libby 639, Sidney n/a.
Individual (top local runners) – 1. Anthony Schmalz, Ham, 15:30.18; 5. Easton Albert, Ham, 15:47.19; 10. Cameron Meikle, Ham, 16:28.35; 11. Ronald Venema, Cor, 16:28.58; 13. Karill Apedaile, Ham, 16:34.83; 19. Greg Beck, Ham, 16:42.45; 21. Dane Watt, Cor, 16:46.43; 29. Carson Jessop, Cor, 17:07.82
The only unknown for the girls’ cross country race was which Blue Devil would cross the finish line first. Odds were on Isabella Pape this year but Sadi Henderson repeated as the state champion. Last year, Henderson clocked an 18:37.6. This year she crossed the finish line at 17:38.14. Pape was right behind at 18:11.41 and Kaycie Stewart came in third with an 18:29.88. But the Blue Devils weren’t done; Amelia Gardner finished 11th and Sydnee McClendon was 12th.
“It was pretty exciting,” said Cleveland. Both Amelia and Sydnee had PRs (personal records) by almost 30 seconds. To have all five in the top 15, and the third lowest score in Class A history, it doesn’t happen often.”
Cleveland said she wasn’t surprised that Henderson took the championship. Henderson had broken the 18-minute mark before this season and she knew she could do it again. Henderson and Stewart are seniors but the rest are underclassmen.
Team scores – Corvallis 29, Whitefish 126, Billings Central 129, Havre 166, Hamilton 169, Polson 183, Glendive 217, Columbia Falls 253, Livingston 273, Miles City 276, Dillon 281, Belgrade 289, Browning 289, Laurel 330, Hardin 340, Lewistown 351, Frenchtown 565, Libby 589, Anaconda, Butte Central, Sidney and Stevensville n/a.
Individual (top local runners) – 1. Sadi Henderson, Cor, 17:58.14; 2. Isabella Pape, Cor, 18:11.41; 3. Kaycie Stewart, Cor, 18:29.88; 7. Kaitlin Stromberg, Ham, 19:29.85; 11. Amelia Gardner, Cor, 19:38.68; 12. Sydnee McClendon, Cor, 19:39.34; 19. Rachel Wissenbach, Cor, 20:02.27; 22. Jaycie Schmalz, Ham, 20:27.91;
Lily Lang of Darby finished fourth with a time of 19:29.4. Dawson Jakober finished 22nd in the Class C race