Scottie Girls Win Third Straight State Title; Boys Edge Out Cut Bank For Spot On Podium
BY J. LEVI BURNFIN COURIER SPORTS
Published: Thursday, October 25th, 2012
For the third straight year, the Scottie girls reign supreme in Class B cross country.
“Every year, it becomes more and more pressure,” said Rachael Zeiger.
Next year’s team is going to have that much more pressure as the Scottie girls continued their tradition of brilliance in cross country. It wasn’t quite the dominating performance that the Scottie girls had in 2011 – placing five runners in the top 15 at state – but the girls were still able to capture their 15th state title and third in a row.
“It was just complete excitement. It was wonderful,” said Josie Braaten.
The girls weren’t able to get too excited for quite some time, though.
“It was a little different because we knew we had won last year but this year we had no idea because there were a lot of teams that we thought were with us,” said Braaten.
One of those teams was Plains, who had three girls finish in the top 11 and looked to be primed for a run to the podium. But just like several teams at the meet, Plains doesn’t have the depth of runners like the Scottie girls.
“We knew there were a bunch of girls out there that would run well but not the full team to complement them,” said Head Coach Rod Karst.
Glasgow finished four in the top 18, including two that made all-state by placing in the top 15 – Josie Braaten, sixth, and Rachael Zeiger, 13th. Amanda Wolff took 16th and Emma Fewer was 18th.Their fifth runner, Ellen Walstad, placed 29th and their sixth, Alex Simensen, was 34th. Laurel Wageman, their final runner, was able to finish in 76th, which beat out many schools’ fifth runner.
That kind of depth is rare. And that’s what led the Scottie girls to the top of the podium with 82 points. Second place Colstrip finished with 133 points and Missoula Loyola came in third with 139 points.
The boys’ had their own streak going before last season. They had placed third in three straight seasons before 2011, when they placed fourth.
The boys goal this entire season was to reclaim a spot back on the podium and they were able to accomplish that by edging out Cut Bank for third place with 214 points. Cut Bank finished only three points behind at 217.
The boys “were pretty excited,” said Karst.
But like the girls, they had to wait to learn their fate.
“I was surprised [when I found out we took third.] I didn’t think we could have done that with our [individual] placing,” said Matthew Phillips.
The hills and wind may have played a part in how well the boys thought they ran. The course was a one-mile loop littered with hills that runners completed three times. Those hills made times a little slower across the board for many runners. But it didn’t slow Glasgow down enough to knock them off the podium.
Two Scotties were all-state. Austin Green led the way with an 11th-place finish and Phillips was right on his tail, finishing only 1.4 seconds behind in 13th.
Their runners began to spread out after that with Bridger Sanders finishing in 26th, Walker Allen taking 56th and Ben Kountz in 108th. Andrew Fransen and Braden Meland took 138th and 144th respectively.
“It was both relieving and exiting,” said Phillips. “I am definitely happy to have a trophy and really happy for Austin, who really wanted one.”
Green was one of two seniors (Kountz is the other) on the squad who can proudly graduate after taking their cross country team back to the podium.
For the girls, Wageman was the lone senior on the squad. The state banner will forever represent her class.
But for Rachael Zeiger, Emma Fewer and Ellen Walstad, they have now been on three-straight state championship teams with one more year to try to make it four straight and break the state championship record for girl’s cross country. This year’s title ties Flathead with 15 for the most state championships in Montana history.
“Our graduates are really supportive still and I don’t want to let them down,” said Zeiger.
Those graduates, like Sienna Dailey, Alyssa Hoffman, Jami Johnson and Emily Braaten, have built a foundation of excellence and the present Scottie girls are expanding that tradition.
The Scottie girls have won six of the last eight state championships, with no end in sight. The girls should return three juniors, four sophomores and four freshmen from this year’s team and even more talent is coming up from junior high.
The boys will lose two seniors in Green and Kountz. However, they should return four juniors, a sophomore and four freshmen. Both teams should compete to repeat this year’s success.
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