A freak snow shower produced a little anxiety but didn’t deter Bozeman High’s cross-country teams.
Led by a pair of individual winners in seniors Caroline Hardin and Jason Holmes, Bozeman cruised to a sweep of Butte High in a dual meet Thursday at Lindley Park. The Hawks earned perfect scores and placed nine boys and nine girls in the top 10.
The Bulldogs didn’t submit enough varsity runners for the boys race, so the Hawks earned a forfeit victory in their final race before the Class AA state meet Oct. 26 in Missoula.
Hardin’s victory in 15 minutes, 9.94 seconds was her fourth in a row in the annual 2.5-mile trek. As is custom, she immediately turned and started clapping for her teammates within seconds of crossing the finish line.
Soon after the three-time state champion completed her run, the Creel sisters came through. Bridget (15:28.34) beat older sister Andrea (15:32.66) by 4 seconds, and then Piper Meuwissen and Aja Starkey finished tenths of a second apart (15:33.31-15:33.94).
“There were a lot of hard practices this week for those that are going to state, and so I know we didn’t have the freshest legs to run on,” senior Brigid Bradshaw said. “It was just a good workout before state.”
A short burst of inclement weather passed through town as the middle school race was in its final stage, pausing the Hawks girls prior to their warmup. The intermittent cloud cover and slight temperature drop that followed were largely insignificant.
“Everyone just mentally prepared for snow,” Bradshaw said. “Then, as we did our static stretching, it stopped and turned sunny, cleared up. We had to reset our mindset, but it wasn’t a big deal.”
Bradshaw was one of roughly 25 Hawks whose careers ended Thursday; Bozeman can only bring seven runners to state, and head coach Clint May usually has his roster set prior to the home meet.
The Hawks treat the run as a farewell to its seniors.
“It was a nice way to end it for the kids who don’t get to go on to state and to thank our seniors,” Colter May said. “We do pretty hard workouts beforehand … and use this as a training race. The team did fairly well — we perfect-scored it, which was nice.”
Holmes crossed the line 23 seconds faster than classmate Habib Mostefa (13:05.69-13:28.06) as six senior boys claimed the top six placements. Michael Martell (13:31.69), May (13:40.33) and Joe Swartz (13:59.11) came in less than 14 minutes, while Theo Bennett took sixth in 14:04.77.