Kats break through for first state title

·10 min read

Oct. 24—MISSOULA — Saturday was a perfect day to run at the Montana State Cross Country Championships, unless it wasn't.

For Columbia Falls girls it was a dream setting: Hannah Sempf won the Class A individual crown, then rejoiced with her teammates when it became clear — when Corvallis was called up to get its second-place trophy — that the Wildkats had claimed their first state title.

For the defending AA champion Missoula Sentinel boys there was disappointment; it was the same for Glacier's Sam Ells, a favorite for the individual crown.

Missoula Helllgate's boys did celebrate, surpassing Sentinel by four points; their exaltation upon hearing the Spartans placed second was matched by Sempf and Co.

Columbia Falls, coming off its best-ever finish in 2020, second, leveled up.

State A

"Last year we gave it our all," said Sempf, a senior who overtook Browning's Kiara Iron Heart on the final stretch to win in 20 minutes, 3.4 seconds. "This year we gave it our all and got a better trophy."

Columbia Falls scored 92 points, and Corvallis had 99. Hardin, a pre-meet favorite, was third at 107.

The Wildkats had solid performances from Courtney Hoerner and Julie Martin while Siri Erickson, another race favorite, finished out of the All-State Top 15.

"I wasn't sure she was going to make it," Columbia Falls coach Jim Peacock said of Erickson, who ended up 20th. "She buries herself to a spot I've seen few runners get to, and she does it week after week."

Sempf was third individually a year ago, in the snow at Rebecca Farm. Saturday she hung with a pack that included Iron Heart, who finished in 20:07.1, and Hardin's Ellyse Moccasin and Mariah Aragon.

"She was smart, she was confident, she realized the pace of the race early and didn't feel like she had to front-run it," Peacock said. "You don't have to lead a race start to finish, you just have to run it smarter than other people."

Browning coach Roy McNabb, meanwhile, thought he had a champion with roughly a quarter-mile left.

"Coming off the hill she was third," he said of Iron Heart. "The last mile she was in the lead and she didn't let it go until like the last 20 meters."

Sempf surged ahead.

"I had to find a lot of confidence in that last half-mile," she said. "I knew there was definitely a lot of tough competition. I think anybody in the top five could have won the state championship. You really had to believe in yourself, and give it your all."

"You're running for position and she ran a position race," Peacock said. "She ran confident, maintained contact with the people in front of her and trusted herself. She has a kick and with 200 meters left I felt really good about where she was, even though she was in second place."

Whitefish had an All-State runner in Paetra Cooke, who took 14th.

On the boys side Hamilton repeated, getting a 2-4-5-8 finish behind Corvallis standout Brinson Wyche, who won in 16:25.98.

Hamilton had 38 points, Hardin 83 and Corvallis took third with 87. Whitefish was next at 131, getting All-State performances from Mason Genovese (sixth) and Jacob Henson (13th).

"I thought I ran the best race of my career," Genovese said.

Columbia Falls' James Petersen took 11th to earn All-State honors.

State AA

Tanner Klumph was too good for Sentinel, winning in 15:56.21 on what should have been, after a night of rain, a slow track. Finneas Colescott led a 2-5-14 finish by Hellgate and the Knights nailed down their first boys title since 2007.

Ells, who had such a strong senior season, was staying with Klumph until late. He didn't finish.

"He looked great coming down the hill through the two-mile mark," Glacier coach Cody Moore said. "That was the last time we saw him until we found him about a half-mile from the finish."

The senior was on the ground; he was checked out by trainers and EMTs, who found nothing wrong.

"I'm at a loss for what we could have done differently," said Moore, who shares Ells' talents with the Glacier soccer squad, which played later Saturday. "He's in great shape. It wasn't a fitness issue.

"My heart just kind of breaks for Sam. Not the way we wanted to end the season, but that's the way it goes sometimes. Not every day is your day."

Having a better one was Flathead's Lilli Rumsey Eash, who finished fourth in a talented AA girls' field. Hellgate's Kensey May repeated as individual champion, finishing in 18:16.14; 2019 champion Kylie Hartnett of Helena was second. At 18:25.65.

Rumsey Eash came in at 18:31.65, her best time by 27 seconds.

"There wouldn't be a lot of PRs on that course today," Flathead coach Jesse Rumsey, Lilli's mom, said. "She's very happy.

"Madelaine Jellison snuck into 14th, which is a really big breakthrough for her. I knew she was capable of doing that, and she really showed up today." Flathead finished sixth in the girls' team race. Bozeman won the team title, its third straight and 14th in 15 years.

Flathead's Gabriel Felton was the top Kalispell finisher, taking 17th. Glacier's top finisher was Eric Firestone, a newcomer to the sport. He took 27th.

State Cross Country Meet

Saturday

University of Montana Golf Course

AA GIRLS

Team scores — 1, Bozeman 53; 2, Missoula Hellgate 68; 3, Gallatin 95; 4, Helena 106; 5, Billings West 114; 6, Flathead 155; 7, Helena Capital 177; 8, Billings Skyview 195; 9, Great Falls CMR 223; 10, Missoula Sentinel 245; 11, Belgrade 341; 12, Glacier 347; 13, Great RFalls 363; 14, Butte 407; 15, Billings Senior 415; 16, Missoula Big Sky 424.

Individual Top 15

1, Kensey May, Hgt, 18:16.14; 2, Kylie Hartnett, Hel, 18:25.65; 3, Hayley Burns, Boz, 18:30.59; 4, Lilli Rumsey Eash, Flathead, 18:31.65; 5, Ali Keith, BW, 19:13.52; 6, Natalie Nicholas, Boz, 19:26.81; 7, Alexis Holton, Gal, 19:45.85; 8, Odessa Zentz, Hel, 19:52.6; 9, Lucia McCormick, Boz, 19:54.68; 10, Malia Bradford, Snt, 19:56.99; 11, Lilyann MacFarlane, Gal, 19:56.99; 12, Taylee Chirrick, BW, 20:08.56; 13, Izzy Munro, Hgt, 20:11.60; 14, Madelaine Jellison, Flathead, 20:12.26; 15, Serena Sproles, Boz, 20:14.82.

FLATHEAD —4, Lilly Rumsey Eash; 14, Madelaine Jellison; 26, Josie Wilson 20:40.15; 48, Afton Wride 21:15.32; 63, Bailey Wride 21:54.89.

GLACIER — 47, Isabella Lane 21:14.83; 59, Anna Tretter 21:45.87; 67, Bailey Grable 22:02.93; 80, Holly Skelton, 22:26.75; 94, Beth Sorenson 23:53.62.

AA BOYS

Team scores — 1, Hellgate 62, 2, Sentinel 66; 3, Great Falls High 91; 4, Bozeman 96; 5, Billings West 134; 6, Gallatin 157; 7, Helena Capital 191; 8, Flathead 197; 9, Belgrade 237; 10, Billings Senior 322; 11, Billings Skyview 326; 12, Missoula Big Sky 340; 13, Helena 348; 14, Glacier 358; 15, Butte 383; 16, Great Falls CMR 405.

Individual Top 15

1, Tanner Klumph, Snt, 15:56.21; 2, Finneas Colescott, Hgt, 16:07.09; 3, Carson Steckelberg, Gal, 16:17.34; 4, Ryan Harrington, GFH, 16:22.93; 5, Jackson Triepke, Hgt, 16:26.35; 6, Gavin Budge, Skyview, 16:27.73; 7, Chase Green, Snt, 16:27.76; 8, Keagen Crospby, Snt, 16:29.29; 9, Macgyver Palmer, GFH, 16:30.94; 10, Samuel Nash, Bel, 16:34.36; 11, KJ Popiel, Boz, 16:36.94; 12, Joe Johns, Boz, 16:41.20; 13, Jaxon Straus, BW, 16:42.00; 14,Colten Graham, Hgt, 16:42.34; 15, Connor Neil, Boz, 16:44.61.

FLATHEAD — 17, Gabriel Felton 16:51.84; 37, Bauer Hollman 17:30.70; 38, Reilly Johnson 17:32.55; 51, Kesler Hughes 17:54.36; 54, Caden Masa 17:56.77.

GLACIER — 27, Eric Firestone 17:10.79; 59, Jeff Lillard 18:04.35; 77, MacGregor Adkins 18:35.04; 4, Connor Byle 19:04.16; 5, Noah McKoy 19:39.61.

A GIRLS

Team scores — 1, Columbia Falls 92; 2, Corvallis 99; 3, Hardin 107; 4, Laurel 146; 5, Hamilton 175; 6, Whitefish 178; 7, Miles City 183; 8, Dillon 183; 9, Lewistown 196; 10, Polson 221; 11, Livingston 312; 12, Havre 313; 13, Browning 369; 14, Frenchtown 435; 15, Glendive 441.

Individual Top 15

1, Hannah Sempf, CF, 20:03.40; 2, Kiara Iron Heart, Brw, 20:07.10; 3, Mariah Aragon, Har, 20:18.65; 4, Ellyse Moccasin, Har, 20:18.71; 5, Ryleigh Kleinke, Sid, 20:27.23; 6, Amara Auch, Cor, 20:28.93; 7, Kinga Kari, Ham, 13:28.05; 8, Laurie Davidson, Cor, 20:30.13; 9, Lauren Taylor, Lau, 20:3777; 10, Ashtyn Wagner, Pol, 20:39.80; 11, Mikelle Mosher, Dil, 20:4240; 12, Halle Heinger, Pol, 20:44.09; 13, Paetra Cooke, Wfh, 20:45.21; 14, Faye Holland, Dil, 20:47.15; 15, Olivia Heiner, Ron, 21:09.66.

COLUMBIA FALLS — 1, Hannah Sempf; 18, Courtney Hoerner 21:25.23; 20, Siri Erickson 21:25.89; 21, Julia Martin 21:31.03; 32 Marissa Schaeffer 22:07.94.

WHITEFISH — 13, Paetra Cook; 29, Morgan Grube 21:58.06; 39, Hazel Gawe 22:36.64; 48, Alie Simpson 23:02.21; 49, Maggie Pulsifer 23:05.51.

POLSON — 10, Ashtyn Wagner; 12, Heninger; 61, Maddilyn Huffine 23:40.40; 67, Isabel Seely 23:58.89; 71, Katelyn Smith 24:15.01.

BROWNING — 2, Kaira Iron Heart; 79 Mecca Bull Child 24:35.46; 80, Jadie Butterfly 24:39.31; 91, Shaylee Brown 25:18.93; 117, Amari Calfrobe 27:40.05.

LIBBY — 83, Aurora Smith, 24:47.75; 109, Jossalyn White 26:32.27; 112, Taryn Greene 26:55.98; 113, Annika Benner, 26:56.19.

RONAN — 15, Olivia Heiner 21:09.66; 95, Brogen Youngren 25:43.75; 96, Saellah Hugs, 25:43.90; 110 Nichole Koehler 26:32.44.

A BOYS

Team scores — 1, Hamilton 38; 2, Hardin 83; 3, Corvallis 87; 4, Whitefish 131; 5, Columbia Falls 148; 6, Laurel 149; 7, Dillon 228; 8, Polson 228; 9, Browning 363; 10, Livingston 271; 11, Miles City 326; 12, Libby 335; 13, Havre 354; 14, Glendive 354; 15, Billings Central 416; 16, Ronan 461; 17, Lewistown 481; 18, Lockwood 516; 19, Sidney 573; 20, Stevensville 580.

Individual Top 15

1, Brinson Wyche, Cor, 16:25.98; 2, Colter Purcell, Ham, 16:34.18; 3, Ben Steadman, Dil, 16:35.46; 4, Lane Cole, Ham, 16:47.04; 5, Colter Kirtland, Ham, 16:53.46; 6, Mason Genovese, Wfh, 16:57.42; 7, Bryson Rogers, Har, 17:04.11; 8, Tanner Nead, Ham, 17:09.91; 9, Charlie Serafin, Liv, 17:16.11; 10, Alduran Takes Enemy, Har, 17:16.74; 11, James Petersen, CF, 17:21.19; 12, Andrew Durgan, Liv, 11:19.30; 13, Jacob Henson, Wfh, 17:25.28; 14, Tayjon Joe, Har, 17:25.81; 15, Clay Truth, Cor, 17:28.74.

WHITEFISH — 6, Genovese; 13, Henson; 30, Barrett Garcia 18:08.20; 36, Landon Brown 18:21.69; 46, Ruedi Steiner 18:40.73.

COLUMBIA FALLS — 11, Peterson; 21, Logan Peterson 18:00.65; 35, Quinn Clark 18:20.49; 40, Jack Phelps 18:26.73; 41, Jonathan Blankeship 18:31.60.

POLSON — 16, Drifter Skillicorn, 17:32.64; 38, Noah Roberts, 18:23.96; 52,Ryan Dupuis, 18:52.99; 56, Kai McDonald 19:02.51; 66, Brandt Heninger, 19:33.76.

BROWNING — 17, Jeremy Bockus, 17:38.70; 29, Preston Iron Heart 18:07.28; 50, Jerdan Crawford 18:50.66; 79, Jesse Cain 19:57.02; 88, Jonathan After Buffalo 20:10.44.

LIBBY — 47, Greysen Thompson 18:43.96; 59, Rowen Sherbo 19:19.53; 68, Wyatt Gregg 19:36.36; 69, Lucky Martin 19:38.83; 92, Dawson Rose 20:20.75.

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