Running Rams Repeat State Championship

Courtesy photo The Red Lodge Boys Cross Country State winners with members of the girls squad and coaches.

 The all class Montana High School Association (MHSA) State Cross Country races were held at the University of Montana Golf Course in Missoula on Saturday Oct. 26. The day was a beautiful day for running with clear skies, calm winds and temperatures in the mid 50’s. As expected, the day was charged with a lot of raw emotion from the athletes, fans and coaches. Athletes gave everything they had, competing with conviction and determinism in their last race of the 2013 Cross Country season. The Red Lodge Running Rams would field two complete Varsity teams. The schedule had Boys Varsity at 2:10 and the Varsity Girls at 3:10. Obviously, these were tough times for our teams. Temperatures would be higher, afternoon races have more wind and of course food management (when and what to eat) all worked their way into the running equation for our athletes. At 2:10 the Varsity Boys stepped into alley four as the returning State Champions, and with 6 of the 7 runners returning, this years race favorite as well. In his address to the boys Coach Zitzer stated, “The goal is a simple one, stay composed, don’t get caught up in the emotion of the event and do what we’ve done all year." This is exactly what the boy’s team did. At the end of 800 meters many kids had been dragged out to an incredibly fast pace, while the Running Rams calmly positioned for a second half surge. At the mile, Junior Logan Beck led the Rams followed closely by Kryn Dykema, Liam Gildehause, Will Haman, Vance Thuesen, Cole Daily and Eric Dye.

The next two miles were very exciting for all of the great Red Lodge fans that made the trip. The lead pack began to slow and the Running Rams began their surge. Logan Beck, an outstanding first year Junior, made a move with the lead pack. The lead pack of consisted of three runners-Tyus Mendoza (Colstrip), Logan Morley (Big Fork) and Beck. Following Beck’s lead, Kryn, Liam and Will all began to move up into the top 15 leaving many runners gasping for air as they passed. In the end, the Boys Team would place four of its five scoring boys in the top 15, earning All State Recognition, with the fifth scoring runner placing 21st. Leading the Rams through the finish line was Logan Beck in 3rd place with a time of 16:26, followed by Kryn Dykema in 9th with a time of 17:03, followed by Will Haman in 12th with a time of 17:10, followed by Liam Gildehaus in 13th with a time of 17:10.48, followed by Vance Thuesen in 21st with a time 17:24, followed by Cole Daily in 30th with a time of 17:46 and rounding a great season Eric Dye came in at 55th in a time of 18:32. The total team score for the Rams was 58 points. With the next closest team being the Manhattan Tigers with a total team score of 73 points, the 2013 Varsity Boys had defended their 2012 State Championship title. This repeat performance puts this group of boys into a very special category in Red Lodge Sports history.

There has only been one other repeat in school history when Doug Brown led the 1961 and 1962 Track and Field teams to two back-to-back State Titles. The most exciting part, the Running Rams return 5 of the 7 Varsity runners to next year’s team. At 3:10 the Varsity Girls stepped into alley four looking to outpace last year’s 5th place team performance and try to bring home a plaque of their own. As predicted, the temperature was at an all day high at the start of the race. With nationally ranked Makena Morley (Big Fork) in the race, the goal for the team was very similar to the boys, stay composed at the start, don’t get caught up in our emotions and reel in the girls who try to go out too fast with Makena. At the end of 800 meters many kids had been dragged out to an incredibly fast pace behind Makena, while the Running Rams calmly positioned for a second half surge. At the mile, Sophomore Tiffany Poore led the Rams followed closely by her sister Addie Poore, Kylie Cope, Vidalia Rubie, Fran Graham, Kezia Jetmore and Molly Kreatz. Again, the strategy played out as expected at the two-mile mark. Both Tiffany and Addie had surged to the lead group of 20 runners, while Vidalia, Kylee and Kezia moved up into the top 50 runners. Tiffany and Addie had a great performance, but just ran out of ground as they worked their way up the ladder towards the top 15 runners and All State Recognition. When they crossed the line, Tiffany was in 17th with a time of 20:50 and Addie took 18th with a time of 20:51, followed by Vidalia in 40th with a time of 22:00, Kylee in 43rd with a time of 22:06, Kezia in 52nd with a time of 22:30, Fran in 72nd with a time of 23:14 and Molly in 94th with a time of 24:23. With a strong team performance the Girls took 4th place out of 20 teams competing. It’s a good performance by our girls. Last year we took 5th place.

In addition, we had been working extremely hard to compete and possibly beat our long time rival Colstrip and we did. Although the girls really wanted a top three finish, we knew one really good team was going to place fourth. This tough competition is evident in the final team scores. Loyola Sacred Heart placed 2nd with 153 points, Plains placed 3rd with 162 points and Red Lodge took 4th with 170 points. We’re really proud of these girls, they put themselves out there representing their community as they competed in a very tough field of teams. For the day, the Running Rams Cross Country program had the best overall team results of any competing Class B school. This assures us as a community of supporters and coaches that we are doing something right. When you meet one of these smiling Running Rams out running in your neighborhood you’ll definitely know we’re on the right track. I would like to thank my family, Tootsie and Tyler; with out your support I couldn’t do it. To the kids, thank you for another great season, I’m lucky to get to run with you. Go Running Rams! For more photos please see page 11.