13 Dec 2021 | 09:43 | Cross Country
The Griz men’s cross country team didn’t have the overall winner on Friday afternoon at the Montana Open at the UM Golf Course in Missoula, but the squad used its depth to run away with the team title.
Even with their top runner, Joel Mendez, sitting this one out, the Grizzlies put four in the top nine and seven in the top 15 to out-point their non-Division I opponents.
Montana State sent two runners to race, and Cooper West and Owen Smith finished first and third overall. Rocky Mountain’s Jackson Wilson and MSU Billings’ Ase Ackerman finished second and fourth.
The next minute had seven Grizzlies crossing the line, led by freshman Jordan Hansen, who averaged a 4:49 pace to cover the seven-kilometer course in a time of 20:56.
Hansen was running in the top three through the first part of the race before drifting back to fifth at the finish.
“There were two guys ahead of me and I just tried to stick with them as long as I could. The last mile kind of got away from me,” Hansen said.
Hansen was followed by Truman Cowan in sixth, Maxwell Scott in eighth and Will Dauenhauer in ninth.
“I felt good about it,” said coach Clint May, who has a freshman in Hansen who has now placed second for the Grizzlies at Montana State on Saturday and first on Friday.
“I wouldn’t have been able to see anything four weeks ago or four months ago that would have told me he’d be right up among the top few guys today,” said May.
“But he was also really strong coming out of high school, so I figured he had the talent to be one of our top five or even top seven. He looks really strong right now.”
Montana led the way with 30 points. The Grizzlies were followed by Carroll (76), MSU Billings (77), Rocky Mountain (103), Montana Tech (115) and MSU Northern (118).
In addition to Montana State, Montana Western, Providence and Yellowstone Christian also had runners in the men’s field.
Even without its top five finishers from its home meet on Saturday, Montana State still won the women’s race handily, totaling 41 points.
Montana Tech (72), Carroll (86), Montana (99) and Rocky Mountain (111) rounded out the top five.
The Grizzlies would have finished higher had Beatrix Frissell, who finished third overall, not been racing unattached.
Bridget Boyle led Montana with a 16th-place finish. She was followed by Kayla Ingraham in 17th, Leah Gath in 22nd, Molly Sherman in 24th and McKinlee Mihelish in 25th.
All their times were markedly faster than they were on Saturday on a course that measured the same three miles as MSU’s course.
“So much improvement off last week, so much better than last week was. They engaged and were fighting today more than they were last week,” said May.
“We still have some girls going, gosh, I wish I was faster, and I’m happy they want to be faster, because we want to get them faster. The results today were a lot better.”
Becca Richtman, who began her career at Division II Winona State before transferring to Montana Tech, ran away from the field and broke 17 minutes, finishing in 16:49.
She was followed by Carroll’s Reghan Worley, who ran a 17:13, and Frissell, who clocked a 17:24.
Montana won’t race again until splitting its squads between the Yellowjacket Open in Billings on Oct. 8 and the UC Riverside Highlander Invitational on Oct. 16.
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