Sitting Down With Hellgate’s Varsity Cross Country Team

Liam Queneau, Reporter

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     Hellgate’s Cross Country team has been on something of a winning streak in the few years. The girls varsity team has placed first or second for the past three years in the state meet, and the boys have taken second for the past two years, as well. Now, coming off of second place wins against the ever-present Bozeman cross country team, Abby Kendrick, Sage Brooks, Ignatius FitzGerald, and Lukas Horejsi sat down with me and talked about their season, how they’re feeling now, and what they expect at Nike Cross Country Regionals.

 

LQ: How do you feel about the team’s performance at the state?

 

Abby: For the girls team, going into state, we definitely knew that we weren’t gonna win, and we were pretty set on getting second. We knew that Helena would try to be chasing us down, but we were pretty solid at second. We didn’t really have too much pressure going into it, we know Bozeman is a nationally ranked team, and definitely has a good chance of going to Nationals. Our team is just working on building up and hopefully trying to beat them next year.

Lukas: The boys all went in thinking that we could beat Bozeman, and super stoked that we put a season together where we had five or seven guys that could challenge them. The outcome of that after not winning state and losing after a tiebreaker was a bummer. the whole weekend for me, I was bummed out about that, but I think we handled it well, and none of us quit, so that’s good (laughs). No one was thinking of quitting, though.

 

LQ: Do you participate in any sports other than cross country and track?

 

Sage: I (downhill) ski.

Abby: No, I just run.

Lukas: I skate ski.

 

LQ: What are your goals for NXR (Nike Cross Country Regionals)?

 

Abby: Sage and I are definitely looking to be some of the top girls at NXR, and we’re hoping to maybe make Nationals, that’s our biggest goal, but it’s gonna be hard to achieve. There are a lot of other good girls in our region right now, especially individuals that will be pulled out, since their teams won’t make it but they will.

Sage: For me, I got injured backcountry skiing, so that was a pretty big setback. I want to place really well, but I also want to get back to where I was before I injured myself.

Lukas: I don’t want to speak for Ian (Curtis), but he’s our number one runner, and maybe he’s looking for an individual bid. For the rest of us I think we’re focusing on getting a team bid, and placing second or third, if we’re lucky, and qualifying for Nationals as a team, that’s the way I see it going. Of course, it’s going to be difficult, but after tying with Bozeman, if we look at it as if we’re as good as Bozeman, as if on a better day we could beat Bozeman, we can go into the race picturing ourselves as a top two team.

 

LQ: So you think Nationals is achievable?

 

Lukas: I think Nationals could be achievable, but we’d also have to have all of our boys PR (Personal Record) by fifteen seconds, which I think we can do, but all on the same day might be a little challenging.

 

LQ: I know Lukas is a senior, but Iggy, Abby, and Sage are all going to be running next year. How do you guys think incoming sophomores and freshmen will impact the team?

 

Abby: We’re gonna have some good freshmen. There’s two girls that we’re looking forward to, we’re excited about them because they’re working really hard, and they came to summer running. They’re only in eighth grade right now, but they’ll be with us next year.

Sage: I think that the girls who are freshmen and sophomores this year will get better, too, with more experience and more running in groups.

Abby: They’ll definitely fill in our gaps.

Ignatius: There’s a lot of freshman boys who put in the work and put in the miles this summer, there’s a lot of potential. They’re a close group of guys who just seem to love doing it together, which is kinda what I see in this group of senior boys. I think they’ve got a lot of potential, and I’m really excited to see what they do in two or three years. We’ve got Finn Colescott on the state team, who had never run before, but put in the miles this summer, put in the work over the season, and turned out to be really good. There’s Ari (Samuels) who’s doing the same thing, along with Jackson (Tripeke) and Colten (Graham), and I’m excited to see what they’re gonna do in the track season, too. 

Lukas: I’ll be in college next year, but I’ll still be looking to see how the team is doing, because when I was a freshman, we had a big class, and now we’re all graduating. So it’ll be a different team, with new leaders coming up, like Iggy, or I guess he’s already here (laughs). I think it’s gonna be a really good team for years to come.

 

LQ: Bozeman High School is breaking up into two separate high schools after the school year, so how do you think that this will affect the upcoming seasons?

 

Lukas: They’re gonna have twice as many schools, so twice as much competition, so I’m really scared for the future kids (laugh).

Ignatius: In regards to Bozeman, Juniors get to decide which school they want to attend and seniors have to stay, so they’re still gonna be a powerhouse. The team’s still gonna be good, as I’m assuming they’re all going to be staying at Bozeman, assuming that’s where KC (the Bozeman coach) stays, since he’s a phenomenal coach. Regardless of what happens, they’ll still be a very competitive team for years to come.

Abby: The two top girls are seniors, so they’ll be gone next year. They have a freshman and sophomore that were on the varsity team, but we know that they’ll be split into different schools, but i still think they’ll be pretty strong.

Sage: I think they’ll be strong, but with them being split up and with us having more experience, younger girls, and the two eighth graders, it’ll give us a much better chance.

Abby: I think for us, with Hellgate and Sentinel, Sentinel still has really good individuals, too, but we have the stronger team.

 

LQ: Do you guys have any goals that you want to set for next season, in regard to how you think this season will end?

 

Abby: We have some younger girls coming in next year, and we also have our sophomores like Iris (Swanberg) and Izzy (Monroe) who will still be with us and all of those girls. I feel like we’re going to come back even stronger next year because we’re going to fill in all the gaps with all the girls coming in, and we’ll have a better chance of competing with Bozeman next year and taking back our state title.

Lukas: I think I’m not going to be on the team, but our boys next year should be looking to win state. Going into the season, it looked like we were going to have a big graduating class, but then at the state meet, three of our five scoring boys were underclassmen.

Abby: And that’s better than us last year, we only had two state runners come back.

Lukas: I think that both Miles (Colescott) and Renn (Stearns) are on huge upswings, and I think that Iggy is going to be the fastest underclassman in the state going into the track season. I don’t see any reason why Colten, Finn, Jackson, or any of the other boys can’t step up and make a solid five or seven runners.

Ignatius: I’m excited for next year. Looking forward, I’m definitely excited, we’ve got a lot of great younger guys coming up, but it’s also going to be a very young team. It’s going to be fun, but I’m really trying to set those boys up for success in the next two or three years. I think that the year after I graduate, we’re going to have the strongest boys team Hellgate has ever seen. It’s a young, committed, fast group of guys, and I don’t see why people like Finn Colescott, who’s maybe the fastest freshman in the state, can’t lead the team to a state championship or two. I’m really excited to run with them and help lead them to as much success as possible.