Beavs overcome rodeo challenges into cross country race

By 
M.P. Regan
Wednesday, October 6, 2021

The Beaverhead County High School boys and girls cross country teams competed well at a meet presenting a sort of rodeo version of a steeplechase race last weekend at the Polson Fairgrounds.

“It’s a unique meet,” said BCHS Head Coach of the Mission Shadow Duels, which offered an eccentric format and challenges its runners had likely never encountered—at least in a cross country meet.

“The course started by having them run across the rodeo grounds, and by the grandstand,” said Iverson.

“The kids end up having to run through cattle shoots. And they also had hay bales to jump over,” recounted Iverson of obstacles along the course competitors traversed last Saturday. “That’s true cross country.”

BCHS’s truest cross country competitor and no. 1 boys runner Ben Steadman finished first among all boys at the 5000m race that sent had him start in the final group with fellow no. 1s from other schools.

“During the first mile, Ben was in position no. 38, and I am sure he passed a ton of people in that first mile,” said Iverson of a race formatted to send no. 7 runners off first, followed by no. 6s, etc. until the no. 1s take off, forcing the top runners them to confront the unusual task of coming from behind.

“Ben ended up passing everybody and with a really good time of 16:40. He had a different sort of determined look on his face because he wasn’t used to having that many people ahead of him,” said Iverson of the grit Steadman displayed in a race that did not discount his time to compensate for his starting long after the first runners in it took off—with places determined only by the spot in which you cross the finish line.

Steadman’s BCHS teammate Daniel Martin took 13th, while Beav sophomore Jacob Harvey outdid himself yet again with his effort.

“Jacob Harvey continues to get personal bests. This was his fourth one in a row,” noted Iverson of Harvey, who finished the course in 20:09.

“And Joel Harvey ran really well,” said Iverson of Jacob’s senior sibling. “He hasn’t quite topped his personal best yet this year, but he ran a really good race. We ran him as our no. 3 and he didn’t let many pass him,” stated Iverson of an effort that helped the Class A Beaver boys finish fifth as a team at the meet featuring runners from Class AA schools.

Aided by its 2021 stalwarts Hailey Powell (eighth place) and Faye Holland (19th), the BCHS girls did the Beaver boys two better by taking the bronze as a team.

“We are excited about seeing our girls get third place. Columbia Falls finished just in front of us. But we were ahead of Frenchtown and Polson and Browning and Ronan, and they are all in our division,” said Iverson, whose girls achieved that high team showing despite running without one of their top racers, Samantha Anderson, who sat out strategically, along with Beaver boy Henry Hawes, to gain some rest in the midst of the grueling season headed for its stretch run.

“But you have to take that with a grain of salt, because other teams might have held out some of their runners as well,” conceded Iverson, who got an important contribution from one of her former standouts last weekend.

“Kelle Mosher, this was only her third race this season, so we were really excited with her finishing just outside the top 10, in 12th place,” said Iverson of the former All-State selection who’s had to battle through injuries in 2021.

“We are really happy to see her back in the mix.” Emma Mitchell continues to speed further into the mix for BCHS.

“Emma Mitchell ran quite well, her best this year,” said Iverson of the senior. “She’s doing well,” added Iverson, who also saw an in creasingly promising sophomore continue to push himself into the boys mix.

“Sean Regan is our consistent JV runner. He ran this race last year and topped his time this year from last year by around three minutes,” noted Iverson of the up-and-coming underclassman.

“By the time he’s a senior I think he will be up there among the best in the conference.”

Coming next for the Beavers, a trip to Helena to participate in the annual Capital City 7 on 7 that will actually be more of a 9 of 9 this year.

“Then you’ve got guys and girls running in the same races. And some girls beat some guys. That can definitely give them an extra kind of motivation. So, something a little different again,” said Iverson of another wrinkle in meet format, a cousin of the refreshingly eccentric one her runners faced and enjoyed last week in Polson.

“It’s good at this point of the season for the kids to see you can have some fun and still be competitive.”

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