Steadman earns all-state at state A cross country

M.P. Regan
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
Steady on

Dillon’s Ben Steadman, shown here running at the Beavers’ home meet in September, gained all-state honors at the state meet on Friday in Kalispell. M.P. Regan photo

The Beaverhead County High School cross country teams last weekend crossed the finish line of their twisting, turning 2020 campaign.

And the young Beavers did so in what has become their usual fashion in this most unusual of seasons—by continuing to stride steadily to good results and a better future, while placing their most consistent performer on the all-state squad again.

Dillon’s Ben Steadman gained a spot on the all-state squad by finishing eighth in the Boys Class A race on Friday at the Montana All-Class State Cross Country Meet at Rebecca Farm in Kalispell. It’s an honor you could see the dedicated Steadman heading toward all season—or even before the season started.

“Ben worked out all this summer, so you could see the potential building in him,” said BCHS Head Coach Betty Iverson of the sophomore’s steadfast approach that also powered Steadman’s run to all-state honors in 2019, when he became the first freshman Beaver boy in history to make all-state in cross country.

“I just like working out and getting into shape,” explained Steadman, who also plays basketball and runs track for BCHS.

“I am not where I want to be, but I’m getting there,” said Steadman after his standout performance in September at the BCHS Invite meet, where he finished third behind only Hamilton’s Colter Purcell and Colter Kirkland, who also placed 1-2 at last weekend’s state meet in Kalispell to propel the Broncs to this year’s State A boys team title.

“I usually just try to find a dirt road and run down it to train,” said Steadman of his training routine.

A quiet team leader, according to his coach, Steadman led the BCHS boys by example, propelling the young Beaver boys beyond expectations to an 11th place team finish at the state meet, despite the Beaver boys lack of a single senior.

“I thought they did extremely well,” said Iverson of her Dillon boy runners who competed at state—Steadman, Daniel Martin, Joel Harvey, Jacob Harvey, Henry Hawes, Brock Hansen and Andy Egan.

“Daniel Martin got a personal best by almost 30 seconds. That was fantastic for him,” said Iverson of Martin’s performance in Kalispell, where Steadman, Jacob Harvey, Hawes, Egan and Hansen also notched personal bests at 5000 meters.

“They peaked at the right moment,” said Iverson of her boy runners.

”They have been solid and pretty consistent all season. They all get along and have meshed really well, I think that really helped,” said Iverson, who tried to further help the Beavers cause at state by holding her runners out of the divisional meet the previous weekend to give them time to rest and limit their exposure to the coronavirus that, along with injuries and numerous meet cancellations and reschedulings, made a mockery of the “regular” in their 2020 regular season.

The Dillon girls suffered through even greater disruptions that unsettled their plans right to the end of their starcrossed 2020 season, with their top runner out for the second half of the season and two of their other top competitors forced at the last minute to forego the trip to Kalispell due to health concerns.

Kelle Mosher paced the local girls efforts at the state meet, finishing 28th in Kalispell, where BCHS freshman Hailey Powell also ran into the Top 40, while Eden Kinberg and Emma Mitchell got into the Top 100, and the Beavs also gained contributions from Danielle Smith and Laura Martin—who went from alternate to competitor with the last-minute roster changes.

Laurel earned the girls teams laurels in Kalispell, where Hamilton’s Brynnli Poulsen finished first among Girls A competitors.

“We had four juniors and a sophomore running, so we’ll have a good core returning for next season,” said Iverson, who will also be gaining some promising new female freshman next season, when her entire boys state contingent will be eligible to compete again.

“I hope they didn’t get too disappointed by all they had to deal with and all the things they missed out on this season,” said Iverson of a vexing 2020 campaign that denied runners the chance to practice normally and to socialize with competitors from other schools before and after races due to pandemic restrictions, and which cropped such traditions as the pre-race costume walkabout at the state meet.

“They did not get to see all the extra fun stuff,” said Iverson, whose team did miss out on one final unwanted challenge in 2020—the nasty weather front that rolled into Kalispell late Friday just as the Beavs were rolling out of town to head back to Dillon.

“We were really lucky to be in the first two races on Friday,” said Iverson of the Beavs benefitting from the pandemic-inspired reformatting of this year’s state meet, which got stretched from a one-day event to two days, Friday and Saturday, with Class A runners competing on Friday.

“It was cold on Friday up there, but there was no wind and just a little snow on the ground. The snowstorm didn’t start until the boys finished, and it got bad as we drove home,” said Iverson.

“I can’t imagine what it was like for the Class AA and Class C kids out there on Saturday,” said Iverson, who is certain her Beavs would have, if necessary, persevered through the snow, wind and chill—taking on the final challenge as steadfastly as they had all the others that hit them this season.

“It was just one thing after another, but our kids are so resilient” said Iverson of the gauntlet of challenges her program ran through this season.

“I told them, ten years from now, you will look back at this and say you were part of this, that you found a way to make it through.”