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Second to none!

Lady Loco harriers win first State Title in 27 years
By 
Chris Mcconnell
Thursday, October 29, 2020
The Lady Loco cross country team after winning Laurel’s first State title in 27 years and only the second in school history. Photos courtesy Gloria Allwin

The Lady Loco cross country team after winning Laurel’s first State title in 27 years and only the second in school history. Photos courtesy Gloria Allwin

Laurel senior Andria Mourich approaches the finish during the Class A State Cross Country meet on Saturday. Mourich finished runner–up and the Lady Locos won only the 2nd State title in school history.

Laurel senior Andria Mourich approaches the finish during the Class A State Cross Country meet on Saturday. Mourich finished runner–up and the Lady Locos won only the 2nd State title in school history.

Laurel Cross Country Coach James Haskins has an emotional celebration with members of the Lady Locos team after they completed a perfect season and won the Class A State Championship in Kalispell.

Laurel Cross Country Coach James Haskins has an emotional celebration with members of the Lady Locos team after they completed a perfect season and won the Class A State Championship in Kalispell.

As it turned out, one of most difficult parts of the Lady Locos’ 2020 season was getting back home after winning their first Class A State Championship since 1993 and only the second title in school history.

The already–lengthy drive home from Kalispell took the team 25 hours due to the early season storm over the weekend. They made it to Belgrade and were forced to stay in a hotel due to deteriorating road conditions. They arrived home on Saturday to their fire department–led parade in a driving snow storm.

Head Coach James Haskins said the team got lucky with scheduling because Class A ran on Oct. 23 instead of the 24th. (The decision to split the meet into two days was made by the Montana High School Association to comply with state social distancing mandates).

“It was cold, but the snow didn’t start on Friday until after the boys were finished” he said.

In Kalispell, the Lady Locos finished in 2nd (Andria Mourich), 6th (Carly Cook), 11th (Grace Timm), 13th (Lauren Taylor) and 18th (Ruby Smith) individually to earn 50 points to finish 1st ahead of Columbia Falls (70) and Hardin (82). Four of the five girls received All– State honors with Smith missing by only two seconds.

Leading up to the State meet, the Lady Locos had won every event on the year [the Outlook reported they finished second in their first event of the year in Sidney, which they actually won and took five of the top–6 spots], but they knew they had some tough competition out of the Western Division.

“We knew Columbia Falls was the team to beat and they had already run the course this year,” Haskins said.

None of the Lady Locos had seen the course and they watched two videos of it; one of a side–by–side driving it and one of a drone flying it.

“I walked the course in 2016 when State was there and was able to share some additional information to the kids,” Haskins said.

The team said watching the videos didn’t help them too much. Timm said the course looked longer from the ATV and Taylor agreed, saying it was “hard to visualize.”

It was a cold race and Cook said they all gave it their best effort, and not just because it was the State Championship. “We were [literally] racing the storm.”

Every member on the team ran well and each found a little something extra despite the pressure and conditions.

Haskins called Mourich’s 19:53.15 2nd place time a heck of a race. “To run in the 19s in those conditions is a good race,” Haskins said. Taylor’s 20:30.21 beat her personal best time by more than a minute and Smith, 20:36.55, did the same by beating her personal best by 23 seconds. Timm’s 20:28.52 capped off an outstanding high school career and Cook 20:02.56 nearly broke the 20 minute mark. Mikel Shea Greenough had 24:40.00 and Natasha Noel 25:18.58.

Haskins said the place is what was important, not the times. They knew the individual medalist, Brynnli Poulsen of Hamilton (19:02.20), would likely win and Columbia Falls had a top runner that the Locos needed to stay with to claim the title.

Haskins told his team, “Pace yourself. She starts out fast but slows down at the end. Try not to catch her, just stay with her.”

Mourich and Cook stayed with her throughout the race. “Andria stalked her the whole race and put on the gas at the finish to pass her and take 2nd. Carly was only a second behind her,” Haskins said.

Mourich said the strategy worked. “I just stayed with her until the last 300 meters and passed her on the downhill stretch at the finish to move into 2nd.”

Smith, who transferred from Livingston this year was an unexpected gift and a key part of the team. “She was like an angel to us and we wouldn’t have won without her,” Haskins said, and the rest of the team agreed.

The team was confident but not cocky all year. Cook said, “We knew we were capable of winning and trained hard for this.” Taylor said, “We had the opportunity to do this and worked hard at it.” Smith said, “Winning State was the last puzzle piece on the year.”

For the girls, this was the culmination of years of hard work with most of the team running competitively since grade school.

Timm said, “I’m sad my high school cross country career is over but this is the perfect way for it to end.” And, especially to end it running with her fellow senior teammate and friend Mourich, “I met her in the 8th grade,” she said. “We’ve been running together for the past five years,” Mourich added.

Taylor said the team has a family aspect to it and her teammates agreed, “This team is family. We are close to the coaches and close as a team. We’re like superglue.”

After the emotional victory, Haskins said the coach of conference rival Hardin–who had won the last four State tournaments–came up to him to offer congratulations. “She [Cindy Farmer] was in tears, gave me a hug and said she wanted us to win if they didn’t.” Taylor said “The Hardin coach has been one of our biggest supporters.”

Girls

Laurel 50

Columbia Falls 70

Hardin 82

2. Andria Mourich 19:53.15

6. Carly Cook 20:02.56

11. Grace Timm 20:28.52

13. Lauren Taylor 20:30.21

18. Ruby Smith 20:36.55

86. Mikel Shea Greenough 24:40.00

92. Natasha Noel 25:18.58

Boys

1. Hamilton 35

2. Hardin 54

3. Columbia Falls 152

10. Laurel 237

21. Dylan Paris 17:33.41

31. Colton Trostle 17:49.45

50. Anthony Van Ballegooyen 18:28.74

65. Pason Gage 18:57.25

70. Owen Foote 19:05.65

71. Jonah Henry 19:07.63

74. Caleb Trostle 19:16.88

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