(Beth, Caroline, Sarah, Andie, Bridget, Aja and Piper)
When Andie Creel of Bozeman, Caroline Hardin of Three Forks and Aja Starkey of Polson joined forces in Reno, Nevada in 2009 at the USATF Championships little did they know that 4 years later all three would be attending Bozeman High. In 2010 both Andie and Caroline were part of the first team from Bozeman to participate in the Cross Country National Championship sponsored by Nike. Together with Heidi Turner, Katie Keith, Michelle Kline, Katie Stephens and fellow freshman Brigid Bradshaw they took 11th overall. For the next two years the team worked hard by steadily increasing mileage, but illness and injuries placed them 3rd and 8th in the region when only the top two teams from each region are guaranteed a spot. At the same time Aja was trying to continue running in Polson and injuries caused her to switch to nordic skiing. Eventually she transferred to Bozeman to join the vigorous BSF program. After a successful nordic season in 2012/13 Aja decided to give running one more shot and joined the team for their summer running program. Strong juniors Bridget Creel, and Beth Jansma rounded out the top five and the team looked stronger than ever. The addition of freshman Piper Meuwissen added additional depth to a team with seemingly unfathomable JV depth. Newcomer Sara Foster looking promising in the team time trial, but knee troubles held her back at the beginning of the season. Once the season got going the team was a on a roll with a new top runner on a weekly basis and a totally unpredictable order for the top seven. At Mountain West the team ran the best team average ever in Montana and then at 7v7 they lowered that to 18:05 per runner. At state a record 6 girls made All State and the team had the lowest score ever for AA girls. An untimely illness for Maddie Powers left her off the Regional roster, but Sarah Foster was back to form and put up a great race. Finally at Regionals in Boise, Idaho a goal that so many had worked towards was accomplished. The team placed first over Bellarmine Prep. After working so hard towards this goal for four years there were a lot of happy tears.
The race is being broadcast online this weekend starting on Saturday at 10:30 Mountain time. The girls race at 11:05 Mountain time. Look for details at http://www.runnerspace.com/nxn
Lone Montana Representative Steve Daines wished the team good luck this morning from DC.