Hawks off to a running start


September 9, 2021

Sarah Naegeli

FINISHING FIRST - Aubrey Baxter, a Thompson Falls seventh grader, was first in the junior high race at Eureka.

The Blue Hawk Harriers are literally off to a running start this season with two meets under their feet. The Hawk cross country teams started competition at the Grant Kohrs Ranch Invitational in Deer Lodge on August 26. The trail run took the athletes through the Grant Kohrs National Historic Site. There the Blue Hawk varsity boys finished third, the junior varsity boys finished first and though the girls did not have enough runners to compete as a team, three of the four finished in the top 10.

Will Hyatt led the Blue Hawk boys in third place with a time of 19:13. Freshman Cael Thilmony finished eighth and Levi Myers 10th with times of 20:29 and 21:26, respectively. Alessi Rolando (24:32) and Ben Croft (25:08) rounded out the varsity boys. In the JV boys race, the Hawks snapped the third through sixth spots with JT Taylor (23:01), Will Hawkins (24:13), Briar Palmer (24:58) and Jack Williams (25:01) leading the way. Christian Murdock finished 10th, crossing the finish line in 26:05, and Alek Sweeden finished the race in 27:29.

Sophomore Hattie Neesvig led the Blue Hawk girls in fourth place (24:09), followed by Faith Palmer in fifth (25:03), Mollie Nichols in sixth (25:49) and Roni Hanks in 20th (32:52).

The Blue Hawks didn't take Labor Day weekend off, competing in the Eureka Abayance Bay Triangular last Friday against Libby and Eureka. The girls' race included 11 runners and the Blue Hawks paced well. Faith Palmer finished in second place, crossing the finish line in 24:17, Molly Nichols was fifth in 25:1 and Roni Hanks finished ninth in 30:48.

"Faith and Molly have finished well in the last couple races, and Hattie will return this weekend to make for a great trio of girls, while Roni continues to drop her time," Blue Hawk Cross Country Coach Sarah Naegeli, referring to Neesvig missing the Eureka meet as she was showing her 4-H projects at the Sanders County Fair last weekend.

In the boys race, the varsity boys finished in second place and had a nice showing among the 33 runners. Hyatt again led the Blue Hawks, finishing in third place (18:15), Thilmony was fifth (19:22) and Myers sixth (20:19). Other Hawk runners included Taylor (21:49), Williams (23:17), Hawkins (23:43), Palmer (23:59), Croft (24:27), Ethan Geisbush (25:17), Murdock (26:04), Sweeden (27:51). Rolando was unable to finish the race as he injured his ankle 1.5 miles into the race.

Sarah Naegeli

LEADING the pack at Eureka are (from left) Blue Hawks Alessi Rolando, Cael Thilmony and Will Hyatt.

"We saw lots of improvement in times from last week," Coach Sarah Naegeli said. "We're seeing our runners put in the miles and figure out their pacing and we look forward to a larger meet next week in Kalispell." Naegeli added that several of her runners put in summer miles and is benefitting them as the season gets underway.

The junior high athletes also competed at Eureka, their first race of the season, finishing second as a team. Seventh grader Aubrey Baxter finished first among the junior high ladies, finishing the 1.55-mile course in 10 minutes, 57 seconds. Lexi Franck finished fifth (12:11), Kylee Huff sixth (12:33), Cora Anderson finished in 14:46 and Brooke Flemmer in 17:02.

Evan Lofthus was the only junior high boy to compete for Thompson Falls, finishing in 12:23.


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