Austin Gerry and Seth Grant didn’t treat Butte High’s Purple and White race like a scrimmage Friday afternoon.
The Butte High cross country runners gave the race more of a State meet feel as the determined teammates battled to the finish the length of the football field at Naranche Stadium.
As the crowd cheered them on, the two Bulldogs two exchanged positions several times before Gerry, a sophomore, barely beat Grant, a senior, at the finish line. Gerry’s time for the 3-mile race was 18 minutes, 15 seconds. Grant’s was 18:16, though the two were much closer to each other than one second.
“What probably stood out today was Austin Gerry and Seth Grant,” first-year Butte High head coach Guy Wadas said after the race. “Seth, he’s learning how to get tough. If he can learn to get past that hurdle he’ll be really good in his senior year.”
Butte High’s top two runners on the boys’ side surprised nobody.
Senior Nic Raiser finished hard in 17:09, while classmate Shannon Tempel crossed in 18:07.
Sophomore Eric Casagranda placed fifth at 20:10, while senior Gunthar Clark finished in 21:51 and sophomore Lathon Ricketts took seventh in 22:02.
On the girls’ side, junior Cati Carmody led the way, finishing in 22:45. Classmate Joby Rosenleaf, the likely No. 1 runner on the Butte High team, sat out the race because she was battling a migraine.
“She had a great spring in track season and a great summer training. I think she’s ready,” Wadas said of Rosenleaf. “Cati is tough all around. I’m looking to see how the others behind her improve and catch up to her. That’s going to be the key for us is getting those three, four, five girls in a little closer to the front. It’s the same with the boys.”
Sophomore Rosie Real, a newcomer, placed second at 24:24. She was followed by senior Abby Burke in 24:55, sophomore Maya Robins in 25:38, eight grader Ida Real in 24:48, junior Sydney Pendergast in 25:53, and junior Sheridan hafer in 28:18.
Ida Real can’t compete for the Bulldogs until next season, but she’s been training with the high school team throughout the summer.
“We’re right where we should be. We had some pretty dedicated kids this summer,” said Wadas, who coached East Middle School’s team last year. “I’m expecting big improvements over last year, team wise.”
Wada, who is from upstate New York, coached in North Carolina and taught in Las Vegas before moving to Butte before last school year.
He said his team has showed commitment.
“I’m really happy,” Wadas said. “Most of these kids trained for the eight or nine weeks that we got together pretty much five days a week.”
The new coach said he is working to raise the expectations of the Bulldog runners.
“When they came out I told them it’s going to be different. It’s going to be harder. I’m going to expect more,” he said. “Our team motto is going to be ‘Run hard, be strong, think big.’”
The Bulldogs will put that moto to work for real on Sept. 1 when they run in the Butte Central Invitational on the Fairmont Hot Springs golf course. They will face Class AA competition for the first time Sept. 12 in Bozeman.
Purple and White run
1. Nic Raiser 17:09. 2, Shannon Tempel 18:07. 3, Austin Gerry, 18:15, 4, Seth Grant 18:16. 5, Erik Casagranda 20:10. 6, Gunther Clark 21:51. 7, Lathon Ricketts 22:02. 8, Garrett Miller 22:33. 9, Kasey Krzan 22:46. 10, Clint Connors 22:47. 11, Kyle Konda 23:40. 12, Tyler Warner 25:53.
1. Cati Carmody 22:45. 2, Rosie Real 24:25. 3, Abby Burke 24:55. 4, Maya Robins 25:38. 5, Ida Real 24:48. 6, Sydney Pendergast 25:53. 7, Sheridan Hafer 28:18. 8, Haley Mellott 31:31. 9, Jaile Maloughney 31:36. 10, Amber Freebourn 31:57.