Maroon runners open season in Livingston

Butte Central cross country coach Bob Johnson said he expects his Butte Central boys’ team to be competitors this season.

Friday in Livingston, the Maroons will get a chance to show why their coach feels that way.

The Maroons will open the season at a meet in Livingston. The junior varsity races begin at 10 a.m., with the varsity races starting at 11.

“I’m pretty pleased with how they’ve done this the last couple of weeks,” Johnson said Thursday. “With this team, we’re going to be respectable.”

Johnson’s team includes six boys and one girl. This year will mark the third straight that the BC boys have enough runners to score at a meet. That comes after a run of many years in which the Maroons never showed up in team standings.

Senior Conor McGee is the unquestioned leader of the Maroons. As a junior, McGee ran to 18th place at the Class A state meet with a time of 16 minutes, 41 seconds. Johnson said his top runner is at tip-top form entering the season.

“I’m expecting a lot from Conor because he is in tremendous shape,” Johnson said. “He’s running really well right now. He’s in a really good spot.”

The Maroons lost Shannon Tempel from last year’s team. He transferred to Butte High in the middle of last school year.

BC, however, returns senior Clay Stillwagon and sophomore Ian Campbell. Unlike last year at this team, Stillwagon enters the season healthy, Johnson said.

“He didn’t get much training in the summer, but he’s getting into shape,” Johnson said of Stillwagon, who is also one of the top wrestlers in the state. “He’s not hurting, and that’s a big thing.”

Stillwagon broke 20 minutes at state last fall, while Campbell just missed doing the same.

The BC team is rounded out in three promising freshmen Brian McGeehan, Theron Nelson and Nathan Ortega. Nelson, however, won’t run Friday because he doesn’t have enough practices under his belt.

The lone girl runner for BC is sophomore Abby McGee. She had a strong showing at state last year, finishing in 21:44 for 50th place.

The Maroons will not have sophomore Rachael McGree, who had a strong freshman campaign. She will likely sit out the season while she recovers from an injury.

BC will host the Butte Central Invitational Tuesday at Fairmont Hot Springs. The team will then have six more meets to get ready for the Oct. 18 Southwestern A Divisional meet in Dillon.

Johnson expects his runners will be ready because they are already showing signs of heading in that direction.

“They’re all really coming around,” the coach said. “I’m pretty pleased with how they’ve come along these last couple of weeks.”

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