By Bill Foley
GREGSON — Joby Rosenleaf was once again running by herself on the Fairmont Hot Springs Golf Course Tuesday evening.
This time, however, she was blowing away varsity competition.
The Butte High senior cross country runner easily won to the girls’ title at a smoky Butte Central Invitational. Rosenleaf finished the 3-mile course in 19 minutes, 32 seconds to top the field of 79 runners. Results
The second-place runner — Helena’s Claudia Downey — was 49 seconds behind.
“I felt pretty good,” said Rosenleaf, a four-year varsity runner for the Bulldogs. “It was a lot nicer than running with the JV.”
Last year, Rosenleaf easily won the junior varsity race at the BC Invite. She wasn’t on the varsity team because an illness forced her to miss the Purple and White run, which served as the team’s varsity qualifier.
So Rosenleaf ran away from the JV competition and posted a time that would have put her in the top 10 in the varsity race. She was on the varsity the rest of the season.
This year’s run looked even more impressive than last year when Rosenleaf won with a time of 22:24. That she is almost three minutes ahead of last years is something Rosenleaf attributed to her longer training regimen.
“I got a lot more mileage this summer than I have been, like about 40 or 50 miles a week,” said Rosenleaf, who recently completed her fifth career half marathon. “It makes the difference.”
Butte Central senior Abby McGee also had a solid evening run, placing 10th overall.
“I’m feeling really good at the beginning of the season,” McGee said after finishing in 21:45.
“She ran very well last week,” BC coach Bob Johnson said. “I am very pleased with this week, especially with her running on Friday. Most of these teams didn’t run last week.”
McGee, the long girl on the BC team, placed fifth at the Park Invitational in Livingston on Friday.
As a team, the Bulldogs placed sixth with 158 points. Polson won with 76, followed by Helena High at 88 and Corvallis at 131.
Senior Cati Carmody placed 27th for the Bulldogs with a time of 23:29.
“The girls are good overall,” said Butte High coach Guy Wadas. “They just battled the whole way. I’m really proud that they stuck with it.”
Rosie Real finished in 23:51 for the Bulldogs, while Katelyn Rapp finished in 24:27. Also for the Bulldogs, Danika Murphy crossed in 25:54, Sheridan Hafer finished in 27:06 and Taylor Huff finished in 27:28.
“I think the whole team looks pretty good right now,” Rosenleaf said. “I think everyone is doing pretty awesome.”
Butte High’s boys didn’t finish as well as they had hoped, placing 10th out of 11 teams with full squads.
Frenchtown won with 51 points. Corvallis followed with 56, and Helena High scored 73.
Helena’s Ian Anderson won the race in 17:08. Frenchtown’s Jaiden Rowe was second at 17:17, followed by Corvallis’ Carson Jessop at 17:18.
“They guys, they battled through, too,” Wadas said, noting that some runners were bothered by smoke and nerves. “I can’t be disappointed. Some of them didn’t finish where I thought they might, but they still fought the whole way through some tough conditions.”
Kyle Konda paced the Bulldogs, placing 32nd with a time of 19:11. Senior Sean Staples, a newcomer to cross country who has had a very strong summer, finished in a disappointing 20:27 after coming down with breathing issues.
Staples was in the top 15 near the midway mark of the race.
Wadas attributed Staples’ slow down to the smoke, which rolled into the area at the end of the junior varsity races.
“Just running around myself I could feel it in my throat a little bit,” the coach said.
Erik Casagranda crossed in 20:31 for Butte High. Bulldogs Brok Martin and Kasey Krzan clocked in with a time of 21:59, Sean Foley finished in in 22:47, and Clint Connors crossed in 24:48.
Wadas said the Bulldogs will chalk the race up as a learning experience heading into their next race, which is Sept. 10 in Bozeman.
“We’ve got plenty of races to work on some stuff that we need to work on,” the coach said.
BC junior Brian McGeehan, who also wasn’t 100 percent Tuesday, finished the race in 19:33. BC’s only other runner, Zach Carlson, ran in 20:15.
“They ran really good,” Johnson said. “Brian wasn’t quite himself, but he ran well. I really think he’ll be in the low 16s by the end of the season.”
The Maroons, by the way, will host the Western A Divisional meet on the same course.
Next up, though, BC will travel to Whitehall for a meet on Saturday.
Overall, Johnson called the meet a success, even if smoke rolled in late to put a damper on the event. “I’m glad we got it in,” Johnson said.
Rosenleaf was glad, too.
“It was a fun race,” she said.