That’s how long it had been since the Capital High girls last won a crosstown cross country meet against Helena High.
But then on a cold, blustery Wednesday at Bill Roberts Golf Course, the Bruin ladies put an end to Helena’s 10-meet winning streak – from 2007-2016 – with a resounding 17-45 victory at the 45th annual intra-city meet.
CHS’ win was spearheaded by individual champion Alana Tonidandle, who traversed the 5K course in 20:21, and led a team sweep of the top three places. Capital placed seven in the top nine, all of whom finished under 21 minutes.
On the boys' side, however, Helena continued its stranglehold in the crosstown meets, with its 17th consecutive triumph over the Bruins. Paced by Jonah Fisher’s run to victory in 17:02, the Bengals put seven guys in the top 10, for a winning score of 23-38
“It feels good to finally break the streak,” said Capital girls' coach Katie Gilboy, who was the meet champion for the Bruins during the program’s last intra-city win in 2006. “Four years ago, when this group of seniors were freshmen, they made a vow to win crosstown before they graduated.
“It’s been incredible to watch how far they’ve come from where they started, with so much work they’ve done in the off season. I always tell them to have fun, but remember you have a job to do, and it’s nice to see them achieve their goals.”
Tonidandle related that her race went “really well,” starting out at a nice pace and maintaining it until over halfway through.
“I gave it my all the last 2K,” she recounted, pulling away for a 7-second win over teammate Nina Bracht-Bedell, at 20:27, “and I know I can definitely go faster at State, with more girls competing. I can’t wait for State, to see what we do as a team.”
The State Meet takes place at Bill Roberts on October 21st.
Capital’s Willa McCardle placed third on Wednesday at 20:30, ahead of Helena’s top finisher, Katelyn McKay, who crossed the line in 20:36 for fourth place. Then came a pack of three more Bruins, with Hannah Rohrer-Fitzhugh in fifth at 20:45, Meghan Robinson at 20:47, and Emma Rohrer-Fitzhugh in seventh place with a 20:51.
Alyssa Plant of HHS was next with a 20:42 for eighth, ahead of Bruin Ella Krumm at 20:56. The Bengals’ scoring was rounded out by Jasmine Wilkerson (21:04) in 10th, Jordyn Greve (21:49) and Oie Morgan (21:52) finishing 12th.
Seniors Tonidandle, Hannah and Robinosn were among the CHS frosh four years ago that coach Gilboy spoke of. Bracht-Bedell, Emma and Krumm are the team’s current promising freshmen.
“I’m just proud of how hard my team competed, and also very impressed with the job Katie’s done over there, and what a nice group of girls Capital has,” Helena coach Linda Paull said. “They have helped make us better.”
The Bengals were without the services of two of their top runners, sisters Claudia and Claire Downing, who are nursing injuries in preparation for State. Although their presence would have only slightly have affected the final score.
In the boys' event – a two-man race between Fisher and Capital’s Bryce Maxson – the Bengal harrier said his race was “a little rough,” due to an illness and the cold weather.
“It was not my favorite conditions,” Fisher said, explaining how his kick late in the race gave him the victory by a 4-second margin. “With about 600-700 meters left, I tried to extricate myself (from Maxson) by giving it my all the last little bit.”
Maxson ran just off of Fisher’s shoulder until near the end, and was clocked at 17:06.
Clayton Ryerson posted 17:17 and Jacob Rice was 17:29, for third and fourth place finishes for the Bengals. Next came CHS’ Spencer Bartow in fifth followed by teammate Jesse McMurtrey in sixth, at 17:34 and 17:37, respectively.
HHS then garnered seventh through 10th – by Zane Rousch (17:51), Devin Seyler (17:52), Trystan Brewer (17:53) and Kyler Campbell (17:55) – with a separation of only four seconds.
Making up Capital’s other two scorers were Peter Lund (18:08) in 11th, and Jake Bubb (18:52) in 14th place.
“We had seven guys under 18 minutes, and that’s the first time we’ve done that all year,” longtime Helena coach Kelley Gilbert said. “It’s the best effort we’ve had to date overall, and it’s nice to get the 17th (straight crosstown) … the kids will be excited about that.”
Bruin coach Tom Furlong said his team had a “great race today” with many of his guys having their best performances of the year.
“And it was fun and exciting just to have the two local schools competing together, even with the weather,” Furlong said.