Henry Ballinger

Helena Capital's Henry Ballinger is pictured during the 7 of 7 race last week at Bill Roberts Golf Course. 

HELENA  The 2020 season wasn't normal for any high school sport. But the local cross country schedule was impacted in a unique way as the usual crosstown cross country meet wasn't held last season.

There was a dual between Helena High and Capital at Siebel Soccer Fields to open the season, but it was more of a time trial. And later in the year, at Bill Roberts, Butte High joined the Bengals and Bruins to make the crosstown dual into a triad. 

Now, that things have mostly gone back to normal, the crosstown cross country meet is set to return on Wednesday as the Bruins and Bengals will meet at Bill Roberts golf course for their annual matchup.

Middle school teams will run first at 3 p.m., followed by the high school boys at 4 p.m. as well as the high school girls at 4:45 p.m.

And in this specific meet, there will be some interesting streaks on the line.

Back in 2019, the last time the crosstown meet, technically, was held, the Helena High boys defeated Capital for the 19th consecutive time. To be fair, the Bruins beat the Bengals in the Queen City time trial last season, as well as in the Capital-Helena-Butte Triad, but CHS could end the streak of Helena wins in crosstown duals Wednesday. 

Kylie Hartnett of Helena High will also be looking to put together another win on the course against Capital. She won the race back in 2018 and 2019, and won the Triad with Capital and Butte in 2020. She was also second last week in the No. 1 race in the Capital City 7 of 7 and was also fourth in the 7 of 7 back in 2018. It wasn't held in either 2019 (weather) or 2020 (COVID-19), so she's had her fair share of success running at Bill Roberts. 

Other Bengals such as Odessa Zentz who was first in the No. 3 race last week (7 of 7), Rylie Schoenfeld and Carly Ryan, if she's able to run, should also be among the first to cross the finish line, along with Emma Compton and Katie Sheridan on the Capital side.

Both teams are fresh off top-six finishes at the 7 of 7 meet. Helena was fourth and had six runners finish in the top four of their race. The only who didn't was Ryan who was unable to finish. The CHS girls had five finish in the top 8 of their race and no one finished outside the top 20. 

In the boys race, CHS should have the edge with a slew of veterans such as Brody Romano, Carlin Onstad, Henry Ballinger, Tyler Jost and Keiran Boyle all set to run for the Bruins. Henry Lund and Evan Stefaniak are among the top runners for Helena High.

The Bruins, who were sixth in last week's 7 of 7 race at Bill Roberts, thanks to six runners finishing in the top 10 of their respective race, have proven to be one of Class AA's top teams this season. The Helena High boys finished 20th.

The crosstown dual will also be the final competition for both Helena High and Capital before running at the state cross country meet in Missoula on Oct. 23. 

Chris is the sports editor and lead preps reporter for the Independent Record and 406mtsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @cmpetey406

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