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Members of the Missoula Hellgate girls cross country team celebrate after winning the team championship at the state meet last October in Missoula. 

Cross country

Class AA

2018 champions

Boys: Bozeman; Ben Perrin of Kalispell Flathead

Girls: Missoula Hellgate; Tiahna Vladic of Billings Senior

2019 storyline: Missoula Hellgate’s girls snapped Bozeman’s 11-year streak of winning state cross country. The Knights graduated five of their seven varsity runners but expect to reload with some younger talent while the Hawks shouldn't be going anywhere. Terra Trom, a senior at Bozeman, was second last year at the state meet while fellow Hawk senior Alex Moore was fourth. Two-time state champion Tiahna Vladic of Billings Senior is off to compete at Boise State, which paves the way for a new titlist to be crowned at the AA level.

On the boys side, Bozeman won its 11th team title in a row last fall to continue its run of dominance. Flathead’s Ben Perrin now runs at Montana State, so the boys will also see a new champion crowned individually. Kalispell Glacier senior Simon Hill represents the highest returning placer from a year ago after taking second in 2018. Bozeman returns two placers from last season including junior Xander Danenhauer (sixth) and senior Jonathan Wheeler (12th). Hellgate, which took second as a team in 2018, returns all five of its state placers including senior Ian Curtis who took fifth last year.

Class A

2018 champions

Boys: Columbia Falls; Levi Taylor of Laurel

Girls: Hardin; Beatrix Frissell of Polson

2019 storyline: Laurel’s Levi Taylor and Polson’s Beatrix Frissell were both two-time individual champions at the Class A state cross country meet. Taylor is now at Montana State while Frissell competes at Montana, so new faces will be atop the podium this season. The Hardin girls have won three state team titles and don’t show any signs of slowing down. All seven of Hardin’s varsity runners at state last season were juniors or younger. The Bulldogs return all of that talent and will be led by junior Kylah Two Leggins (third a year ago), junior Libby Nedens (fifth) and junior Marion Hugs (ninth). Hamilton junior Brynnli Poulsen is the highest returning placer after taking second a year ago.

Columbia Falls seems primed to repeat as they return four of their five state placers from last year including senior Joe Lamb who finished third a year ago and junior Seth Umbriaco who was fourth. Lewistown’s Sam Fulbright, now a senior, was second a year ago.

Class B

2018 champions

Boys: Manhattan; Hudson Atkinson of Poplar

Girls: Manhattan; Whitney Hanson of Colstrip

2019 storyline: As a program, Manhattan’s boys and girls want to continue their recent run of dominance. The Tiger boys have won two straight titles and three in the last four years while the girls have won three in a row and four out of the last five years. The boys will be tasked with a reloading project after graduating three of their top four runners. Second-place Glasgow returns its top two runners in seniors Wilson Overby (fourth) and Ike Braaten (sixth) but also loses four of its seven varsity runners. Poplar junior Hudson Atkinson should be back to defend his title. Manhattan’s girls return all seven varsity runners from state last year including senior Jodi Cameron who took fifth. Colstrip, which took second place last year, lost state champ Whitney Hanson but returns its remaining six varsity runners including sophomore Hayley Burns who took third. Huntley Project sophomore Natalie Lile finished second a year ago as well.

Class C

2018 champions

Boys: Manhattan Christian; Riley Schott of Manhattan Christian

Girls: West Yellowstone; Sariah Maughan of Seeley-Swan

2019 storyline: Manhattan Christian's boys will aim for a fourth straight cross country championship in 2019. Riley Schott, now a junior for the Eagles, should be back to defend his individual title while Manhattan Christian returns all three of its state placers from last season in senior Ben Morrison (third) and Sam Leep (fifth). Richey-Lambert's Samuel Smith, now a junior, was second last year while Sheridan junior Luke Dvorak was fourth. Richey-Lambert has been runner-up to Manhattan Christian the past two seasons. On the girls side, West Yellowstone is gunning for a three-peat and its fourth state title in the last six years. Seeley-Swan's Sariah Maughan won the individual title last season as a freshman. The 2017 state champ, Averi Parker of West Yellowstone, should be back for her senior year as should the 2016 champ in Darby's Gracie Lang, who is also now a senior. Nine of last year's top 10 Class C girls were juniors or younger. 

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Kyle Hansen covers Griz men's basketball and more for the Missoulian and 406mtsports.com. Email him at kyle.hansen@406mtsports.com or follow him on Twitter at @khansen406

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