Kylie Hartnett

Kylie Hartnett of Helena High took first place in the crosstown dual earlier this year at Bill Roberts Golf Course in Helena. 

HELENA — Cross country takes a certain kind of mental toughness and when it's cold and windy as it was Wednesday at Bill Roberts Golf Course, that's especially true.

In their final tune-up for the state cross country meets, both the Helena High and Capital teams braved the elements for their final race of the regular season and while the weather didn't make for great times, it offered it's own sort of motivation.  

"The faster you race, the faster you can get done," Helena High's Kylie Hartnett quipped. "You can get clothes, and get out of the wind. Everyone has to race in the cold and wind, so it's better to tough it out, instead of whine and cry about it."

Hartnett's also used to running at Bill Roberts and most of the time during her high school career, she's been first across the finish line as she was Wednesday after posting a time of 18:44. 

"It was kind of nice to end on a happy note," Hartnett, a senior, said. "I have won every year since I was a freshman so it was good to have a nice, positive race before I head to state."

Another Bengal senior, Odessa Zentz (19:52) finished second and Rylie Schoenfeld (6th, 21:12) was right there in the top six as Helena had five of the top seven finishers. Capital was paced by Katie Sheridan (19:57) who took third and also Emma Compton who was fourth (20:45). Annie Menden was also fifth for Helena High (21:00) as the Bengals finished with 23 points compared to Capital which wound up with 34.

The team victory was the third consecutive for Helena High. The crosstown dual wasn't held last season between the two teams but the Bengal girls still finished with a perfect mark (3-0) against the Bruins over the past four years in head-to-head competition. 

"It's kind of sad that this will be the last time I'm racing it (Bill Roberts)," Hartnett said. "Especially with some of the girls I have been running with since freshman year. It's sad it's our last race here but it's a good race to go out on."

Winning in crosstown is always a good note to go out on.

"It's nice that we were able to get the winning streak back," Hartnett said. "We lost it when I was in my eighth grade year and now our legacy will continue with it if they keep winning."

In the boys race, it was Capital that came out on top with 17 points compared to 50 for the Bengals, and that meant that another crosstown win streak came to an end.

Helena High had won the previous 19 meets in crosstown cross country duals with Helena Capital. But on Wednesday, the Bruins had five of the first six runners across the finish line, including junior Brody Romano who took first and also relished the chance to end the losing streak to the Bengals.

"It feels really good," Romano said. "Helena Capital hasn't won (crosstown) for quite a while and it's pretty cool to be part of the team that was the first to beat Helena High in a long time."

Soon after Romano (17:31) finished, Henry Ballinger (17:39) was right behind him to finish in second. Tyler Jost (17:46), Jacob Curry (17:54) and Keiran Boyle (18:04) rounded out the top five finishers for CHS.

"We didn't get the chance last year," Romano said of crosstown. "Because we didn't have this race, but it's been in the back of our minds. It was definitely something that we were working towards this year."

Henry Sund was fourth and the top finisher for Helena High (17:49). Jake Matthews also finished 10th (18:42), while Adam Ryland-David, Andre Madsen and Trey Schleep were 11th, 12th and 13th. 

Both teams will be back in action next Saturday in Missoula at the state cross country meet. 

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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