By Evan McCullers
The Daily Inter Lake
Flathead stole the spotlight from crosstown rival and host Glacier on Wednesday afternoon.
The Braves and Bravettes captured three of the four titles — both individual titles and the girls team championship — at the Glacier Invitational at Glacier High School.
In a final tuneup before next weekend’s state meet, Ben Perrin won the boys race in 16:08 5k and Kaitlin Wride reigned victorious among the girls with a 19:44.
“It was all that I could expect,” Perrin said of his win. “It actually helps a lot. I wanted to get some confidence going into state, because it’s just nice to have that extra edge, have a good mental mindset going into that race.”
Flathead boys coach Paul Jorgensen said such a mental edge is invaluable at a pressure-packed and emotionally charged race such as the state meet.
“It’s huge,” Jorgensen said. “If you don’t have a good race (before state), then you start to question yourself.”
Perrin, who also won the Glacier Invitational in 2016 as a sophomore, outraced a trio of Glacier runners by 22 seconds for the win. Aren Alexander-Battee was second, and teammates Elijah Boyd and Simon Hill crossed the finish line together nine seconds behind him.
Glacier rested several of its top runners, including Annie Hill, in preparation for state in Helena.
“We want to put all our eggs into next weekend,” Glacier coach Jacob Deitz said. “We’re trying to keep them healthy.
“We’ve had a hard time getting everybody healthy at once, both our boys and girls. For those that ran, they looked really good.”
Wride took advantage of Hill’s absence, edging teammate Tori Noland-Gillespie by nine seconds to lead the Flathead girls to 20-38 victory over the Wolfpack.
“I think that we all raced really well today,” Wride said. “A few races we’ve all raced really well this season, and our whole team’s confidence has been boosted.
“I think if you keep that in mind — that you’re running for your team and not just yourself — that will really push you to do well.”
Glacier took the boys team title with 25 points to Flathead’s 30.
With their final regular-season meet now behind them, both teams plan to taper their mileage over the next week and a half, focusing more on speed work and staying loose and healthy instead of fitness this late in the year.
“It will be interesting to see where we’re at,” Deitz said. “I feel fairly confident that we’ll race well. It’s just a question mark of what racing well means, place-wise.”
The state meet begins at noon on Saturday, Oct. 21, in Helena.
Top 10 individuals
1, Ben Perrin, Flathead, 16:08; 2, Aren Alexander-Battee, Glacier, 16:30; 3, Elijah Boyd, Glacier, 16:39; 4, Simon Hill, Glacier, 16:39; 5, Keaton Fischer, Flathead, 17:20; 6, Griffin Fischer, Flathead, 17:26; 7, Nash Grafe, Glacier, 17:28; 8, Alex Murphy, Flathead, 17:37; 9, Keegan Siebenaler, Glacier, 17:44; 10, Kyle Calles, Flathead, 17:48.
Glacier 25, Flathead 30.
Top 10 individuals
1, Kaitlin Wride, Flathead, 19:44; 2, Tori Noland-Gillespie, Flathead, 19:53; 3, Kinzie Peterson, Glacier, 20:09; 4, Meaghan Fisher, Flathead, 20:18; 5, Addie Labrum, Glacier, 20:34; 6, Hailey Allen, Flathead, 20:48; 7, Hannah Perrin, Flathead, 20:50; 8, Sadie Wilson, Flathead, 21:23; 9, Emma Mcdonald, Glacier, 21:30; 10, Aubry Grame, Glacier, 21:44.
Flathead 20, Glacier 38.