Mustached Cats runners win Thompson Falls meet

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Mustaches Wildcat runners Jimmy-James Peterson (left) and Bailey Sjostrom run the course in Thompson Falls last week. (Photo provided)

It was a busy week of running for the Columbia Falls cross country teams as they were in action at Thompson Falls Tuesday and in Great Falls Friday.

As usual, head coach Jim Peacock’s teams were having fun in Thompson Falls as they celebrated the team’s favorite holiday, one they call “International Take Your Mustache For A Run Day.” According to Peacock, the traditions of the holiday are simple and dictate that runners have a mustache, take it for a run and tell everyone encountered while running “Happy International Take Your Mustache For A Run day!”

“It seems we were the only team in Thompson Falls that was aware of this international holiday, and as such, we were the only runners present with mustaches while we raced,” Peacock said. “It made no difference to our festive spirit.”

All joking aside, the Columbia Falls runners had another great day on the course as both the boys and girls varsity teams earned first-place finishes.

The boys race started out fast thanks to the early confidence and enthusiasm of James Role, who went on to finish ninth. The early pace separated the field at the mile mark as the top two finishers made a move, and the Columbia Falls top runners were late to respond, but still held position toward the front of the field.

Joe Lamb wound up with a third place finish and Aidan Jarvis was fourth to lead the way for the Cats while Jimmy-James Petersen had a career-best race to come in 10th.

Bailey Sjostrom rounded out the top five Wildcat runners with a 13th place finish.

The girls’ varsity race was dominated by Lara Erickson, who decided to take the race out fast. She was never challenged and finished almost a minute ahead of the rest of the competition. Hannah Sempf had a breakout performance to take third while Alyssa Blankenship was sixth. The varsity scoring was rounded out with Rebekah Walker and Katerina Riegelova.

“Each week, the varsity girls are getting faster. I’m not sure what their ceiling is, but I’m looking forward to seeing where they are in a few more weeks,” Peacock said about the race.

Both teams were back in action just three days later as they got a preview of this year’s state course in Great Falls.

The boys team was still not competing at full strength as Seth Umbriaco, who did not run in Thompson Falls due to illness, ran the Great Falls race despite not feeling 100 percent. The Wildcats took second among Class A schools at the race, behind Lewistown.

The Wildkat runners took fifth among Class A schools at the meet as the team was once again led by Erickson.

“I liked the way we competed on tired legs, and I am excited about the knowledge we took home of the course so we can plan for state,” Peacock said about the Great Falls races.

Both teams will be in action in Missoula Saturday at the Mountain West Classic.

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