Mark Messmer was part of a 1-2 finish for the Griz men
Sep 6, 2013
Montana had the individual champions and the Grizzlies easily won the team titles Friday as they opened the 2013 cross country season at the Carroll Early Bird Invitational at the Bill Roberts Golf Course in Helena.
Redshirt junior Keli Dennehy, who hadn't competed at a cross country meet since 2011, won the women's four-kilometer race in a time of 14:12. Redshirt freshman Adam Wollant, competing for Montana for the first time, won the six-kilometer men's collegiate race in a time of 19:09.
For Dennehy, who finished fourth overall at the Big Sky Conference cross country championships as a true freshman in 2010, Friday was a triumphant return from injury that cost her the 2012 cross country season and nagged her throughout the 2013 track season.
She won Friday's race by 20 seconds over teammate Carly Wilczynski, a UM junior who finished runner-up a year ago as well. Wilczynski covered the course three seconds faster this year in a time of 14:32.
"Keli ran with confidence today, and she ran with focus," UM cross country co-coach Vicky Pounds said. "She looked really strong."
As expected, with only Carroll and Great Falls sending athletes to the collegiate meet, the Grizzlies dominated the top of the results. Montana had the top four finishers and placed its seven runner in the top nine.
Behind Dennehy and Wilczynski were freshman Reagan Colyer in third (14:37), redshirt freshman Sarah Hastings in fourth (14:49), junior Heather Fraley in sixth (14:58), junior Allie Parks in eighth (15:17) and redshirt freshman Lauryn Wate in ninth (15:25).
Montana had five runners break 15 minutes in this year's race. Last year only Wilczynski did.
"It's a great way to start off the season," Pounds said. "We expected to be atop the standings. We knew going in that's where we should be."
The story in the men's race was Wollant, a 2012 Bozeman High grad who had a tryout with Montana last fall. He didn't make the team, but he continued to chase his dream and had another tryout last Friday.
"Adam did an amazing job at the tryout. He pretty much crushed it, so I knew he could contribute to the team," Pounds said. "I was just surprised to see him be the first Montana runner. It's a great surprise, that's for sure.
"I'm proud of him, just where he came from last year. He worked his butt off to get another opportunity, and he definitely took advantage of it."
The Montana men claimed five of the top six spots in the collegiate race, with Wollant being trailed by redshirt sophomore Mark Messmer in second (19:25), sophomore Matt Barker in fourth (19:35), freshman Paden Alexander in fifth (19:43) and redshirt freshman Cody Curtis in sixth (19:45).
All five of those athletes are underclassmen in eligibility.
"And it feels like there is so much more capability there too," Pounds said. "We just need to keep developing them and keep them healthy."
Montana will face its first Division I competition of the fall when the Grizzlies compete at the Montana State Invitational in Bozeman on Saturday, Sept. 21.
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