Caleb Deitz and sophomore David Norris, who finished second and third, the Montana men's cross country team won the Carroll College Early Bird Open Friday at the Bill Roberts Golf Course in Helena.
In its first race without the dominating presence of Lynn Reynolds, it was success by committee Friday for the men's team. Montana had four of the top six across the line, with only a 17-second gap between Deitz and junior Jordan Collison, who finished sixth.
Matt Barker, a freshman from Helena who was back running on his home course, was fifth.
Deitz, a transfer from Carroll, trailed only Spokane Community College freshman Jon Smith in the overall standings. Smith covered the three-loop, six-kilometer race in 19:01, a mile pace of 5:06.
Deitz ran a 19:14, Norris a 19:22, and Barker and Collison both came through at 19:31. Freshman Colby Henderson was Montana's No. 5 runner, coming through in 19:59.
"Our goal was to stay together for at least two of the three loops, and we did exactly that," UM cross country coach Courtney Babcock said. "We had a great pack up front. It was nice to see all Griz."
Montana easily won the team title with 29 points. Spokane CC was second with 51, MSU Billings third with 57.
The Montana women had only five runners Friday, two of whom were competing in their first collegiate cross country race.
Wilczynski fell behind Carroll junior Rhianna Grossman early and was not able to close the gap, but she still finished 14 seconds clear of third place. It was the first time Wilczynski finished as the Grizzlies' top runner.
Grossman covered the two-loop, four-kilometer race in 14:21, Wilczynski in 14:35. Parks was ninth in a time of 15:14.
Meyer and Furrer were both first-timers.
Montana, with 105 points, finished behind Carroll (30), Rocky Mountain (72) and MSU Billings (76). The Saints, ranked No. 6 in the nation at the NAIA level, placed their top five in the top 10 overall.
"We had three of our top runners not competing, so we knew going in we would be on the short end in terms of depth and experience," Babcock said. "It was a good experience for the girls who were racing their first time."
Montana will compete Saturday morning at the Montana State Invitational at the Bridger Creek Golf Course in Bozeman. The men's five-mile race starts at 9 a.m., the women's three-mile race at 9:40.
"I think it was nice getting some of those race-day nerves out and remembering what it's like to run cross again," Babcock added. "When you have an intrasquad meet, you just don't get the same nerves you do when there are other teams there.
"Now we should be able to work through that a little better next Saturday."
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