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Helena High's Carly Ryan fights through pain, eyes return of Helena 7 of 7 meet

Carly Ryan

Carly Ryan, pictured in the front row to the right of a pair of Butte runners, is shown at Bill Roberts Golf Course running in 2020 for Helena High. She will be back in action on Thursday after missing time due to inury. 

HELENA — Running isn't necessarily easy on the body, especially not for someone with Baxters nervosa in their feet or issues with plantar fasciitis. 

But despite being sidelined the past few weeks due to those nagging injuries, Helena High's Carly Ryan won't let it slow her down, as the Bengal senior is expecting to return to race in Thursday's 7 of 7 meet at Bill Roberts Golf Course.

"I haven't been able to run for the past three weeks," Ryan said. "Tuesday was my first time running and putting pressure on my feet. So my progression is definitely going to be a little bit different than the rest of the girls on the team.

"They were able to do injections for the Baxter nervosa," Ryan added. "And I'm going to get a cortisone injection for state (Oct. 23rd) but after that, I'm going to have to give it lots of rest. You have to just sit it out." 

Obviously, the Helena 7 of 7 meet is one of the most important on the schedule for the Bengals, along with Helena Capital and other local teams. In all, there will be 48 teams in attendance, which is one reason it gets marked on the calendar.

"It's really exciting," Ryan said. "I know my teammates are really excited because this is like our first true 7 on 7. Last year, it was only the West. It wasn't the classic 7 on 7 meet. In my sophomore year it got canceled and we are all really excited to go out and compete."

On top of all the teams in attendance, the 7 of 7 meet also provides a unique challenge, one that serves as a good test for the state meet which is just a few weeks away (Oct. 23) in Missoula.

The meet also has a different format: every team's No. 1 runner will square off against other No. 1 runners and go on down the line.

Kylie Hartnett has been the No. 1 for the Bengals the past two seasons, along with Odessa Zentz. Ryan, for her part though, isn't far behind. She won a meet last season and has a second-place finish to her credit this year, as well as back-to-back top-35 finishes at state, plus a strong chance to contend for all-state honors, as well as a third straight Class AA team trophy for Helena High.

Ryan was a key part of the team that captured a trophy at state cross country for the first time in 34 years at Helena High back in 2019, as well as the one that got third again in 2020.

But even as her senior season winds down, it doesn't sound like Ryan's running days are over and as she gets focused on the 7 of 7 Thursday at Bill Roberts Golf Course, the Independent Record and 406mtsports.com caught with her for five questions. 

IR: What is it like to think of running against so many teams? 

Ryan: "It's really cool to think about. It's great preparation for state to see what the other teams are looking like and how each girl is turning out."

IR: How much does it mean for (Helena High) to do well at home? 

Ryan: "It definitely means a lot. I would say 7 of 7, Mountain West and state are our biggest meets of the year. It means a lot to have our friends there and stuff. You want to compete well."

IR: Are you interested in running in college? 

Ryan: "I'm definitely interested in running in college. I'm heavily considering the Griz right now and am probably going to wait until after the season to commit. I was actually in Tulsa last weekend. Eastern Washington as well as Southern Mississippi have also been interested for cross country and track."

IR: What did it mean to help Helena High win its first cross country trophy in 34 yards back in 2019 and again last year? 

Ryan: "Our sophomore year, it was the first time our old head coach Linda Paull had ever brought home a trophy. Having achieved what we have already achieved just makes us even more hungry to try and go for that state trophy."

IR: What's a hobby of yours or something people may not know about you?

Ryan: "I'm definitely a water person. Any place that there's water is my ideal place to be, so Helena is a pretty cool place. I also love hiking and spending time with my two dogs. They are my besties."

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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