One of signs that the high school cross country season is nearing the end is the annual Capital City 7 of 7 Meet. On Thursday, about 55 teams from around the state representing all four school classes will converge on Bill Roberts Golf Course for the 7 of 7.
Among the local favorites are this week’s 5 Questions subjects — Capital High senior Jesse McMurtrey, and Kylie Hartnett, a freshman with Helena High. Both are the latest “August Road Race” champions, and each is their respective team’s No. 1 harrier.
Jesse McMurtrey (Capital)
Jesse is the son of Bryan and Teresa (Christopherson) McMurtrey. Bryan played football, basketball and tennis for Polson High, while Teresa was a cheerleader for the Broadwater County High Bulldogs.
McMurtrey first started running cross country at CR Anderson Middle School. He then took a couple years off from competition, returning to the track as a Capital sophomore, and to cross country his junior year.
He was the Bruins’ No. 2 harrier last season, placing 31st at the 2017 State Meet. This past summer his training runs averaged about 60 miles a week, and he currently logs approximately 40-50 miles weekly.
This year, as CHS’ No. 1 runner, McMurtrey and Helena High junior Jonah Fisher have been battling neck-and-neck throughout the fall.
McMurtrey’s placing this season include an 11th place (16:59) at Billings, ninth (16:24) in Bozeman, third (17:41) in his pool at Great Falls and ninth (16:41) in Butte.
At the latest meet, Missoula’s prestigious Mountain West Classic, McMurtrey — who has lowered his PR from last year by 52 seconds — placed 38th, in 16:57.
Kylie Hartnett (Helena High)
Hartnett’s parents are John and Marty (Dufield) Hartnett, who attended Plains and Helena High, respectively. Her dad competed at football, basketball, wrestling, and track and field for the Class B Horsemen.
Kylie, whose other youth sports have included soccer, basketball and snow skiing, began running cross country in sixth grade at Montana City Middle School. She said she’s “undecided” about trying out for HHS hoops this winter.
“I might just concentrate on running and be able to go skiing a whole lot,” Hartnett said.
This past summer, in Provo, Utah, Hartnett captured the USATF Regional Junior Olympics (15-16 year olds) 3,000 meter championship with a time of 10:59.
She is averaging around 25-30 miles for her “in season” training runs, after putting in “roughly 40-45 miles out of season.”
Hartnett’s cross country placings this fall for the Lady Bengals consist of ninth (20:00) in Billings, winning both Bozeman (20:07) and her pool in Great Falls (20:23), and finishing runner-up (19:15) at Butte.
At the Mountain West Classic, she ran an 18:54 — dropping her PR by 21 seconds — while finishing eighth in a field of 384 athletes. Her time is the school’s fastest time for a freshman girl at the new 5K distance, and the quickest overall since Josey Smiedala’s 18:45 in 2011, on a shorter 3-mile course.
1: What do you consider the highlight of your career?
McMurtrey: Setting personal goals and achieving them, and having great teammates and coaches for support.
Hartnett: Being named Montana’s Junior Olympics track athlete of the year for 15-16 year olds, but I’m still 14.
2: Which do you like running better, cross country or track?
Hartnett: I like both and I don’t know yet because I don’t know what high school track will be like versus middle school. Besides, I’ve got time to figure that out over the next four years.
McMurtrey: I enjoy both equally.
3: What are your favorite subjects and/or classes in school?
McMurtrey: My favorite subject is history, and my classes are machining and government.
Hartnett: Biomed and science.
4: Do you have any favorite international or Olympic runners, and if so, why do you like them?
Hartnett: I guess (Billings Senior alum and current Stanford great) Christina Aragon because she ran with my sister. She is really good but she’s not arrogant and she is always so kind to everyone.
McMurtrey: (The late) Steve Perfontaine. He never gave up.
5: Who has had the most influence on your athletic career, and how so?
McMurtrey: My coaches, Mr. (Ed) Darfler, Mr. (Chris) Beskid, and Mr. (Dave) Tuss, for all the words of encouragement, motivation, leadership and strength that they’ve given me. I will always be grateful for them and what they have taught me.
Hartnett: Shelia Plant, because when I started in sixth grade for soccer, she made me have a love for running and she made it really fun. Also Jesse Zentz helped me a lot with track and he was the one who helped me win at Provo and got me into cross country for HHS. Also my family.