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2014 Montana Cup Summary




Youth Will Be Served

by Tim Mosbacher


MISSOULA -- Young runners set the tone of the day at the 23rd running of the Montana Cup in Missoula.  Fourteen year old Bryn Morley of Bigfork (Kalispell) won the womenís race, becoming the youngest ever female winner.  Brynís sister Makena had set the age record the prior year, winning at the age of 16.  On the menís side, 22 year old Darby native, and current Montana State runner, Seth Garbett won narrowly over fellow teammate Cristian Soratos. 

Set on the Linda Vista golf course on Missoulaís west side, the 6k course consisted of three 2k loops.  The surface was a mixture of fairway, dirt, and dirt path, as well as two bale jumps for each lap.  Garbett felt the undulations and the number of turns made it a technical course.  New to the race was chip timing donated by Matthew Smeltzer with Competitive Timing. 

The competitors were treated well as the Brooker family showed Montana what Missoula has become accustomed to:  father Tim Brooker, along with Pat Cross and Dana Bandy, set up the course.  Mother Carol Brooker organized the food.  Volunteer coordinator Meg Brooker handled registration and greeted the runners.  Anders Brooker organized the entire event.    Montana Cup Hall of Famer Tony Banovich, recently name director of Run Wild Missoula, handled the post-race awards.

Team Kalispell's 14 year old Bryn Morley broke fast off the starting line and powered to a 57 second victory. BrynMorley.jpg
The women started the contest at noon sharp.  With zero wind, and a moderate fall temperature of 41 degrees Fahrenheit, the course was set for some competitive team racing.  At age 13 Bryn Morley placed fourth the preceding year, and she was the only returner of the 2013 top five women.  Morley from team Kalispell set the pace early, expecting some competition.  No one in the field was able to keep up with the 5:31 pace she poured out in the first 2k.  After the first lap she had a 17 second lead that continued to grow as the race progressed.  Even as she slowed to running a 5:51 pace, the damage was done, and Morley finished looking like she was out for an easy tempo run.

Cynthia Arnold (team Kalispell), new to the Montana Cup and fresh from setting a course record at the Missoula Sentinel Hill Climb the week before, held on to second place the entire race.  The real race was happening behind the two front runners. Jessica Johnson of team Kalispell was in third most of the first 2k, making it seem like Kalispell would sweep the top three spots.   Elizabeth Paddock of Missoula broke up the sweep at the 2k mat, and then Johnson crumbled, running the second 2k 50 seconds slower.  Her drop to sixth place would come back later to haunt Kalispell in the team rankings.  Trisha Nelson (Bozeman), Montana Cup Hall of Famer Nicole Hunt (Butte), and Olympian Dianne Cummins rounded out the top 7.

Cummins, recently retiring from the international track scene, showed off her 1:58 800m speed by running the fifth fastest last 2k and shooting up from the 18th place she was in after the first 2k. 

With Johnson falling back and Cummins flying forward, Missoula won its fourth team trophy in a row by one point over Kalispell.  No other team in Montana has won back-to-back championships.  This was Missoulaís thirteenth win. 

44 year old Nicole Hunt from the Butte region won the masters division in 23:15, a time that also placed her fifth overall. NicoleHunt.jpg
Nicole Hunt was the first place Masterís woman, but being Butteís only master runner, she was eliminated from the team scoring, enabling Missoulaís womenís masters team to pull off the womenís sweep by scoring a perfect score of 15.  This was also their fourth straight year of winning the team title and fifth win out of the ten years there has been a masterís team trophy.

Missoulaís Master women were one placer shy of sweeping the top seven scoring and displacing positions in their race. As it was they claimed the top six places, scoring 15 points, the lowest possible amount. The squad was heavily flavored with pink-clad Mountain West Track Club members. Pictured from L to R: Tammy Mocabee, Diane Cummins (1st place), Mary Thane (5th), Danelle Gjetmundsen, Amy Moore, Team Captain Jenny Newton (4th), Courtney Babcock (2nd), and Pamela Estill. Not pictured: Rye Palen (3rd), Janicka Umile (6th), and Patty Kent (9th). MastersWomenTeam.JPG

The menís race unfolded similarly to the womenís race. Three 22 year olds and ex-Montana State cross country teammates charged to the lead.  All three, Gargett, Soratos, and Trevor Polson, along with closely trailing Jim Walmsley (Great Falls), Cesar Mireles (Billings and 2012 Champion) ran a sub five minute pace for the first 2k to open a gap on the field.  Walmsley, an officer in the Air Force and, like Arnold in the womanís race fresh off of setting the course record in the Missoula Mount Sentinel Hill Climb, made a push in the second lap.  He, along with Polson, was unable to hold the pace and fell back off the lead pack.  Garbett gained a second over Soratos in the second lap and then surged early in the third lap, fearful of Soratosís finishing capability, demonstrated as the defending Big Sky Conference 1500m champion.  Garbettís surge was successful, as Soratos was not able to keep up, losing by 10 seconds. 

Rounding out the top seven for the men were Polson, Walmsley, Mireles, 16 year old Logan Morley (Kalispell) one week off his state championship cross country victory, and 22 year old Samuel Read of Bozeman.  Walmsley and Mireles, at age 24, were the old men on the podium.

Despite not placing anyone in the seven, Missoula placed seven runners in the top 18 to win the team title by 23 points over Bozeman.  Missoula was led by Jared Scott who recently moved to Missoula and was on the 2012 US National snowshoe racing team.  This was Missoulaís fourth win in a row and their sixteenth overall win with the next closest team in Montana with only three wins.

On the masters side, former American marathon record holder and currently the Carroll College cross country coach David Morris of Helena, led all masters with a twelve place overall finish.  Morris topped second place finisher Scott Creel (Bozeman) by 23 seconds.  Calamity Seeley (Kalispell), Aaron Derry (Missoula), Montana Cup Hall of Famer Pat Judge (Helena), Chad Coley (Bozeman) and Neal Andrews (Bozeman) rounded out the top seven. 

Placing three runners in the top seven enabled Bozeman to win the
Bozemanís Master men prevented Missoula from claiming all four team trophies of the day. With 37 points, Bozeman beat second place Helena, the defending champions, by three points. The Bozeman crew included from L to R:  Tim McNicholas (26th), Rob Walker  (12th place), Scott Creel (2nd), Neil Andrews (7th), Ty Monks (10th),  Tom Walsh, Andy Garza (with cup),  Sebastian White (21st), and Chad Coley (6th). BzmnMenMasters-small
Masterís men title by three points over Helena.  Since 2010, both Helena and Bozeman have swapped the trophy with Bozeman, winning on the even years.  This was their fifth win out of the ten years the trophy has been awarded. 

110 men and 79 women competed in the 2014 Montana Cup, down from the 247 record finishers the previous year in Deer Lodge.  In 2015, the Cup will be hosted by Helena on October 31.

In other Montana Cup news: Three-time previous Montana Cup champion, Alan King of Billings was recently inducted into the Montana Cup Hall of Fame. Sadly for Cup fans, Alan will soon be moving away from Montana to pursue employment elsewhere.