Written by Al Stover
Markell Blount, Shawn DeLeau, Connor McKay and Jeremy Azure represented Wolf Point as they raced in the Montana High School Athletics State Cross Country Championships Oct. 26.
Competing against runners from over 30 schools, McKay came in 87th place with a time of 19:14.64. Blount placed 115th at 20:03.38, LeDeau came in 160th at 21:34.47 and Azure placed 178th at 39:59.27.
Blount said the mountain air was hard to adjust to and the course was hard. He also said he took off too fast and felt he was trying too hard.
Prior to leaving for the state championships the cross country team had a sendoff potluck dinner put on by their families, coaches and teammates, at the Fort Peck Community College Dumont Center.
All four members received blankets from coach Janet Erickson’s mother, Rhonda Mason, for the trip to Missoula.
After the boys were presented with their gifts, Erickson reflected on the start of the season. She complimented the boys on their guts, their lion-hearted spirit and their progress over the season.
Following encouragement from Erickson, Martell stood up and gave a speech. He thanked coaches Erickson, Stacey Summers and Stan Moran, his family and the junior high cross country runners for their encouragement. He also thanked his teammates for challenging and pushing him.
Azure stood up next and gave a speech about finishing his first cross country race and his progression toward qualifying for the state championships.
“I kept trying and my time started going down,” Azure said. “[When] I did it, I started crying.”
LeDeau and McKay also thanked the coaches and family for their support and their teammates for pushing them.
Wolf Point High School athletic director Mike Erickson said he was proud of all four boys for taking on the challenge. He also said that cross country was more than just about winning a race, but about putting on a uniform and representing their community.
“I’m proud of these guys,” Mike Erickson said. “It doesn’t matter what time they get, as long as they go out there and lay it on the line.”
Blount said the race humbled him. He also said he had considered playing football his senior year, but with the result of the race, Blount said he will train all summer and run in cross country next year.
“I refuse to end my career with a bad performance like that,” Blount said. “I’ll return next year [and] and bring back an all-state medal.”