BLANCHARD — For the first time in the history of Montabella cross country, the girl Mustangs have an extended season past regionals.
The Mustang girls are in preparations for the Division 4 state finals at Michigan International Speedway Saturday. They were one of three teams that qualified from the Carson City-Crystal regional.
“They’re very excited,” coach Jeff Kauffman said of his team. “It’s been a lot of hard work and the work paid off. They were in a tough regional race and they beat a really good (Mount Pleasant) Sacred Heart team to qualify.”
But Montabella did, and so they will run at the speedway more famous for race cars than running races.
“Currently we’re ranked 10th and our goal is to get top 10,” Kauffman said. “We’ve been ranked top 10. We also have some individuals that want to be all-state as well.”
But to do so, the Mustangs can’t get overly pumped up about being at the finals, according to Kauffman.
“We need to run a smart race,” he said. “At MIS everyone gets excited. For Taylor (Smith) and Kenzie (Garvey), run their race and get all-state. Taylor has been all-state three times before and she and Kenzie are looking to get all state.”
The top 30 individual runners will be named all-state in cross country.
As far as the entire team is concerned, in order to have a good showing the Mustangs must run some of their best races, Kauffman said.
“For the team we’re only as good as our fifth. So our fifth girl has to step up and run her race,” he said of Brynn Lobert. “And for Taylor and Kenzie, Taylor just needs to run well like she has the past three years. Both of them have to run really strong.”
Kauffman isn’t looking at specific teams that he wants to catch in order to have a good team finish.
“At this point, go out and run,” he said. “There are some girls I’ll tell Taylor to go out with. There’s a girl from Breckenridge that I’ll tell her to go run with. Some teams go out in a pack but our top two are so phenomenal that they will run and we have to have the other three girls step up.”
The Division 4 girls race will start at 10 a.m. and will be the first race on the schedule.