The course was praised as beautiful. The temperature was not too hot. Outside of the germs floating around the team, the Cody cross country running teams did not have complaints about the Bozeman Invitational on Saturday.

As one of only two Wyoming teams, the other being from Sheridan, the Broncs and Fillies felt a special warmth from cheering fans as they seemed to be greeted as special foreign guests from afar rather than from just 205 miles down the Interstate.

“A Bozeman lady came up to me and said, ‘Are you guys really from Wyoming?’” Bronc runner Braydon Bond said. “The announcer was saying, ‘Thank you, Cody.’”

It was a bit puzzling being welcomed as if they had come straight from Ellis Island. The reception was peculiar enough Cody runners bonded with Sheridan runners, jokingly proclaimed themselves Team Wyoming – and posed for pictures together.

For all of the pleasant surroundings, the race was not one of Cody’s finest. Chalk that up to illness, especially on the girls side.

No. 1 Filly Riley Smith dropped out of the race feeling ill. The team was already short-handed with other runners left at home because they were sick. Plus, Ashton Powell was not at full strength either because of illness.

So the Fillies had no team score with just four finishers.

Senior Baylee Stafford placed 11th over the 5-kilometer course in 20 minutes, 20 seconds. Next in was junior Emmy Bower in 27th.

“We just need to get healthy and get back to full strength again,” said Stafford, who has run well all season. “I’m just trying to keep getting stronger each week.”

The course was laid out on a golf course featuring mild hills, no big ones, but there were tight corners funneling the large pack (139 girls finishers) together.

“I went out at a good pace,” Stafford said of her start. “I got boxed in.”

Powell, a sophomore, said she has felt sick for about 10 days, but finally thinks she is borderline recovered.

“My races haven’t been where I have wanted them to be,” she said. “I haven’t been to a lot of practices.”

The whole Team Wyoming thing and fans reacting as if Cody and Sheridan are located in New Guinea or somewhere, cracked her up.

“It was really funny,” Powell said.

The boys had enough bodies and placed 13th in their team race.

Senior Owen Preston’s 22nd in 17:12 was the highest finish for the Broncs, among 173 finishers. Freshman David Juergens was next in 41st in 17:45.

“The race didn’t go too great, but it wasn’t too bad,” Preston said. “I might have started too fast.”

He prefers to start slower than the frontrunners and pick off others later.

“Usually, it works well for your mental state,” Preston said.

Wyatt Becker said he struggled in the second mile and although the temperature was much lower than the 90 a week earlier at Wyoming Indian, he felt it.

“It was still pretty warm down there,” Becker said.

It was a fresh course for Cody runners and Bond said it “reminded me of a mix of Billings and our (Olive Glenn) course too.”

And where does Cody race next? Saturday at the Ludwig Invitational, hosted by Sheridan.

Perhaps more friend pictures are in the offing.

Bozeman Invitational Girls

Teams: 1) Bozeman, 38. 4) Sheridan, 149.

Thirteen other complete teams, Cody one of five incomplete teams.

Individuals

11) Baylee Stafford, 20:20; 27) Emmy Bower, 21:04; 35) Ava Stafford, 21:21; 51) Ashton Powell, 21:48.

Boys

Teams: 1) Hellgate, 36; 2) Bozeman, 41; 3) Sheridan, 123; 4) Billings West, 156; 5) Helena, 184; 6)Fergus, 212; 7) Manhattan Christian, 231; 8) Hardin, 246; 9) Charles M. Russell, 266; 10 Billings Senior, 293; 11) Billings Skyview, 299; 12) Helena Capital, 327; 13) Cody, 364; 14) Great Falls, 368; 15) Park, 372; 16) Manhattan, 462; 17) Belgrade, 472; 18) Butte, 584; 19) Billings Central Catholic, 649; 20) Three Forks, 650.

Individuals

22) Owen Preston, 17:12; 41) David Juergens, 17:45; 84) Wyatt Becker, 18:46; 122) Braydon Bond, 19:34; 129) Riley Nielsen, 19:46; 146) Kyle Graham, 20:39.158) Josh Deal, 21:32; 161) Hayden Campbell, 21:44.

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