Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Lodge Grass High School’s cross-country runners line up recently at Gas Cap Hill (from the left): Kaitlyn Ascentio, Fred Backbone, Riley Hogan, Chantelle Pretty On Top, Tyrresa Pretty On Top, Aaliya Dust, Samantha Hoops, Santina Bishop, Keeley Glying, Henry Pretty On Top, Teton Left Hand and Below Left Hand. Standing behind them are coaches Beckey Long Warrior and Melville Stops.

New and seasoned coaches lead Lodge Grass cross-country teams

Lodge Grass High School’s cross – country team is competing well, according to Head Coach Rob Stuker, who has coached various sports in town for the past 23 years. Prior to coaching cross-country in Lodge Grass, he coached the sport for one year in Lame Deer and one year Muckleshoot Tribal School in Auburn, Wash.

Stuker teaches middle and high school government and history. He expects a lot of his students, often assigning position papers on controversial topics.

Coach Stuker’s day begins long before the first school bell rings. He’s often spotted coaching his runners in the Lodge Grass countryside and he is looking forward to state in Kalispell in October.

Sept. 17, the cross country team competed in Colstrip. On the green terrain under the sun, a number of the Lodge Grass runners placed. Leading the pack was Henry Pretty On Top, who took eighth place for varsity. Last week at Gas Cap in Crow Agency, Pretty On Top placed fifth after running 2.98 miles in 18:05. Edward Left Hand, better known as Below, placed 37th.

With a refreshing breeze encouraging the runners, junior varsity runners made their mark. Teton Left Hand placed 17th in the JV.

The girls head coach, Beckey Long Warrior, said, “I’m really excited to see how the girls do at state. They just keep getting better and better. They work hard together. It’s been easy coaching them, even though it’s my first year.”

JV runner Keeley Flying placed fifth, followed by teammate Samantha Hoops who took sixth place.

Melville Stops, junior high head coach for boys and girls, said, “This is my first year coaching cross – country at Lodge Grass, but I like how positive the students are. I’ve coached in other places, but this is, by far, the best team I’ve ever coached. My goal for the runners is to win both the boys and girls conferences.”

The Pretty on Top twins keep ranking in the top 10. Shantell Pretty On Top placed second, followed by her twin, Tyressa Pretty On Top, in sixth place. Riley Hogan placed 20th and Aaliyah Dust came in 23rd. Jordan Jefferson placed 30th, Shorty Pretty On Top placed 47th, Teyan Dabney placed 53rd and Jazmine Half placed 40th.

Coach Stuker’s love of cross country goes back to his best time of 16:01 running the three mile for the Havre Blue Ponies.

“Over the years, I’ve coached a lot of good cross country runners,” he said. “Running is fun. It gives you a chance to meet new people, get outdoors and clear your mind.”