Over the last few years, there has been an explosion in the collegiate opportunities for runners in Montana. For so many years, the only options were MSU and UM. Both had great programs; but, with the limitations imposed by the NCAA, the opportunity for walk-on or JV programs has all but disappeared.
For 19 years, MSU-B has had a cross-country program at the DII level; and, was the only option for runners who weren't ready for running at the DI level. And they have produced some very solid athletes over the years. But, in order to run with athletes of comparable levels, they have had to travel all over hell and gone. And, on top of it, the team has been coached by long time Montana Road Race (4-time Gov's Cup Marathon Champ among his accomplishments)
But, that tide has begun to turn over the last few years. We now have XC programs at Rocky Mountain College (Alan King - coach), Carrol College and the University of Great Falls. And, on top of it all, MSU-B has brought their track program back to life and are ready to have their first meet of the year this coming weekend.
The addition of XC (and track) at these schools really has the potential to provide the impetus for athletes to stay with the sport after High School. And, hopefully they find their passion for the sport and continue to run and compete (and hopefully stay in Montana) post collegiately. We need to continue to have an infusion of young blood into the sport to keep it young, fresh and competitive.
We need to do our part by supporting all of these in-state programs. Several of them have benefit runs. Keep your eyes on www.runmt.com to see when these races are going to occur; and, if you're able to make it - do the right thing and participate in the event. The funds raised by these runs help these programs to do some of the little extras for their athletes. If you can't make the race, feel free to enter anyway. The $15 or $20 will still go to the program and every little bit helps.
Do your part, support the home teams. We're all in this together.
See you on the roads, tracks and trails.