Bill Roberts Golf Course hosts the Cascade Conference Cross-Country Championships on Friday in Helena.
Leah Esposito defends her Frontier cross-country title on Friday. Esposito’s quest for a third straight crown took a hit after a pulmonary emblazon forced the All-American to step away from competition.
“They thought I was going to be out for the whole season,” Esposito said.
Esposito missed a week of action, which sounds minor, but Carroll’s regular season only spans six weeks. When the senior returned, she gradually worked her way back into running shape.
“I slowly built up my mileage,” Esposito said. “I ran like one mile or two miles a day.”
Head coach David Morris worried about his star runner, but also how losing his captain would affect the team’s practice.
“She would show up when the team showed up,” Morris said. “She was still a leader.”
On the men’s side, Chance Hyatt looks to climb to the top step on the podium. The junior finished fourth last year. This year, many consider him the front-runner, but he is more concerned about the team.
“If I win the race, I win the race,” Hyatt said.
The junior’s biggest competition comes from Rocky Mountains Ben Koech. The conference foes split four matchups this season. Hyatt feels the rivalry makes them better.
“It really helps,” Hyatt said.
Coach Morris thinks Hyatt’s three-year development serves him well on the course.
“He’s gotten to the point where he can run with anybody in the nation,” Morris said.
After conference, Esposito and Hyatt hope to qualify for Nationals in Elsah, Ill. on Nov. 19.