When Christina Aragon has a goal in mind, the rest of the field should watch out.
The Billings Senior sophomore set a career best time of 17:18.4 as she raced to the girls individual title at the Billings Invitational cross country meet Saturday at Riverfront Park.
Going into the meet, Aragon said her goal was to finish in 17:15. Although she fell just short of that time, a pleased Aragon didn't mind too much at the finish line.
"I am definitely happy. It is still a P.R.," she said, noting her previous personal record time was the 17:29.95 she clocked in a second-place finish at the prestigious Mountain West Classic last weekend in Missoula.
Senior coach Sarah Lord said Aragon's time is believed to be the new school record. Aragon's past two race times eclipse the previous mark set by older sister Dani, now competing at Notre Dame, of 17:30 in 2010, also at Riverfront.
The 17:18.4 is also the second fastest girls time at Riverfront since 1993 said Lord. The fastest time in that period is the 17:17 ran by Heidi Lane of Great Falls CMR in 2001.
"It was really impressive," Lord said of Aragon's race.
The boys winner was Brody Smith of Cody, Wyo., with a time of 15:06.8. Laurel's Tyler Mogan, who was sixth at the Mountain West and won the season-opening Billings Invite, was second in 15:11.6 and Cody's Devyn Brotherton third in 15:27.5. West's Mark Hovland was fourth and Colstrip's Tyus Mendoza fifth.
"I've heard his name before and I knew there would be good competition and I'd have a target in this race," Smith said of Mogan.
Smith, who is a sophomore at Cody, said he finished fourth at the State 3A meet in Wyoming a year ago. In Wyoming, a 5K (3.1 miles) race is contested in cross country, while in Montana the distance is three miles. Smith said typically one adds 30 seconds to their three-mile time to get a 5K equivalent. The corresponding time of 15:36.8 would put him in the top two in all classes for Wyoming Smith said.
"That just raised my confidence 1,000 times," he said. "I couldn't be happier right now."
Finishing second in the girls race was Anne Brinegar of Cody, Wyo., with a 17:50.6. Jocelyn Elorriaga of Senior was third in 18:04.6. A pair of Billings Skyview Falcons placed fourth and fifth, with Keegan Day and Amanda Nelson rounding out the top five.
Aragon said the key to her finish was withstanding the adrenaline and jitters at the start of the race and establishing a pace. When she crossed the chute for the first time -- all by herself -- 11:16 had gone by. The presence of Brinegar didn't hurt, as it motivated Aragon to "make a little space" between the two.
"The girl from Cody is really good and I could still hear her behind me," Aragon said. "She pushed me."
While Aragon has swept the two Billings Invite titles, Smith said he has won "three or four" meets this year. "I haven't really counted. I'll have to do that," he said.
The West boys won the meet with 71 points, while Senior came in second with 90 and Hardin third with 118. Laurel was fourth and Red Lodge claimed fifth.
"Our boys won, which was exciting," Bears coach Lauren Zent said. "Our whole varsity boys ran personal best times and all of our varsity girls did, too."
Zent said the Bears battled through a hard week of practice featuring interval training and tempo runs, mixed with high-intensity work.
"They had a really hard week of practice, so that wasn't expected," Zent said of the personal best times. "But they had a great attitude and confidence from practice, so that helped them."
The Lady Broncs won the girls team title with 54 points. West was second with 63 and Cody third with 80. Billings Central was fourth and Skyview fifth.
"I was so pleased. They have been working really, really hard in practice and it is exciting that they are starting to see the payoff," Lord said of her girls.
Lord added that every Broncs varsity runner, boy or girl, recorded a PR at the meet.
Notes: The Billings Public Schools city meet is Tuesday, Oct. 15, at 3:30 p.m. at Riverfront. ... The Senior girls JV won the team race, while West was victorious on the boys side.