Dylan Johnson was rewarded for a summer of hard work and Christina Aragon was crowned the new queen of Riverfront Park.
Aragon established a course-record time of 17:04.7 for three miles to win the girls race at the Billings Public Schools cross country meet on Tuesday. Johnson raced to victory in 15:24.7 to claim the first win of his high school career. Both runners attend Billings Senior.
The race ended the regular season for the three Billings public high schools, the only three teams to compete in the meet Tuesday. Next up is the state meet Oct. 26 at the University of Montana Golf Course in Missoula.
Aragon smashed the old course record of 17:17 ran by Heidi Lane of Great Falls CMR in 2001. Aragon, a sophomore, also bettered her own career-best, and school-record, time of 17:18.4 set at the Billings Invitational on Oct. 5.
"I felt pretty good," said Aragon, who is a perfect 3 for 3 in meets at Riverfront Park this fall. "It was a little chillier than it has been, but once you got in the sun it was nice.
"I felt pretty strong the first two miles. The last mile was harder, but I was trying to keep the pace I was at."
The Senior girls won the meet with 25 points. The Lady Falcons were second with 52 and West was third with 54. Skyview's Keegan Day was second in 18:05.0, with teammate Amanda Nelson just behind in 18:05.9. Lady Broncs Jocelyn Elorriaga and Elena Borges were fourth and fifth.
After she finished the race, Aragon stayed in the chute, cheering her teammates -- and members of opposing teams -- on. She said this year's Senior team has a bond.
"It is so nice to have the girls we have," Aragon said. "This year we have had some switching around in varsity. Instead of a group of seven or eight girls, it is 12 girls pushing each other to be better.
"It is awesome to see my teammates do so well."
In picking up his first victory since eighth grade at Riverside Middle School, an exhausted Johnson sat down and then sprawled out to relax and catch his breath seconds after finishing the race. West's Mark Hovland was second in 15:53.9, followed by his Golden Bear teammates Andrew McLane and Isaac Petsch. Senior's Carter Gall was the fifth boy to cross the finish line.
"It feels great. I am so proud," Johnson, a junior, said. "I worked really, really hard this summer and it paid off."
When they passed the chute for the first time, Hovland was barely leading Johnson.
"The second mile I really kicked it down and passed him," Johnson said of Hovland. "He helped me out. Hovland has beaten me by 10 or 20 seconds before, so I pulled this one out."
Johnson, who aims to finish in the top 15 at state, explained that it has been a goal of his since last year's city meet to win the race. In doing so Tuesday, Johnson set a lifetime personal record.
This past summer, Johnson attended a Team Prep USA distance camp on the campus of Western State College in Gunnison, Colo. Johnson said the camp lasted a full month and while there he stayed in the dorms. He met runners from all over the United States, Israel, Mexico and Hong Kong.
"It was a blast. We ran twice a day and met people from all around the world," Johnson said. "It was a great experience."
The West boys were meet champions with 25 points. Senior was second with 35 and Skyview had 69.