Isaac Petsch followed in his brother's footsteps Tuesday afternoon at the annual Billings Public Schools City Meet at Riverfront Park.
While Petsch was feeling satisfied after earning his first career cross country win, Billings Senior's Christina Aragon got back on track and earned her third straight BPS City Meet title.
In claiming the victory, Petsch crossed the finish line in a career personal-best time of 15:51.96. Senior's Carter Gall was second in 15:56.41 and fellow Bronc Dylan Johnson, who won this race last year, third in 15:57.03.
Petsch, a senior at Billings West, has been a member of the cross country team for four years and ran varsity the past three. He said his best finish in cross country was fourth at last year's City Meet. While relishing the victory, Petsch joined his older brother Fred — currently a runner at Rocky Mountain College — as winners of the City Meet. Fred Petsch won the boys race in 2012 in 15:45.
It turns out Fred was in attendance cheering Isaac on.
“He gave me some good advice before the race and during, which helped a lot,” said Isaac, who hopes to compete in cross country and track and field next year in college.
Isaac Petsch said his brother told him, “It’s all mental. I can go faster. The pain is all in my head and to stay mentally strong.”
The last 800 meters is where Petsch took control of the race.
“I really pushed it and some great runners from Senior were pushing me and I went out and gave it all I had,” he said.
“I was running with the leaders the whole race and the last 800, I broke off.”
The Broncs' Peder Rickbeil was fourth in 16:00.58 and teammate Anthony Overcast fifth in 16:18.72. Senior won the team title with 22 points, West was second with 48 and Billings Skyview third with 57.
Aragon won the City Meet for the third straight season, leading the Broncs to a first-place team finish with 25 points. Skyview was second with 50 and West had 57.
While her 17:19.08 was 10 seconds off her season-best set at the first meet of the year at Riverfront, Aragon was happy to be back in victory lane. At the 7-on-7 meet in Helena last week the defending State AA champion started the race but did not finish because she was feeling ill.
“I actually felt really good and stayed positive,” Aragon, a junior, said. “I’ve had some tough races this season.
“I’ve struggled a little bit and wanted to keep positive. I didn’t want to worry about the things I was unhappy about.”
A pair of Falcons finished 2-3 as Amanda Nelson clocked a 17:30.16 and Keegan Day had a 18:42.72. Senior runners Jessica Raty and Courtney Hutton rounded out the top five.
Nelson was slightly ahead of Aragon the first time the runners passed the chute, but Aragon pulled away in the last quarter mile. Aragon has won three races this season, all of which have occurred in the Magic City. She said as the state meet approaches Oct. 25 at Bill Roberts Golf Course in Helena she believes she’s “over the hump,” will remain positive and enter the race with a “clear mind.”
Some of the runners to watch for at Bill Roberts are Nelson, Piper Meuwissen of Bozeman, Samantha Sayer of Hellgate, Miranda Foster of Hellgate, Sabrina Sterbis of Missoula Big Sky and Annie Hill of Kalispell Glacier.
“There are a lot of girls up there this year,” Aragon said of who could win a state title. “Honestly, I hope we all push each other and whoever wins we all run fast times.”