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Mr. Consistent: Missoula Hellgate's Finneas Colescott channeling cross country momentum into track

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MISSOULA — His highs are never too high. His lows are never too low.

His head coach called him Missoula Hellgate's most consistent boys racer this track season.

Knights junior distance runner Finneas Colescott is enjoying a breakout spring after a breakout fall cross country season, with four marks in the mid-4-minute range in the 1,600-meter run and he went on a three-meet run of dropping his 3,200 time each week.

At Thursday's Greg Rice City Meet at Missoula County Stadium, Colescott may not have had his "best" day. But if a not-great day looks like the way his did, then he can't be too upset.

Colescott ran for second in the 1,600 in 4:27.95, keeping pace with eventual winner, Missoula Sentinel star and Minnesota-bound runner Tanner Klumph, who finished two seconds ahead. 

"Season after season, he's just made nice jumps," Hellgate distance track coach and head cross country coach Anders Brooker said during the meet. "He had a really consistent — not crazy — winter.

"He's been the most consistent racer on the boys side. I don't think he'll be happy with today but he still ran a 4:27; when you have an off day and you're still running that well that's when you know you're consistent. Nobody right now is working harder than he is and it is fun seeing that pay off for him."

His season-best in the 1,600 is a modest 4:22.76, which he did last week in Kalispell at Archie Roe, and his best in the 3,200 is a solid 9:32.70 at the Western Top 10 meet at MCPS a few weeks ago. Those marks are good for third and second in Class AA entering Thursday — Kalispell Glacier's Sam Ells entered the day with the top marks in both of the distance events.

It's safe to say he is feeling good about his standings in the state right now.

"I've been pretty happy with how I've been running," he said. "Now I'm just trying to race well and strategically to get ready for state."

Colescott took second at the State AA cross country meet this past fall in Missoula, a finish that helped his team knock off in-city rival Missoula Sentinel for the team title. He finished behind individual champion Klumph.

Colescott ended the cross country season on a roll with four second-place finishes, breaking the 16-minute mark twice during that run.

"I just wanted to keep up what I was doing rolling into the season and have a good track season," Colescott said of his goals heading into track. "Last year, my sophomore season, I didn't have a normal track season and it was all dual meets so this is my first real track season."

Now in track season, Colescott, who like many juniors had a missed 2020 season followed by an abridged 2021 that was left without many of the large invites that are the trademark of track, has a different way to look at things this time of year.

He is a bit more team-oriented during cross country season, when he is more aware of where his teammates are at during a race to keep the pack going as it needs to. Once track comes, he takes a bit more of a singular mindset — while still remembering the team goals at the end of the day.

Colescott said it might be a bit cliché, but he trusts the process. He trusts the miles and the work he puts in during the offseason and during meets and practice.

"Over the winter it's hard to keep up training and we don't do really any winter races or anything," he said. "Sometimes it's hard to know where you are at fitness wise or how everything is coming in. It's important to just trust the process, I guess. Trusting your fitness and trusting the work you put in."

By trusting that work, continuing to get high marks, Brooker sees Colescott's confidence grow each meet and each high finish.

From Colescott's rise during cross country, to his ascent during track, the growth has been a joy to watch for his coach.

"The way he was able to finish the cross season, stay consistent this winter and just continue to build confidence, that's what's been the most fun," Brooker said. "To see his confidence get better and better."

Lance Hartzler covers Griz men's basketball and prep sports for the Missoulian. Follow him on Twitter at @lance_hartz or shoot him an email at Lance.Hartzler@406mtsports.com.

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