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The race moves through the first lap, heading toward the end of the golf course while a coach encourages his athletes to move forward in the race.

It was a cold and cloudy afternoon for the teams racing at the Montana Invitational on Friday, Oct. 4 at the University of Montana Golf Course. But that didn't stop the men’s and women’s UM cross country teams from taking first place.

Teams from Montana State, Walla Walla, Carroll, and Western all participated in races on Friday. For Griz fans, the men’s 8-kilometer race was successful as UM took first place overall, with five runners finishing in the top eight spots. Throughout the race, the men’s team ran in a tight unit, making sure no runner started slipping behind or pushing too hard.

“Working as a group actually ended up doing really well because we were able to push each other throughout the race,” said junior Kyle Peterson.

Senior June Eastwood, freshman Beatrix Frissell and three others led UM to victory in the women’s 6-kilometer race. The top five finishers were all Griz runners. So far this year, Eastwood and Frissell have finished in the top 10 in every meet in which they have competed.

“It feels really nice having each other there to push one another. Like that last mile I wouldn’t have pushed as hard, but June went out there and pushed me through it,” Frissell said. Eastwood is the first transgender runner to ever compete in Division I cross country.

After the successful meet, first-year coach Clint May praised the teams for supporting one another.

“It was really good, I was super happy the way they worked together, they were trying to run their best but they were using the energy of each other really well,” May said.

The team practices as a tight-knit family in which different groups run together to maintain extra motivation and fitness. As the year continues, May plans to keep practicing the same way, at least until he starts to see more progress from his training and runners are able to pull away with ease.

The team's road ahead includes the Bronco Invitational at Sunnyvale, California on Saturday, Oct. 19. After that, the team is headed to the Big Sky Conference Championship and NCAA Mountain Regional.