Aiden Reed is for real, will he be invited to NXN's or Foot Locker?

When Helena High distance runner Aidan Reed was a freshman, he started following the running achievements of Zach Perrin (Flathead), Adam Peterman (Missoula Hellgate) and Troy Fraley (Glacier).

Reed became so familiar with the trio, that in conversation he can list off each one of their greatest accomplishments -- including times for different races, state championships, national results, etc. -- by heart, including their current college exploits.

“I was inspired by what those three guys did,” related Reed, now a junior. “They set the bar high, that myself and others are now chasing to match, and even try to surpass.” 

Today, Reed continues that chase, at the State Cross Country Meet at Bill Roberts Golf Course.

And although he might be considered the prohibitive favorite in the Class AA race, the modest Bengal harrier is not taking anything for granted.

“My priority is to simply execute my race plan properly, and if I can do that, I have a good chance of winning,” articulated the soft-spoken Reed, when asked what his goal for state was.

Not that Reed hasn’t already experienced his share of cross country victories.

As a sophomore last year, he won six of eight races, including the prestigious Mountain West Classic in Missoula, and placed as the state runner-up.

This season, Reed enters state with six wins in seven races, the only blemish being a runner-up finish at the Mountain West, to a runner from Wyoming.

At the Butte Invitational three weeks ago, he became just the third Bengal to crack the 14-minute barrier in a 3-mile race, joining Craig Kockler (1988) and Joe Roberts (1991), while setting a new school record (over any course) of 14 minutes, 51.27 seconds.

Reed’s time was also nearly a second faster -- yes, he has that statistic memorized, also -- than Perrin’s 2012 clocking in the Butte race.

The following week, Reed captured the 7 of 7 title, breaking Roberts’ 1991 Helena mark on the BRGC of 15:07, with a time of 14:58.56.

His next closest AA competitor was Kade McCutcheon of Glacier, who took third, 41 seconds back at 15:39. And it’s McKutcheon whom he believes will be his biggest rival for the state title.

“I foresee Kade handing me the most competition (Saturday),” he said.

Reed, a native of Ethiopia, first started running at the age of 7, with his parents, while attending Broadwater Elementary School. The family participated in local road races and trail runs.

Three years later he became involved in triathlons, but after several years of competing in the event, he decided to concentrate on his favorite discipline -- running.

At the Helena Middle School, he ran cross country and track “recreationally,” but did not take up a concrete training regimen until getting to high school.

Reed trains year-round, running 6-7 days a week, between 20-50 miles per week. He takes a week off after cross country season and two weeks after track, “to reboot,” and every once in a while he’ll take an extra day off during training by “listening to his body.”

He also breaks the tedium by cross-training, including swimming, biking and weight-lifting.

During the school post seasons, Reed competes on a regional level in Idaho and California. He said his biggest highlights took place at “The Footlocker West and the NXN Northwest.”

HHS coach Kelley Gilbert has referred to his junior harrier as “One of Montana’s elite cross country runners.”

After Reed’s 7 of 7 championship in school record time, Gilbert noted that one of Reed’s strong suits is his finishing kick.

“Aidan has been working on his closing speed; he really believes in that,” the HHS skipper said.

And today, if Reed can “execute” his plan properly, he’ll become the first Bengal state champion since Matt Barker turned the trick in 2009; not to mention closing the gap on the exploits of Zach Perrin, Adam Peterman and Troy Fraley.

Question: How did you get to America, and how did you happen to end up in Helena, Montana?

Reed: I was an orphan in Ethiopia, and an adoption agency put me on a plane at 6 months old, when I was adopted by Drake Reed and Jolie Harris.

Question: Who has had the most influence on your running at the local level?

Reed: When I was a freshman it was senior captain Baird Lincke. His invaluable guidance and leadership kept me from making mistakes in races.

Question: Who is your favorite teacher, and in which class?

Answer: Mr. (Don) Pogreba in A.P. Language class.

Question: What are some of your hobbies, assuming you have time for hobbies?

Reed: I like to go for road rides or mountain biking, but usually if I’m not training, I’m either resting or doing homework.

Question: What will your Bengals need to do to achieve your goals at state?

Reed: It’s a matter of execution, team-wise, to run up to the level we’ve been training to run at. There are several teams that are just ahead of us, but our expectations are high.