Boys and Girls from Big Schools and Small. Coming from the North, South, East and West. Sprinter and Runners, Jumpers and Throwers. The Best of The Best have made it through Divisionals and are making the trek to Helena and Bozeman to see who will come out on top at the Montana High School Track and Field Championships.
All four of the meets (AA and C in Helena - A and B in Bozeman) will be be "action-packed" and full of drama, highs, lows and everything in between. Undoubtedly there will be exceptional performances by a host of athletes. But, it's always fun to predict what will happen. And, so, let me take a minute to add my prognostications to the list.
I think that there are a handful of events and athletes who have the potential to rise up and leave us breathless.
My first choice is the girls AA 800 and 1600 meter events. In both events we have Keli Dennehy of Butte, Alexa Aragon of Billings Senior and Elizabeth Spartas of Bozeman. In the 800 add Nicole Rietz of Billings West, Auriele Fain of Billings Senior and Chantelle Grey of Missoula Sentinel. In the 1600, throw in Heather Fraley of Kalispell Glacier and Heidi Turner of Bozeman.
If we get the perfect storm of cool, calm weather with athletes all peaking at the right time and what a sight it could be. Imagine 5 to 6 girls coming down the home stretch of each race running sub-2:15 in the 800 and sub-5:10 in the mile. State record on the line in the 800 and sub-5:00 in the mile? That would be so cool. To me, these have the potential to be the races of the weekend. I'm going to go out on the limb and pick Aragon to get both wins.
But, right behind them could be the boys A 800, 1600 and 3200. The field may not be quite as deep; but, the top end quality could be spectacular. The trio of Patrick Casey (Laurel), Drew Coco (Whitefish) and Logan Torgison (Polson) could have races that could closely resemble boxing matches with the winner being the last one standing.
They are all tough, gutsy runners who all have great racing instincts at their young ages. And they are all fast. Sub-2:00, low to sub-4:20's and around 9:40. Casey has been undefeated in Cross Country and Track this year, Coco seems to have reached another level this track season, and Torgison takes his scrappy, wrestling persona onto the track and keeps on punching away until he breaks the opposition. If the world was fair, I would like to see all three races be fast and close, with each walking away with a win. But, the world ain't fair and I think that they'll all be fast and close and I predict Torgi takes the 800 and Casey gets the 1,600 and 3,200. (And will Casey add the 400 (he ran 51.67 at Divisionals) to the mix to try to help his team win the state title?)
Now, who will post the big individual performances:
Caitlan Stone of Seeley Swan goes sub-5:00 in the 1,600 and sub-10:45 in the 3,200.
Brian Schenevar of Thompson Falls gets a new Class B record in the pole vault and clears 15'.
Kourtney Danreuther of Big Sandy has THE performance of all the meets and breaks Julie Browns 35 year old 800 meter record and runs sub-2:10.
Depending on what events she decides to run, Alexa Aragon could have a monster weekend. In adition to my predictions about her winning the 800 and 1600, she is also a potential top 3 placer (possibly winning) in the 3,200, has qualified in the 400 with a 58+, and has one of the top girls pole vaults.
Can Tyzer Cady of Colstrip pull off a 3-win weekend (100, 200, 400) after winning all 3 at Divisionals. More importantly, can he get the 100 record of 10.74?
Can any boys pop off a 200' javelin throw? Aaron Palmer of Troy has been close a couple of times.
Will the Billings West girls 4 X 100 team put it all together to get a state record in the short relay?
Can Harrison's super frosh Shannon Young win the 3 longest races?
Will Bozeman's Alex Brekke overcome the great season that Sentinel's Robbie Brooks is having and add the 1600 and 3200 wins to go with his shocking win at State XC last fall?
Can Dalton Sybrant of Covallis set a new B mark in the discus and overcome the disappointment of having a no mark in the Shot Put?
It should be a great weekend. If you can make it to either of the meets, I encourage you to attend at least some of the events and see the best that our fine state has to offer in youth athletics.
See you on the roads, tracks and trails.