MISSOULA – Entering the Class AA state track and field meet, Jake Perrin had an extraordinary goal in mind.
The Kalispell Flathead senior aimed to become the first high schooler to run the 3,200-meter race in under nine minutes on Montana soil. If he got there, Helena High’s Aidan Reed was going to help him.
“At the mile mark, when they said 4:36, I kind of already lost hope,” Perrin said Saturday. “But Aidan was pushing the pace the whole time, and I’m really happy that he did. If he had dropped off, I probably wouldn’t have run as fast as I did. He pushed the pace the whole time.”
During the two-day event that saw Class AA and C athletes combine to break 16 records and tie another, the 3,200 might have been the most impressive race the thousands of fans in attendance witnessed. Both Perrin and Reed broke the previous state record of 9:12.38 set by Missoula Hellgate’s Adam Peterman in 2013, but they were a few strides short of hitting Perrin’s goal.
Perrin, who will run collegiately at Gonzaga, crossed the finish line 9:04.35. Reed, who is headed to Southern Utah, was just behind at 9:06.31.
“(Reed) always has a pretty crazy race strategy, yet I never quite know what it is for sure,” Perrin said. “There’s always a point, like at 1,000 meters left or 800 meters left, where the pace is going to start picking up with him. I’m glad he does it, though, because it makes everybody run a faster time.”
Perrin and Reed set out to a comfortable speed through the first half of the race, but – hearing the 4:36 split for those four laps – increased to a seemingly unsustainable pace for the second half. They went stride for stride, exchanging small leads going into the final lap.
With about 250 meters to go, Perrin passed Reed for the final time and sprinted down an excruciating backstretch to a thunderous applause from the crowd. Reed crossed the line just behind Perrin, his frail legs collapsing from exhaustion.
When the duo, made up of one of Montana’s best distance rivalries that’s more friendship than animus, took to the podium, Perrin had no bigger fan than Reed, who clapped and cheered when the public address announcer declared Perrin’s time and record.
“Sub 9:10 at last,” Reed posted on his Twitter account. “All the credit to Jake Perrin for his win. Proud we both went under the old MT record. Thanks to all for the support.”
Reed’s time was nearly an 11-second improvement over his time at the Arcadia Invitational in California earlier this spring, where many athletes record their best marks. But it will be Perrin’s name in the Montana High School Association record books.
He also set the record in the 1,600-meter run Friday with a time of 4:12.06, breaking the mark of former Flathead runner David Vidal.
“We have a lot of tradition on our team,” Perrin said. “There’s always going to be two or three guys that really push it in practice and are always trying to be better and be the best in the state.”
“I’m really happy with (the state meet),” he added. “It’s a great way to end my senior year, I think. I won cross country and then beating both state records here is pretty unreal. I’m pretty happy right now.”
Slim Kimmel, MTN Sports