GREAT FALLS — Zoe Delaney said she was nervous entering her first career high school track meet, but, if that’s true, she certainly didn’t show it.
The swift Winnett-Grass Range freshman turned in an incredible debut Thursday at the Fairfield-Belt track invite in Great Falls winning the 100-, 200- and 400-meter races against some of the top competition in the state.
“Pretty happy,” she said. “Pretty proud and just excited to see what I can do in the future.”
Her coach was a little more effusive.
“I’ve never seen a sprinter at Winnett-Grass Range that has Zoe’s natural speed,” said Rams coach Leslie Iverson. “We actually think she didn’t come out of the blocks real great, so we feel like when we get that going she’s going to be doing all kinds of great things. I haven’t seen anybody in quite some time that is going to come in and sweep three events just like that.”
In the 100- and 200-meter runs, Delaney had a to hold off stiff challenges from Choteau seniors Payge and Payton Durocher, who are among the most accomplished sprinters in the state.
Payge is the defending Class B state champion in the 200-meter run, Payton finished second in the 400 last year and both have won three consecutive state titles as part of the Bulldogs’ 400-meter relay team.
“(Zoe) was always pretty dominant in junior high and we knew she was going to be really good,” Iverson said. “But when you come in here and beat some Class B state champions, that’s pretty exciting.”
“I had really good competition today,” Delaney added. “Payge was right there and she was what pushed me today.”
Delaney started running at an early age on her family ranch near Grass Range and took to sprinting quickly.
“I’ve been running every since I was 5 years old, I just love running,” said the freshman. “I did it when I was little and it cleared my head a lot.”
Her hand time in the 200-meter dash was 26 seconds flat, which would have beaten the Grass Range school record of 26.32 seconds set by Brittany Olson. Delaney’s official time was recorded at 27.06 seconds, which fell just short of the all-time mark.
Not bad for a debut.
“First meet of the year and you’re knocking on that door?” asked Iverson. “It’s going to happen.”
Delaney said she has her eyes set on Olson’s record in the 100 (12.4 seconds) and her sister Tiffany Olson’s school mark in the 400. And though she is just a freshman – her approach to competition says all you need to know about her focus.
“Right now, all I can do is look forward and see what I can do from there,” she said. “You’re either humbled by your losses or powered by your wins.”
No doubt there will be many more wins over the next four years.