BOZEMAN – Throughout it’s history, the Bozeman track team has been known for producing some of the fastest distance runners in Montana. Now, two members of the current Hawks squad are preparing to add their own chapters to the program’s storied history.
All spring, senior Chase Equall and junior Camila Noe have been Bozeman’s best, most consistent runners in the individual 1,600- and 3,200-meter events. It is because of their consistency that they are leading contenders for individual Class AA state titles. Of course, those types of expectations add an extra layer of pressure. Fortunately for Bozeman, Equall and Noe have turned a potential weakness into an advantage.
“They (Equall and Noe) are very similar because they push themselves so hard that they don’t really get impacted by what’s going on around them, even the pressure,” said Bozeman head track coach Eric Fisher. “Whether somebody else is trying to push the pace or sit back and wait to make a late push, they stay focused on what they need to do.”
While their recent results have been comparable, their paths to achieve them haven’t been. Equall’s progression has been more traditional. Last season, he captured second place in the 1,600-meter event (4 minutes, 13.59 seconds) and a third-place finish in the 3,200-meter event (9 minutes, 13.40 seconds) at the AA state finals.
This season, his times have been even better. At the Arcadia Invitational in California, Equall’s time of 8 minutes, 57.62 seconds in the 3,200-meter run was a personal-best and the fastest mark in the event by any Montana runner in 2017 by a healthy margin. Equall also set a personal-best in the 1,600-meter run at the Midland Roundtable Top 10 (4 minutes, 15.76 seconds), but lost to Billings Senior’s Dawson LaRance by a fraction of second.
“For me, I don’t think the pressure changes the better I run,” Equall said. “I don’t think there’s much of a secret to it, me and my teammates have just been plugging away at this for a while.”
Noe’s ascent has occurred over a much shorter period of time. Her sophomore fall was the first time she’d ever run distance events. And after just four seasons, two of cross country and now two of track, she has become one of the best distance runners in the state. She’s also become an integral cog of a group that could bring home the girls’ AA team championship.
“I needed to get as much experience as I could and really learn how to run in events,” Noe said. “Each time I competed, I built on what I had done before. It was stressful at first, but I had a lot of help from my coaches and teammates.”
So, how far has she come?
At the 2016 AA state finals, Noe placed a respectable sixth in the 3,200-meter race, but didn’t place at all in the 1,600-meter race. In 2017, she’s consistently placed in the top three in both events. That includes a first-place finish in the 3,200-meter run (11 minutes 02.09 seconds) and a second-place finish in the 1,600-meter run (5 minutes, 7.09 seconds) at the Great Falls Optimist Club Invitational, the only event of the regular season where all 14 AA girls teams compete.
“She is insatiable in a good way,” Fisher said. “She’ll run a PR (personal record) and she’ll come back the next and work on adjustments and tweaks that will make her better … and it’s only her second year of doing this.”
Heading into the 2017 AA state finals in Butte, the pair are riding a wave of positive momentum. Last weekend, at the Eastern AA divisional meet in Great Falls, Noe finished in first place in the 1,600-meter race and second in the 3,200-meter race. Equall, meanwhile, captured first place in both events.
“ … We’ve been really blessed to have a history of such a strong distance program and to be able to carry that on,” Fisher said. “Watching our team and also the two of them really go for it this weekend … they should be great races to watch.”