EAST HELENA — At noon on Tuesday, the Townsend Bulldogs hosted the annual Broadwater Invite in East Helena to kick-start their 2023 campaign.
“Oh man, it feels good. First track meet of the year, I’m really excited. It’s really cold but, we’re pushing through today and we’re going to get good times anyway. Hopefully no injures today because it’s very probable in this weather if we don’t get a good warmup,” said Broadwater junior Havyn Vandenacre.
Fellow Bulldog and returning state champion, Dawson Sweat, told MTN about his “No-Sweat” plans for the final first meet of his high school career.
“Take practice very serious, it's always a fun time to be with your friends and be with a lot of people in track season but take practice seriously," said Sweat. "When it is time to work, go to work. In conditions like this you can get hurt so warmup and stretch.”
The senior who saw the podium twice last season at the Class B state meet by taking second place in the 300 meter hurdles and third in the 100 meter race has high hopes for this year.
“Just to really enjoy the season and I mean, take it all in. It’s the last go at it,” mentioned Sweat.
The Townsend Bulldogs have hosted their home meets in East Helena for the previous three seasons.
“It’s really fun, we actually have a dirt track (in Townsend) so, I don’t think we would like to have a track meet on our dirt track. So, it’s really nice for East Helena to let us use their facility, and their field, so we are very grateful for that,” remarked Vandenacre.
Even though they have to head west on Highway 12 to get there, they feel right at home, says Three Forks senior Brielle Davis.
“The one thing that our head coach has really been pushing on us is family, this year," Davis said. "I think that’s really important. When you come out here, your team is your family, you need to help support them in any way, shape or form.”
Davis spoke to MTN about how imperative it is to wear layers, gloves, hand warmers, basically anything to keep you warm and ready. Davis who ranked second at state last year in the javelin also runs the mile.
Her teammate, and sophomore foreign exchange student, Marcos Cerro, says it’s much different from the weather in Spain.
“It’s actually my first year, but, people are telling me just to like, put a sweatshirt under my jersey, because I just came here with just my jersey, and it’s going to be so much harder because it is so cold. So yeah, let’s see how that goes,” joked Cerro.
They sighed when asked about preparing for the first real meet of the season.
“Oh yeah, I mean, of course its Montana and the weather is always crazy, but you know, you never know when you’re going to get snow,” voiced Davis.
Track marshal and Broadwater head coach, Travis Rauh, has been coaching the Bulldogs for 23 seasons.
“When I first took the program over, especially our boys side, there was really not a lot of kids enthusiastic about running but over the years, it’s kind of gotten stronger and stronger and the kids are great teammates to each other. Our numbers have grown and obviously, our competitive level has improved as well,” noted Rauh.
He declared, spring or not, his team knows exactly where they’re at and weather can’t become a distraction.
“We have had great kids here forever and I’m very pleased with the leadership we have in our upper classmen," he said.
Sweat spoke about how excited he is to end his career as a Townsend Bulldog alongside his teammates he's been around for over four years now.
“You know the preseason practicing for three, four weeks, we’re pretty much practicing in the same weather, so we’re coping with it,” he said. “It’s kind of the same thing, wherever we are, I am ready to compete and so is my team.”
East Helena freshman, Conner Haines, commented on how lucky they are to have this meet at home.
“We take it as a gift, because we get to be here at home, not traveling," Haines said. "Other than that, we’re just thankful to have it here.”