HELENA — Author John Maxwell said consistency is the key to success. Helena Capital hurdler Merek Mihelish has been an example of that philosophy.
Mihelish, a sophomore, currently ranks No. 1 in the state — regardless of class — in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles entering this week's Western AA divisional track and field meet in Helena. He holds PRs of 14.43 in the 110 and 38.59 in the 300.
“It feels good but you've got to keep in the back of your head that it’s not finished yet," Mihelish said.
When asked about Mihelish's future goals, longtime Bruins coach Lon Carter chuckled before responding, "I don't know, but the kid he’s chasing is 14.21 (in the 110 hurdles) and he ran for us. The record is still going to stay at Capital High School, because there’s only one track meet this spring, state track . That’s what we’re after.”
Carter was referring to former Bruins standout Matt Larson, who set the Class AA record in the 110 hurdles (14.21) in 2002. The 300 hurdle mark is owned by Jake Larson (no relation) of Butte High, which was set at 37.66 in 2000.
Mihelish says he has several goals for the remainder of this season.
"What I’m trying to do this year is contribute to bring home a team title, because that’s the most important thing," he said. “Win state hopefully, possible set a couple records along the way, but I’d much rather bring home a team title. I think that’s just a lot cooler, because you are one big family at the end of the day, and that’s a good thing."
Mihelish credits his coaches, not the least of which is Carter, who has been a major part of his overall success.
“If Merek could run seven events, he would. But we will not allow that because he is too good of a talent to take a chance on, so we try to limit what he can or cannot do. He is a multi-talented athlete, and he can do an awful lot of things, we don’t want to overuse him," Carter said.
Carter has been coaching track and field for 60 years in or around the Helena area.
“Our kids have a lot to give, but we're so careful with them now, if we can just keep the warm weather and keep working like we are and stay away from that injury bug, we’re going to be a pretty good track team." he said.
Mihelish's grandfather ran hurdles years ago, but his father, Bruins head football coach Kyle Miheliesh, never ran track. Merek Mihelish discussed growing up alongside his Bruin teammates, such as Carter's grandson and current Capital sprinter Tom Carter.
“I think that’s a big thing, everyone supporting you," Mihelish said. "We’ve been growing up with each other, setting the expectations high, you know, you don’t want your friends to be beating you in everything.”
During the crosstown city meet earlier in May, Mihelish won another medal in the 110 hurdles and he plans to carry that momentum into state track at the end of the year in Butte.
"For sure, you want to keep piling up as many wins as you can get just to have confidence before the races, through the races and just for preparation," he said.
Early morning practices before school and summer workouts has helped Mihelish get to this point, but he still has work to do: “You can’t get cocky. My dad says it to me all the time, but I haven’t done anything yet, and that’s what I like to carry with me.”