DILLON — Bursts of biting wind gusted across the field at Vigilante Stadium, but first-year Dillon track and field coach Jeremy Anderson was just glad to see his team practicing.
"I just feel fortunate," said Anderson, who took over the Beavers' program after Tammi Myers stepped down in 2020. "These kids are excited. A lot of them have waited two years to have this moment and have this opportunity to compete.
"To see them coming out here each and every day, wanting to improve, wanting to get better in the sport they love, pretty gratifying to get that opportunity."
With last year's spring season nixed, the Dillon boys are heading into April as defending Class A champions, a title they share with Laurel, though not in the way everyone became familiar with during the 2020 state basketball tournaments.
The Beavers and Locomotives finished in an exceedingly rare dead heat at the 2019 Class A meet with each team collecting an even 81 points. According to the Montana High School Association record book, that is only the second time that's happened at the boys state meet in any classification, with the last one occurring in 2012 as Charlo and Darby shared the Class C crown.
This squad looks a lot different than the 2019 team, which was powered to its title by winning performances from seniors Dylan Cervelli (400-meter run), Alfred Peterson (high jump) and Zane Johnson (long jump, triple jump).
Still, Anderson believes this team has the potential to continue that success.
"That was a special year back in 2019," Anderson said. "And the nice thing is we've got six of those kids that were part of that team and know what work they have to put in to make a championship-type team."
Anderson got his first true look at his team this past Saturday at the Gene Hughes Invitational in Corvallis. The Dillon boys had plenty of placers, including a first-place finish from Daxon Graham in the 300-meter hurdles and a winning throw from Cole Truman in the javelin.
But it was the Dillon girls, 2019's state runner-up, that truly stood out as the Beavers seized a first-place team finish at the Gene Hughes Invitational. Ainsley Shipman -- the defending state medalist in the 100 and 300 hurdles -- won the triple jump, Lauryn Petersen and Quincee Anderson placed first and second in the 300 hurdles, and Dillon took home first in the 400 relay.
Whether on the boys or girls team, Anderson believes he has a lot of talent.
"I was really excited with what I saw," Anderson said. "For them to go out and so some of the things they did this weekend was really special."