GREAT FALLS -- After leaping over a year’s worth of COVID-19 related hurdles, the spring sports season is off and running. And at Great Falls CMR - the start of practice wasn’t a moment too soon.
“It felt good because we got a weekend last year and then all of a sudden we got shut down and we were in a holding pattern for a long time before they finally gave us the word that there was going to be no season,” said Rustlers head coach Burke Alen. “And to go through some pre-season with these kids and then finally see them get to practice. They're chomping at the bit. And a lot of us were really excited around here right now to get track going again.”
The year without competition certainly changed the way the Rustlers are approaching this season. For many of the younger athletes, the first year of track is vital to growth and development in their events.
“Yeah, that's the hard part. Those freshmen from last year, they never got a season and the freshmen coming in, they never got an eighth grade season,” Allen said. “And so it's a development year for a lot of those young kids, but we do have some good returning talent that I think pick up where they left off. It's going to be a little bit to get them back, but ultimately we’re excited to see where they're at and get some competition in.”
Allen points to several upperclassmen who he looks to make a difference, compete at a high level and help bring their younger counterparts along.
“I think Anthony Roddens is going to have a good year, and we’re gonna look to Anna Broquist to be a leader for us, especially over in the jumps,” Allen said. “Logan Corn - I'm excited about him in the throws, and Tennises Hiller will also have a good year. Andrew Denegar I think will do well in the distance event. So, there's a few that we have high expectations of, and I think it's gonna be fun.”
And the senior leaders are embracing their expanded and important role.
“I was always super close with upperclassmen from when I was a freshmen and a sophomore, just starting to get to know track,” Broquist said. “Because I didn't do it in middle school. And so it's always super important to have good role models and people that show you the ropes of everything.
At the Class AA level - there will be no invites or opens, just dual meets with seven currently on the schedule. The postseason format is still yet to be determined. But to the athletes, competition is competition no matter what form it takes.
“I brought as many people as I could to open gyms, trying to get them to get everything down,” Roddens said. “It's been fun and I was kind of sad we didn't have a year last year. So it's been a couple of years since I've actually ran, but I am looking forward to it. See what we bring to the table.”
The Rustlers will open their season with a home dual meet on April 2nd against Belgrade.