Even without a 2020 high school track and field season, the Harlowton-Ryegate boys knew they had a chance to do something special in 2021.
The Engineers have a team led by talented upperclassmen that placed at the 2019 State C meet. Those seniors, though, are supplemented by a strong group of underclassmen, as well.
“Basketball kids, football kids, stuff like that, be like, ‘If you want to take the next step in those things, you’ve got to be out for track,’ so we knew we were going to take a jump in some of that stuff," Harlowton-Ryegate head coach Jonathan Olsen said. "They’ve had really good attitudes, too, so there’s been a lot of them that have taken huge leaps this year that we didn’t really expect, so that’s been a nice surprise.”
“We’ve been always just trying to push ourselves harder and harder. Actually lately, a lot of people have been getting a lot of PR’s and steadily increasing, which has been good," said senior Jason Todhunter.
“I think we both knew that we couldn’t really take this one for granted. It was our last year," senior Ryan Fenley said. "Everyone has been working really, really hard in practice and stuff and that makes the season a lot more enjoyable I think.”
Fenley placed fourth in the 1,600-meter run in 2019 and Todhunter fourth in the javelin. Todhunter has Class C’s second-best toss this season and has qualified for the state meet, while Fenley is top four in Class C in four separate events - 800, 1,600, 3,200 and triple jump.
“In past years we really haven’t had all that much of a track team. It’s almost doubled in size since my sophomore year," Fenley said. "It’s really nice to have a lot of competition. Everybody works really hard so it pushes people to be better.
“Seeing someone that had thrown farther helped me push harder, but I don’t really look at it as that," Todhunter said. "I always just try to push myself. I’m competing against myself to throw farther.”
The Engineers’ hopes of a trophy at the state meet will depend heavily on the performances of their studs, but they’ve also got a pair of relay teams that would be in line to place as of now.
“Talk about the relays, there’s someone that’s going to take your spot if you’re not ready for that, so that’s been huge for both the boys and the girls relays," Olsen said. "Like you said at practice, pushing each other every day. There’s always someone right on your but. It’s been fun. Fun to watch them.”
The Engineers have won four State C track and field titles, with the last coming in 2009. Don’t rule out the possibility of more hardware headed up to Harlowton next month.