HAVRE — Fort Benton’s boys track and field athletes have had an outstanding season, and as the end of May draws near, state championship aspirations are getting closer to reality.
The Longhorn boys won the District 9C championship last week by more than 120 points, and at the Northern C divisional on Wednesday, they’ll bring in guys with the fastest 100-meter dash (William Ullery, 11.21 seconds), best long jump (Nick Marais, 22 feet, 4.5 inches), best triple jump (Hayden Diekhans, 44 feet, 9.5 inches) and best pole vault (Jace Thompson, 13 feet) marks in Class C so far. Diekhans' triple jump mark is the best in Montana, not just Class C.
They also have the two fastest relay teams and strong performers in the throws and middle-distance races. Add it all together, and the Longhorns have their eyes on a state championship.
"After the season getting canceled last year, we knew that we had a really good shot last year," Ullery said. "And it was a big bummer to kind of have that go out the window. So it's kind of a redemption ... this year trying to make our mark in history."
The Longhorn boys have four track and field state championships, all as a Class B school. The most recent was 2003, before these seniors were even in kindergarten. This group has made deep playoff runs in football and basketball the past two years, but a state championship has eluded them, and this is the last chance.
"That's all of our goals, so it means a lot to all of us," said Marais, a University of Montana commit. "I know the coaches are looking forward to it and all of our teammates are definitely looking forward to it as well. It means a lot to us. That's been a while since the Fort Benton boys have won a state track meet."
They feel lucky to have such a talented group, but it didn’t happen by accident. They’ve been intense competitors with each other for a long time and good friends.
"We've been competing with each other ever since we were little kids," Ullery said. "And to kind of get that group together and go from elementary school all the way to high school makes a big difference in small towns. You can get together and compete with each other each and every day and make each other better."
The Northern C divisional tournament kicks off on Wednesday morning at Memorial Stadium.