High School SportsHigh School Track and Field


Newest to Class AA, Bozeman Gallatin boys track team already back-to-back champs

Gallatin track and field 2024
Posted at 3:01 PM, May 31, 2024

BOZEMAN — Bozeman Gallatin opened its doors as a school four years ago. The first students to spend the entirety of their high school careers as Raptors will graduate this weekend.

There's no better way to cap off the time spent representing a high school than by stamping back-to-back state championships.

That is exactly what the Gallatin boys track and field team did in Great Falls last week.

"Co-champion isn’t as sweet at the champion," Raptors senior Ryan Nansel said with a smile. He's referring to last year, when Gallatin tied for the 2023 first-place team title with Helena Capital.

This year, Gallatin won it outright, accomplishing the impressive feat as the newest school to Class AA.

Gallatin track and field 2024
The Bozeman Gallatin boys track and field program pose with first-place team trophy in Great Falls on May 25, 2024.

"I think it’s definitely making a statement to the rest of the state," Raptors senior Lex Steckelberg said. "I don’t know what the records are, but I doubt that there’s another team that’s won a state championship that fast, especially two in a row."

"I guess just being the youngest program, and wanting to prove people wrong because everyone doesn’t want the co-champion to win again, but then to go out and win it outright which is pretty cool," Raptors senior Osker Patterson said.

This year, the team was leading from the front going into the final event, the 400-meter relay.

"We had a rough idea right before the four-by-four," Raptors senior Nash Coley explained. "The only way we wouldn’t win is if we got sixth or last. Going into the four-by-four, I just had a lot of hope, just really excited. It gave me an extra push to compete even harder."

Their 400-meter relay team set a meet record at divisionals the week prior with a time of 3:20.7. The Raptors won the Eastern AA team title for the second year in a row at the meet as well.

Osker Patterson
Osker Patterson anchors first-place finish for Gallatin at the Eastern AA Divisional track meet on May 18, 2024 at the Gallatin track and field complex. He and his teammates, Reid Bartholomew; Nash Coley; and Louis Kamps, set a meet record with a time of 3:20.70.

"That momentum was huge," Patterson explained of the boost winning divisionals gave the team going into state. "We definitely had that goal to win divisionals, but then to hoist that trophy up at the end and getting that meet for the four-by-four, just brought everyone together and made everyone realize that we do have a good shot at winning state again.”

"When we won by such a large margin I didn’t want to adjust a whole lot, so we did a lot of the same things at practice," Raptors coach Chantel Jaeger-Smith said. "We tried to keep routines pretty much the same, and yeah, just keeping the message the same."

Nash Coley Okser Patterson
Osker Patterson and Nash Coley pose with teammates and hoist the Eastern AA divisional first place trophy after the program won a back-to-back team title on Sat. May 18, 2024 at the Gallatin Track and Field Complex.

Gallatin has a strong culture surrounding the team-first mentality, which translates into each meet.

"They’ve meant a lot actually," Coley explained of the bond everyone on the team shares. "Just being able to compete together every weekend, sometimes twice a week, it’s just, you get to spend a lot of time with them. You learn about them, you just really connect during meets."

It's an attitude the team focused on more than ever this year.

"I think we all became better teammates, and cared more about each other, and picked each other up, especially when things got a little hard at certain meets or weather was bad," Steckelberg said. "I feel like we picked each other up a lot better than we have in the past."

To rise this quickly: two titles in four years — the team attributes the credit to one another.

"There’s a lot of coaches and great people in our sports programs that put a lot of effort into the programs, and they did such a great job developing them so early," Nansel said. "And we just did the best we can with our coaches. It’s very fun."