SEELEY LAKE — When COVID-19 shut down high school spring sports in Montana, Klaire Kovatch reached a realization.
A three-sport standout athlete at Seeley-Swan in volleyball, basketball and track and field, Kovatch's success in each sport would ultimately lead to the difficult decision of what sport she wanted to pursue after high school and which two were going to be left behind.
But after the spring season was canceled, Kovatch realized just how much track and field meant to her and how much of a hole was missing when she couldn't compete. So the senior decided track and field would be the sport she'd pursue, and, on Wednesday, she made that choice official.
Kovatch signed her letter of intent to compete for the Colorado State track and field program in the Mountain West Conference where she will continue on her already impressive prep career. Kovatch is the two-time defending Class C discus champion, having won as a freshman and sophomore in 2018 and 2019.
"I went into COVID early this spring not knowing which sport. It was a pretty good toss-up between volleyball and track," Kovatch told MTN Sports just before signing her letter of intent. "Missing my junior season made me realize how much I really missed competing in track, and I was also still being heavily recruited by track coaches during that time and so that really just put it in my mind that this is what I wanted to do, and so I started to really focus on which track schools I want to go to. So that was really how I made my decision was gut feeling."
Kovatch will be a thrower for the Rams' program and will compete in discus and javelin and is going to give her first shot with the hammer throw in outdoor track and field and the weight throw for indoors, adding that she's excited to give hammer and weight a shot for the first time.
"I chose Colorado State because I wanted to go to a school that was not super close to home but close enough my parents and other supporters can come watch me if they want to," Kovatch said. "I also chose it because I'm looking at studying a food science and human nutrition major and they have a really great program there, so it's something that if I want to go all the way in getting a master's or PhD, I am totally able to at Colorado State."
Kovatch also added that over the past year she built a good relationship with CSU's head track and field coach, Brian Bedard, who also coaches the throwers. From that communication, Kovatch felt like she found the place that suited her needs best to help her succeed. Academically, Kovatch found an interest in becoming a dietitian or nutritionist through athletics in monitoring how she ate while also competing.
Kovatch will be on a 70 percent athletic scholarship for the Rams. She said she chose CSU over an official offer from Montana State and was also in contact with schools like UCLA, South Dakota, Stanford and Montana State Billings.
Along with her success in discus, Kovatch is also a state champion on the track, having run a leg on Seeley-Swan's 4x400-relay team that took first in 2019. She was also part of the 4x100 team that took second that same season as the Seeley-Swan girls took home gold as a team in 2019, Kovatch's sophomore season.
"I remember first seeing her throw as an eighth grader and she had throws that were competitive in our State C, and then seeing her explode as a freshman and having really good throws as a sophomore, it's just really exciting to watch her compete," Seeley-Swan track and field coach Mike Haines said. "She's multi-talented and it's a pleasure to watch her compete and be a part of it."
Kovatch has been continuing to work out in the discus and for track and field despite the season getting canceled earlier in 2020. With eyes on her final basketball and track and field seasons in 2021, Kovatch has big goals she hopes to accomplish before she makes her way to Fort Collins, Colorado with hopes of breaking the all-class discus record of 157 feet, 0 inches, which was set by Missoula Big Sky's Brooke Kearns in 2018. Kovatch's personal best is 150-2, which she accomplished at the Western C divisional meet in 2019.
"It was a bummer last year not to have a chance at being a four-time state champion in discus, that's hard to swallow, but that would be my goal," Kovatch said. "I want to be Class C champion (again), but I also want to break the all-class record. I'm seven feet away and that's what I've been working towards and I would love to be that record holder."