BILLINGS — When Brooke Reuter crossed the finish line to clinch her second consecutive Class C 100 meters title last May in Great Falls — after some tense moments waiting for officials to determine the winner of what was an extraordinarily close race — she wanted to elicit just one emotion.
A stream of tears.
Sure, it was the second time the Savage High School sprinter had won gold in that particular event, but this time was much different.
“That was a true blessing. I really had a rough day that day,” Reuter, now a junior, recounted to MTN Sports during a phone conversation. “That morning I woke up puking. By the time I got to the 100 I had thrown up 10 or 15 times.
“I don’t know what was going on. It was a repeated process. It was not a good day. I think the day before I didn’t hydrate myself in the best way. But it turned out great; and it was a really close race.”
With a 12.70 clocking, Reuter nudged Manhattan Christian’s Jayden VanDyken at the line by three-hundredths of a second. Reuter was unable to keep her emotions concealed, and it helped salvage what was an arduous final day of her sophomore season.
But it wasn't all celebratory. Reuter was edged by VanDyken in the 200 finals by four-hundredths of a second, which kept her from a repeat in that event. She finished third in the 400 meters — VanDyken won that as well — a year after placing second.
Reuter also was forced to scratch from the triple jump (in which she placed fourth the year prior) and took fifth in the long jump. Savage’s 1,600-meter relay team, anchored by Reuter, took sixth.
Entering Tuesday Reuter and Savage had been able to participate in only three meets this season, and with their home track submerged by water for much of the spring it has taken a toll on Reuter’s ability to find her midseason form. Running in the school hallways doesn't quite cut it.
Still, Reuter has qualified for state in the 100 (12.75), 200 (27.01), long jump (16-4½) and triple jump (34-6¼) and has ample time to do so in the 400 and both relay events. Savage is scheduled to appear at an invitational in Lambert on Wednesday prior to the annual Glendive Elks Invitational on Saturday.
“There’s not a whole lot you can do inside,” Reuter said. “I think the three meets we’ve had we’ve gotten kind of lucky with the weather, so that’s been nice.
“I’ve definitely had to push harder in practice, and any meet you get you have to go at it 100% because you don’t know when another one is going to happen. You just have to have that mindset.”
Reuter began competing in track and field in fifth grade and has kept to the same events ever since, the sprints and jumps. Her freshman year — in which she won state in the 100 and 200 and brought home five total medals — made her a breakout athlete, especially in eastern Montana.
Last season confirmed her ability, even if it did result in such highs and lows at the end. Reuter’s untimely sickness couldn’t derail her repeat bid in the 100, but other potential accomplishments were left on the table.
This year Reuter said she’s focused on “mental toughness and keeping myself hydrated and keeping tabs on that so I don't have a repeat of last year and knowing that it's OK if you don’t win every time. It’s OK to take second. You don’t need all that pressure.”
In a school with roughly 20 students, Reuter has long since set Savage’s girls sprinting records. But like any medal contender she has kept an eye on the various times that have been trickling in across the state, including those of VanDyken, a Manhattan Christian senior who currently owns Class C’s top marks in the 100 (12.72), 200 (26.39) and triple jump (35-4).
Others of note include Seeley-Swan jumper Emily Maughan and Roberts jack-of-all-trades Taylee Chirrick, who transferred from Class AA Billings West prior to this academic year. One of Reuter’s teammates, sophomore Cambry Conradsen, has also improved her times from last season.
The Class C state meet, paired with Class A this year, will be held May 26-27 in Laurel. After the emotional wave she experienced at the end of last season, Reuter is focusing on the good, not the bad. Being the two-time defending champion in the 100 is a title she's not ready to let go of.
“I won the race. And for that day,” Reuter said, “it was a really big high.”
Maybe this year will produce more tears of joy.