BUTTE — The drama couldn't stack up any higher.
Heading into the 1,600-relay on Saturday at the State AA track and field meet at Memorial Stadium, Helena Capital held a 10-point lead over Bozeman Gallatin for the team title on the boys side.
The Raptors sport an all-class relay squad, but Capital needed to just place in the event to hold off Gallatin. But on a weekend in a meet where wackiness was aplenty — especially from the weather — the oddball scenario and last-second comeback was destined to unfold.
Gallatin wound up winning the 1,600-relay as they edged out Missoula Sentinel, and Capital took eighth and just missed placing, meaning the Raptors and Bruins each scored 63 points and the teams ended up sharing the state title as co-state champions.
Garrett Dahlke ran the anchor leg for the Raptors, and said the team knew where they stood heading into the race, and had to give it their all to get that state title.
"Just to win it," Dahlke said when he got the handoff. "At the end of the day just going to do anything it took to win it. I don't even know what my split was, it could've been slow, but I was just going to wait for him to go and then just outfight them at the end. Some fast kids running anchor legs so I knew my work was cut out for me.
"We knew we had to get 10. And at the end of the day that's all we could have controlled was us going out and winning it. (It's) super special. Obviously we didn't want to be co-champions but at the end of the day that's still first place and everyone participated in this win. Whether it was the JV kids in practice everyday or the kids out here. It's really a whole team deal."
Kalispell Glacier rounded out the top three with 52 points to take third.
In the girls meet, Helena High completed their bid for back-to-back state championships, with theirs coming on the backs of the Todorovich sisters who turned Memorial Stadium into their own personal playground.
Logan Todorovich — the junior who set a new all-class record in the girls long jump on Friday — added a second title on the weekend with a win in the 100 hurdles on Saturday. Her younger sister Madilyn, a sophomore, won the high jump on Friday then picked up a victory in the 300 hurdles on Saturday. Madilyn also took second in the 200 and both sisters ran legs on both relays that placed as well. Madilyn added a third-place finish in the 400 on Friday as well while teammate Hazel Bishop won the event.
"I was pretty excited, I would never say I love the 300 hurdles but it's always finishing across that line and knowing you won," Madilyn Todorovich said. "I think there was a mix of going in with confidence and still being nervous and also I was pretty excited.
"I think it's really fun and I'm always proud of my sister to see what she accomplishes as well."
Helena High finished with 114 points while Gallatin was second with 70 and Missoula Hellgate was third with 68.5.
For the Capital boys, they put together a team effort to get the co-championship with Gallatin. The Bruin boys didn't have an individual state champion, but had plenty of all-state performances.
Sprinter and future MSU football player Tom Carter took third and fifth in the 100 and 200, respectively, and also ran a leg on Capital's second-place 400-relay team. Barrett Hageman added a second-place finish on Friday in the shot put and was fourth in discus on Saturday. Hurdler Merek Mihelish was second in the 110 hurdles and third in the 300 hurdles to score big points for the Bruins.
"It's awesome, it's a great feeling," Carter said. "Didn't get the individual titles but this is way more satisfying than anything I'd ever imagined. We got football and track now. We got it done in the end. No one expected us to be in this position at the start of the season and we did it.
"It means everything because we know how hard these guys work day in and day out and it's really satisfying to get it done."
Not to be outdone was Bozeman's Weston Brown, who made sure to knock off an all-class record himself on Saturday. Brown won the 1,600 in 4 minutes, 10.68 seconds which broke the previous record of 4:12.06 which was set by Kalispell Flathead's Jake Perrin in 2016.
The race was not without controversy. Brown's teammate, Nathan Neil, finished the race in second at 4:11.71 which also would've been faster than the all-class record. However, Neil was ultimately disqualified by officials after it was determined heading into the final lap that he didn't give Great Falls runner Ryan Harrington enough space before moving in front of him, which caused Harrington to stumble and put his hands on Neil to stop himself from falling.
According to a meet official, a runner has to be a full stride ahead of the other competitor before moving in front of them. A full stride is deemed to be nine feet.
While it left a sour taste for Bozeman High and its runners, Brown's accomplishment was not to be understated as the Princeton-bound runner completed state with a pair of titles to close out his high school career.
"First of all, the state championship was the goal, the record came second. I was fighting for the state championship no matter what but the record was definitely a bonus," Brown said. "It's incredible and I think my record is awesome but I have no doubt that it'll be pretty short-lived with Nathan coming up especially he'll have a lot of fuel for this mile next year. So I think if you take away Butte's elevation, that (record) might not be here too long with how fast the state's gotten."
Gallatin's boys were also helped by a big weekend from Nash Coley, who won the 400 on Friday and then added a victory in the 300 hurdles on Saturday.
"It made me realize that something was just off during the previous races that day, and I managed to find it during the 400, and then (Saturday) the 110's felt a little off but I managed to find it during the 300's," Coley said. "It means a lot. It means all of my hard work is paying off this season and I can give our good seniors one last meet."
Hellgate's girls were lifted by the 1,600 as the Knights had five of the six placers in the event, including the winner in Kaitlyn Skinner. That race helped propel the Knights to a team trophy.
"My plan was to run with my teammates and kind of see how the race went and it went well," Skinner said. "That was our coach's goal to get five in the top six and we just had to race confidently and run together and it turned out that we did get five in the top six."
Billings Skyview's Ave Roberts doubled up on Saturday as she won the girls 100 and 200 for the Falcons. For Roberts, capping off her senior season with a pair of individual titles plus another in the 400-relay was special.
"It's a pretty amazing feeling," Roberts said. "This has been my goal since I started running my sophomore year and to have amazing teammates and coaches by my side has made it that much better. I was telling my coaches and my family that I'm never going to feel comfortable until after the meet is over so I'm very excited right now. It just feels like you're floating."
Sentinel's Hudson Lembke defended his title in the 100-meter dash, as the Spartan won the race in 10;87 seconds. It was a close race with Carter and Reed Harris of Great Falls, but Lembke pulled it out once again.
"It's great and feels good. I'm still riding high on emotion right now," Lembke said. "Just have to keep (emotion) to yourself. Mind on your own race. Practice what you do. Just have to do what you do, you can't think about what everyone else is doing. Just have to focus on yourself and what you're about to go do.
"It feels great. Just all of the guys supporting me and it goes around. You can't win it by yourself, you have your team behind you, the coaches behind you, everybody rooting for you. It's a great feeling to have everybody on your side."
Also on the boys side, Hellgate saw senior Aidan Nichols go back-to-back in javelin as he threw 192 feet to get the gold medal for the Knights. It was the exact way Nichols wanted to cap off his high school career before he goes and throws as UM next year.
"It was pretty awesome, second year, two-for-two was pretty great," Nichols said. "I was definitely pretty nervous. I'm nervous before each of them. The second time (to win) feels really good. I'm really happy, it's my second year throwing javelin so it felt good."
Other winners from the day included Glacier's Ethan Anderson who won the 110 hurdles in a big win for the Wolfpack, while Scott Klinker of Great Falls took care of business in the triple jump.
"I just put my blinders on, I was going to run my race," Anderson said. "I wasn't worried about anyone in any other lane. I was just focusing on what I wanted to run and just working on a good start, staying low to the hurdles and it worked well."
"All of this hard work and effort I put into triple jump, it's my first year, and getting all of the phases down was hard to do," Klinker added about his jump. "Once I got it, it just felt so good. I was very excited for (Saturday's) event after (Friday's) performances. It was just fun."
Other winners from State AA included Billings Senior's Torie Jamieson who won the discus, Sentinel's Ava Kellenberg took the victory in the triple jump while Glacier's Aiden Krause took the win in the boys discus and Harris took the gold in the boys 200 while Gallatin's girls won the 1,600-relay.