LAUREL - Huntley Project's bid for a second consecutive State B boys track and field title got off to a terrific start on Friday morning.
Senior standout Noah Bouchard won the javelin, considered his weakest event, with a throw of 166 feet, 4 inches. Bouchard was favored to win four more individual events to help propel the Red Devils to a team title.
Then disaster struck.
Midway through Bouchard's 110-meter hurdles race in prelims, he pulled up lame and fell to the track with what appeared to be a severe hamstring injury in his right leg. Bouchard did not long jump Friday afternoon and his status for Saturday is up in the air. Bouchard was a favorite in the high jump, where he was taking aim at the State B record of 6-09.
Project still manufactured 28 points to open up a lead after Day 1, though. Stanley Buchanan won the discus with a throw of 149-00. Kevin Graves finished sixth in the 1,600-meter run and Luke Donally third in the pole vault.
There's no replacing Bouchard's production, which has opened the door for a handful of contenders. Missoula Loyola and Bigfork sit in a tie for second with 16 points, but there are seven teams behind Project separated by just six points.
Other individual winners on Friday include Manhattan's Wyatt Barney in the 400-meter dash (49.54 seconds), Wolf Point's Zander Ackerman in the 1,600 (4:31.02), Colby Martinez of Columbus in the long jump (21-04) and Bigfork's Seth Osborne won the pole vault (13-09).
Manhattan's girls have opened up a lead over a handful of Southern B challengers, as the Tigers scored 22 points on Friday. Huntley Project sits second with 16 points and Big Timber third with 14 points, though the Red Devils and Sheepherders have several points still at stake on the track on Saturday.
Manhattan didn't have an individual champion on Friday, but senior Madeline Severson enjoyed a nice performance to push the Tigers out in front. Severson finished second in the long jump with a leap of 16-08 ¼. Severson also finished second in the 400 in 58.68 seconds.
Hallie Hemenway was Manhattan's other placer from Day 1, finishing third in the 1,600.
Huntley Project got a strong showing in the discus, as Tristen Sedgwick finished first with a throw of 128-02 and teammate Brooke McClenning finished third. That has the Red Devils in position to make a move on Saturday, as Project should be right in the thick of the team title hunt.
"It's pretty nice to feel all my hard work pay off finally after all these years. I've been dreaming about this since seventh grade. It's a pretty intense feeling to finally get it done and accomplish something so big like this," Sedgwick said. "It's an amazing feeling. I love (McClenning) to death. We've been working for so long for this moment (Friday). It's so nice to have her up there with me."
Other winners from Friday were Three Forks' Jasmyn Murphy in the long jump (17-00 ¼), Townsend's Emma Stolte in the 1,600 (5:17.47) and Wolf Point's Jewel Olson in the 400 (58.34).
Saturday's action gets going at 9 a.m. in Laurel.