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State B track and field: Jefferson boys, Big Timber girls crowned champions

Posted at 8:33 PM, May 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-29 22:44:57-04

LAUREL -- Joey Visser and Braden Morris weren't alive the last time Jefferson brought home a state track title.

That duo etched itself in the Jefferson record books this weekend, as the Panthers claimed the State B track and field title at Laurel Sports Complex for the first time since 1998.

"It's amazing. It's been almost 25 years since we won a state title," Visser said. "(Noah) Bouchard went down and that's sad, you hate to see that happen, but I'm just glad that we have a chance at the state title."

The day got off on a sour note, however. Morris false started in the 400-meter relay, which cost Jefferson a potential first-place finish. Morris didn't have long to regroup, as the finals for the 110-meter hurdles loomed. Unfazed, Morris picked up Jefferson's first of two hurdle titles, finishing in 15.33 seconds.

"I kind of redeemed myself a little bit," Morris said. "(My coach) just said to forget about it and move on. There's nothing I can do about it now."

Morris looked like he was going to sweep the hurdles, but Visser passed Morris after clearing the final hurdle, giving Jefferson a 1-2 finish in the 300-meter hurdles.

"(Morris) was ahead of me, but I just wanted to catch him. I love the kid to death, but I just wanted to get first. It's my event. I'm glad we both got there together. It was a long race, but in the end it came out with us going one and two," Visser said. "We've gone 1-2 in every race this year. ... That pressure that it gives us (to score) pushes us even harder to get on top."

Morris continued to perform well after his earlier miscue, adding a second-place finish in the triple jump. Visser placed fourth in the 100-meter dash, as Jefferson finished with 62 points, 14 clear of second-place Missoula Loyola.

Loyola's Ridger Palma swept the 100- and 200-meter dashes, winning in 11.45 seconds and 22.60 seconds, respectively. Palma placed second in the 400-meter dash on Friday. Loyola also won the 400-meter relay.

Wolf Point's Zander Ackerman finished off a sweep of the distance events with a victory in the 3,200-meter run in 9 minutes, 47.86 seconds on Saturday. Ackerman won the 1,600-meter run on Friday and placed second in the 800-meter run on Saturday.

Manhattan's Wyatt Barney added a gold medal in the 800 to his Friday 400 title, crossing in 1:55.82. Barney also anchored Manhattan's first-place 1,600-meter relay team, helping the Tigers lock up a third-place finish.

Huntley Project's Noah Bouchard returns to claim State B high jump title

When Huntley Project senior Noah Bouchard went down with a hamstring injury in the trials of the 110-meter hurdles on Friday, it didn't appear as if he'd be able to compete Saturday.

Bouchard, who was on crutches Friday afternoon, made his return for the high jump, where he was looking to break the State B record.

"I just went to the doctor and they said it was just a strain and that I was good to go if I was mentally up to it," Bouchard said. "I just worked on it (Friday) night, massages, lidocaine patches, wrapping it, stretching it out, not using the brace to walk, anything I could to strengthen it in a day."

Essentially dragging his right leg on an altered approach, Bouchard won the state title with a leap of 6 feet, 4 inches. He then decided to jump straight to 6-10 for the record but was unsuccessful on three tries.

Bouchard won the javelin on Friday morning before going down. He was favored to win the 110-meter hurdles, long jump, triple jump and high jump entering the meet.

"I tried to make the most of it, tried to stay positive knowing that I'm not done with my track career," said Bouchard, who has yet to decide where he will continue his athletic career. "It was tough knowing that I could have came out here and given one of the best performances Montana has ever seen. To have that stripped sucks, but knowing that I have four more years, five more years kept me going."

Big Timber girls claim first State B track title in school history

The Big Timber girls are adding state championship hardware to the trophy case, as the Sheepherders were crowned State B track and field champions for the first time in school history.

Fresh off a State B girls basketball title, the Herders were anchored by many of those same faces.

"We just really push each other. We want the best from each other," Alyssa Boshart said. "Our coach told us to just think of (Saturday) as a regular track meet. Don't get too nervous and if someone is ahead of you just push hard to try to catch them. Don't give up."

Emily Cooley picked up a first-place finish in the high jump after winning a tiebreaker jump with Huntley Project's Hannah Cooper at 5 feet, 4 inches. Cooley also placed fifth in the 100-meter dash and ran on Big Timber's winning 400-meter relay team.

It was Boshart, though, who made her case as the most valuable athlete at the meet.

Boshart won the 100-meter dash in 12.90 seconds, placed second in the 200-meter dash in 26.10 seconds, placed third in the 400-meter dash and fifth in the 100-meter hurdles. She also anchored Big Timber's winning 400-meter relay team and fourth-place 1,600-meter relay team.

"I think we're just all pretty close. We push each other a lot. We all just have a chemistry with each other, which helps a lot," Boshart said.

The news gets better for Big Timber. There isn't a single senior on the team.