MISSOULA — Klaire Kovatch made it look easy all season but on Friday found herself in an unusual spot when she wasn't leading the women's discus field heading into the final throws of the day.
Still, the Seeley-Swan senior and Colorado State signee rebounded in a big way as her throw of 145 feet, 11 inches earned her another state discus title on the first day of the State C track and field meet on Friday at MCPS Stadium in Missoula.
For Kovatch, who received a loud ovation from the crowd watching the discus after what she's accomplished, it's her third Class C state discus championship, as she also won it in 2018 and 2019 before 2020's season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Her goal was to ultimately break the all-class record of 157 feet -- Kovatch's PR is 159-03 which she achieved at the Bigfork Invitational on April 3 but since it wasn't at a state meet it doesn't become an official state record -- but ending her career on a high note as a champion once again still gave her plenty to be proud of.
"It's exciting. I still get gold, but didn't quite PR," Kovatch said. "But, there's going to be days you don't have that. Unfortunately it's been weeks but it's not my last throw ever and so I'm excited to move on and get to the next thing, and it's 10 points for Seeley and it's all good."
Kovatch trailed Fairview's Jadyn Gackle after the first flights were completed before finals. For her, it was all about refocusing, relaxing and finding a way to get a throw inbounds so she had a chance to perform better in the finals.
Kovatch was one of two individual winners for Seeley-Swan on Friday as the Blackhawks hold a one-point lead over Fort Benton for the team lead after the first day. The Blackhawks scored 26 points while Fort Benton finished with 25 and Fairview rounded out the top three with 18.
Seeley-Swan junior Sariah Maughan, who won the 1,600-meter title as a freshman in 2019, won the 400 in 58.32 seconds for Seeley-Swan as she edged out Brooke Reuter of Savage, who took second at 58.36. Maughan and Kovatch -- along with Emily Maughan and Hannah Ayers -- helped Seeley-Swan take the top time in the 400-relay prelims as well.
CLARK, GIESE LEAD LONGHORNS
Fort Benton got a big 1-2 punch in the long jump from Abby Clark and Aspen Giese.
Giese leaped 17-00.50 on her final attempt, and on the ensuing jump, Clark surpassed her to win the title with a mark of 17-03.50.
"I was second going into finals and honestly I think it was seeing my teammate's success," Clark said. "I was really rooting for Aspen and I really wanted her to do well and I guess seeing her jump that right before me, it fired me up and I guess I jumped one more and it was good enough to win.
"We joked about it earlier saying, 'We can go 1-2, it's OK, we can do it.' Then it happened. It felt right. I want her to succeed and she drove me to succeed as well."
REUTER POSITIONED WELL FOR SATURDAY
Other winners included Belt's Lindsey Paulson who won the 1,600 with a time of 5:13.98. Fairview's Teigan Taylor won the pole vault with a vault of 10-06.
Reuter finished with a big day as she earned the top prelim times in both the 100 and 200. Charlo's Carlee Fryberger also finished with the top 100 hurdle time in the prelims.
FORT BENTON HOLDS EARLY LEAD AFTER WINS FROM THOMPSON, MARAIS
In the boys meet, Fort Benton scored 26 points to take the early team lead. Plentywood is in second with 22 while Seeley-Swan rounded out the top three with 20 points.
Jace Thompson and Nick Marais picked up wins for the Longhorns on the opening day. Thompson vaulted 13 feet to win the pole vault while Marais won the long jump with a mark of 20-07.75. The Longhorns could get a big boost on Saturday from William Ullery, as the senior owns the top prelim times in both the 100 and 200. The Longhorns' 400-relay team also had the top prelim time as well.
"I think we keep on doing what we're doing," said Marais about Fort Benton's work on Saturday. "Finishing our events strong, pushing through. It's our seniors last year here so might as well end it with a big meet."
HOAG, MCDONALD LEAD SEELEY-SWAN
Seeley-Swan's points came from a pair of winners in Owen Hoag and Walker McDonald. Hoag and Belt's Kaimen Evans battled in the closest race of the day in the 400 with Hoag getting the win with a time of 50.10 to just edge out Evans' mark of 50.12.
"I'm glad I won but I'm also glad it's over," Hoag said with a laugh. "It was a great feeling, it's my first time at state so I'm happy with it. I just look at the finish line and I saw Kaimen out of the corner of my eye and I just tried to stay ahead of him. I honestly thought I lost but I'm glad I won."
McDonald was the favorite in the discus coming into the meet and he did not disappoint, winning with a toss of 156-09.
Plentywood scored a big win when Cameron Brusven won the javelin with a toss of 172-03. Richey-Lambert's Samuel Smith dominated the 1,600 en route to his state title, as Smith crossed the finish line at 4:29.84. Tate Smith of Twin Bridges finished with the fastest 110 hurdle time as well.