WHITEFISH — Hailey Ells has dominated on the track for the Whitefish Bulldogs during her high school career. Now the senior has decided to stay in the Treasure State to continue her career at Montana State.
"Coach Dustin (Cichosz) was amazing at MSU, he's been in contact with me since sophomore year, never really stopped contacting me," said Ells. "He just loved my personality, my drive, and so I think that's a really big aspect. I just feel like I'll feel at home there and feel respected as an athlete and as a person."
In a way Ells will be following in her older sisters Mikenna’s footsteps. Mikenna Ells is almost at the end of her collegiate track career, the only difference is Mikenna is at the University of Montana.
"She definitely gives me a hard time, it's always like, ‘Go Griz’ constantly," Ells said with a laugh. "And then when I signed she was like, ‘Oh I’m wearing a Griz shirt 100%.’ So there's just the little things. But yeah, she's super excited for me, super happy. I'm excited that we'll get to see each other at all the track meets."
Despite the newfound rivalry, Ells knows she wouldn’t be in the position she’s in without her big sister to look up to.
"I would say she's my biggest inspiration, she has been since I was a little kid. I've always just taken after her," said Ells. "Just to be able to have this opportunity to go to the next level is amazing, and I feel like I gotta give a lot of it to her. She just always pushed me and always was encouraging me regardless of what was going on."
Even with all the excitement with her commitment to the Cats, the Class 400- and 1,600-meter relay winner is focused on finishing out her final year of high school track on top.
"Our outcome last year wasn't how we wanted to end; it was a struggle at state," said Ells. "We're hungry for another championship and I think we're all going to focus on the process and getting better daily and not just the results."
Before she heads to Bozeman, Ells will look to help lead the Bulldogs girls track team to their second state title in three years.