BUTTE — Delaney Bahn certainly didn’t mind the schedule change this weekend.
Bahn, a Bozeman High junior, was set to join the rest of the Class AA girls at the annual Great Falls Optimist Invitational, but construction on the all-weather track at Memorial Stadium in the Electric City forced the Optimist south on Interstate 15, creating a combined boys and girls Swede Dahlberg Invitational in Butte. Bahn, for one, wasn’t phased.
The sensational senior cruised to a 26.08 in the 200-meter dash, besting her own state-best mark by one one-hundredth of a second. But Bahn’s best performance came in the long jump pits. Last year’s state runner-up drew one of the loudest ovations of the day at Charlie Merrifield Track at East Middle School, soaring into the sand with a new meet record of 19 feet, 2 inches. Bahn’s jump, which caused a humorous moment from the long jump official, who shouted in excitement, “she did it, she broke the record,” topped the previous mark from former Bozeman standout Julie Lenegar, who jumped 18-11 3/4 in 2001.
“I’m definitely thrilled. I wasn’t expecting a jump like that, but I like making my teammates excited and my coach excited. That’s always fun,” said Bahn. “At first I didn’t know what the (long jump official) was talking about when she said, ‘She broke the record.’ I was like, ‘What record?’ I didn’t think it was that great of a jump, it felt good, but I wasn’t expecting over 19.”
The south pits in the stadium nearly saw a second record fall late in the afternoon, but Missoula Sentinel’s superstar sophomore Lauren Heggen scratched her last three jumps in the triple jump finals after an exhausting effort in multiple events. Heggen’s third attempt won the event at 37-07, just missing the 37-09 1/2 mark set by former Flathead standout Kwyn Johnson in 2012.
Heggen’s decision to skip her final three attempts, including a chance at the record, was understandable. Earlier in the day she earned a runner-up finish in the long jump, besting her own personal record by six inches after securing a 17-11 effort. Heggen also kept her spot as the state’s top 100-meter hurdles runner, winning the event in 15.45.
“I had a good day, for sure,” said Heggen. “I came out and ran those 100 hurdles and was pretty happy with my (15.30) prelim time. There was a bit of a headwind in the finals, so that was kind of tough, but I managed to take first in that. I was definitely happy there. My prelim time was faster than my finals time, but it was 0.03 off of my personal record, so I was close. Long jump was good, going 17-11, that was a PR for me, like a half-a-foot best. I was happy with that because I had been struggling by not being able to hit my mark. I was happy to hit it today.
“Triple jump was alright, like I said, my legs are exhausted and I have to keep them healthy for upcoming meets. I didn’t want to push it too hard today.”
Heggen and the Spartans pulled away from Bozeman to win the team title at the meet that serves as a state preview. Heggen’s jumping teammate Ashley McElmurry added second-place honors in the triple jump (36-08 3/4) and a third-place effort in long jump (17-10). She also placed second in the 300 hurdles and fifth in the 100 hurdles, combining with Heggen for 52 points.
But Sentinel also dominated in the throwing events, winning the shot put, discus and javelin competitions. The Spartans placed first and second in the javelin, with Kylie Frohlich edging teammate Emily Malone for the top spot. Frohlich tossed 127-03 to Malone’s 124-10. Sentinel tallied 20 more points in the discus, with Class AA’s leading thrower Madi Arneson reaching 129-09 to capture first place. Malone placed fourth, while Aaliyah Woods was third. Woods took top honors in the shot put with a heave of 39-03. Arneson finished fourth.
Sentinel scored 52 points in the throwing events, combining with Heggen’s and McElmurry’s efforts in the jumps and hurdles for 104 of the Spartans’ 110.25 points. Bozeman finished second with 93 points, while Billings Senior was third with 68.25.
“We have great throwers, incredible. It’s awesome,” said Heggen. “We have phenomenal coaches and they’re working with all of us on the mental side of things, which is helping a lot. They’re super supportive and make us all reach for our goals. They make us aware of what we’re capable of.”
Kalispell Glacier and future University of Colorado runner Annie Hill set a pair of state bests on the track Friday afternoon. Hill, who says she was using the meet as a speed workout, won the 800 in 2:13.15 before sprinting to a 59.08 in the 400. Montana’s defending Gatorade girls track and field athlete of the year was pleased with the efforts, particularly in her first 400 of the season.
“Today was definitely a speed workout. I’m doing some fast work so I can improve my kick for the longer races,” said Hill. “I was pretty nervous, it was my first time running the open 400 this year and I’m always really nervous the first time I run an event. I’ve only done starting blocks for two days this year, the last two days, so it’s a bit nerve-racking, I was a little bit out of my comfort zone, but it’s one of my favorite races so it was fun and I enjoyed it.”
Fellow distance runners Camila Noe of Bozeman, the Gatorade cross country runner of the year, and Billings Senior’s Tiahna Vladic each added wins Friday. Vladic paced the field in the 1,600-meter run, finishing with a 5:09.76. Noe came within seconds of former Flathead runner Zoe Nelson’s meet record in the 3,200, crossing the finish line in 10:42.28. Nelson ran a 10:40 in 2003. Noe’s teammates Alex Moore and Phoebe Jacques placed second and third in the 3,200, respectively.
Bozeman’s Lucy Corbett added a win for the Hawks in the high jump, clearing 5-05. Corbett owns the season’s top clearance of 5-07.
For full results from Friday’s combined Swede Dahlberg Invitational, please click here.