BUTTE – The top-five long jumpers among all classifications met in Butte for the Swede Dahlberg Invitational on Friday, and they delivered a tight battle throughout.
Six jumpers lept over 20 feet, but Bozeman High’s Latrell McCutcheon and Billings Senior standout Gabe Sulser were the only athletes to crack the 21-foot mark. Sulser jumped 21 feet, 2.5 inches on his final attempt before finals, but McCutcheon stepped on the runway right after Sulser and matched that distance.
But it was McCutcheon’s consistency that pushed him over the top. McCutcheon landed all but one of his jumps over 20 feet, ultimately propelling him to a victory via tiebreak over Sulser.
“It feels really good knowing the work that I put in, I was able to come out on top. We’ve got a lot of good jumpers here and I’ve just got to keep working,” McCutcheon said after the victory. “It just kind of seemed like I was more prepared.”
This is the only meet prior to the Class AA state meet that will feature all 14 AA teams. With the win, McCutcheon feels like he has gained a mental advantage over his opponents as they approach the state meet.
“I’ve been consistently jumping 20, 21 (feet), so that will hopefully get me in a good place for state.”
With the win, McCutcheon has firmly etched his name atop the Class AA long jump favorites.
McCutcheon’s performance was just one of Bozeman’s contributions to the team’s second place finish. Logan Kleinhans, the defending Class AA long jump champion, made his season debut in the triple jump and walked away with first-place finish after jumping 42-08. Sprinter Robbie Simpson finished second in both the 100 and 200.
Bozeman opened the day with defending Gatorade cross country runner of the year Duncan Hamilton crossing the tape first in the 3,200-meter run in 9:25.32, which is a season best on Montana soil. Bozeman then won the 4×100 relay in 43.41, just edging Kalispell Flathead, Missoula Sentinel and Billings West at the line. The four teams finished within .1 seconds of each other.
In other notable performances Helena Capital’s Justin Jenks swept the shot put and discus, setting a new school-record in the shot put with a toss of 61-03. Jenks finished runner-up at last year’s Class AA state track and field meet. His discus throw of 166-02 is just shy of a season best, but was enough to keep Jenks on top of Class AA in both events.
Jenks tipped his hat to his competitors for continuing to push him to new heights. “You can’t really throw good without good competition. You always need the person behind you pushing to go farther.”
Flathead’s Michael Lee was one of many to lift the Braves to the Swede Dahlberg team title. Lee finished second in the shot put with a throw of 55-02.5. Chad Hemsley took the title in the 300 hurdles, crossing the line in 39.34, and teammate Dawson Rinehart finished third. In the 110 hurdles, Flathead took home 13 points. Dawson Rhinehart finished second, Camas Rinehart finished fourth, and Hemsley came in sixth.
Sulser’s day wasn’t over after long jump. He went on to win the 110 hurdles in 14.84, and finished second in the 300 hurdles in 39.59. Defending Class AA 100 state champion Damien Nelson of CMR looks poised to repeat after running away from the field in 11.05.
Missoula Sentinel’s Caden Venters came into the javelin holding the top mark in the state. However, he needed his final throw of prelims to grab the lead from Glacier’s Bennett McChesney. After McChesney threw 180-00, Venters launched his 180-05 to grab the lead. McChesney would not top Venters’ throw in finals.
Full meet results can be found here.