MISSOULA – The Russ Pilcher Top 10 track meet brings together the best from around western Montana. The winners distinguished themselves while surrounded by many other stars.
Top notch athletes like Kalispell Glacier’s javelin ace Bennett McChesney and Polson’s top hurdler Colton Cote have won plenty of competitions. But coming out on top in the Top 10 feels different.
“This meet means a lot, cause all of the best kids out of the west are here,” said Cote, who won the 110 hurdles in 15.53 seconds. “I’ve never won Top 10 before, so it’s giving me a lot of confidence to go through the rest of the season.”
“It’s pretty nice to see people from other divisions, from (Class) A schools,” said McChesney, who won the javelin with a throw of 183 feet. “There was this kid from Hamilton (Michael Graves) who was really keeping up with me. It’s really good to have that competition.”
The Top 10 can also help create new stars. Frenchtown freshman standout Jace Klucewich had already created a buzz. Now he’s on everyone’s radar after winning the 100-meter dash in 11.3 seconds against a stacked field. The breakout sprinter doesn’t want to do anything slow, even if he has years to reach his high school goals.
“I’m looking for anything sub 11,” said Klucewich. “I want to break our school record, which is 11-flat. So I’ve been gunning for that for a while, and I hope I get it by the end of the year. I’m trying to get it right now, cause you never know. You can get hurt or anything. So go all out all of the time.”
Missoula Hellgate’s Isaac Schmidt went all out for every step of his victory in the 1600 meters. He crushed the tough field by over 17 seconds and set a new personal best mark by five seconds. But just like most top athletes, Schmidt proved he’s a perfectionist and not satisfied.
“The meet record was 4:17.42, and I ran 4:18.02. So I missed it by .6 seconds,” said Schmidt. “I haven’t really taken any big records yet. So I was hoping to finally grab a record, but couldn’t quite get it.”
Missoula Sentinel’s sophomore sensation Lauren Heggen might have had the best day. She did break the meet record in the triple jump, her best event, with a leap of 38 feet, 10 1/2 inches. Heggen also put up the best time in Montana this year in the 100-meter hurdles, a race she sat out last season because of injury.
“I was really happy to go under 15 (seconds) today,” said Heggen shortly after she crossed the line in 14.92 seconds. “That was my season goal. So to get it now, I’m just excited to keep improving. I’m really liking it so far. It’s really fun. So I’m hoping that that gets to become one of my events as well.”
In addition to Heggen’s triple jump record, Glacier’s Annie Hill broke the Top 10 mark in the 3200 meters by crossing the tape in 10:38.08. Helena Capital’s Justin Jenks, the Class AA leader in the shot put and discus, set a new meet record in the shot put with a throw of 58-04.