BUTTE – Delaney Bahn has a way of getting people excited.
The Bozeman High School junior consistently draws applause for her work on the track and in the field – she’s among the state’s fastest in the 200-meter dash and she tied for second place in the high jump at the State AA track and field meet last spring – but it’s in the long jump pits Bahn is literally leaving jaws dropped.
Bahn has bested meet records at two of the more prestigious invitationals in the state this spring, including Tuesday’s Midland Roundtable Top 10, where she soared 19 feet, 1 ½ inches to break a 20-year-old record. But her career-best jump came in April at the Swede Dahlberg Invite when she stretched 19-02, the No. 3 jump in Montana history according to the Montana High School Association.
The mark brought a wide grin to Bahn’s face, but perhaps the long jump officials were even more excited.
“At first I didn’t know what record she was talking about. I was like, ‘What record?’ I didn’t think it was a great jump. It felt good, but I wasn’t expecting over 19 feet,” Bahn laughed. “I’m definitely thrilled. I wasn’t expecting any jump like that. I just like making my teammates excited and my coach excited. That’s always fun.”
The soft-spoken junior, who often comes across as shy, remains humble in her successes, crediting those coaches and teammates for every meet and stadium record broken. She also jokes about the fact her track and field career nearly never happened, but she bucked the family trend to pave her own path.
“My whole family were actually swimmers and I did swim for a little bit, but everyone else was a swimmer. My mom did track for a little bit, but she wasn’t as motivated as I am in it,” said Bahn. “I started swimming in elementary school, I think I ended that in fifth grade because track and field got in the way. I loved track way too much to stop doing it, so I stopped swimming and continued with cross country and track.”
One could easily imagine Bahn atop the podium at swim meets across the state, her pure athleticism allowing her to excel in nearly any sport, but track has her heart and she’s re-writing its record books.
Last year’s Class AA runner-up is on pace to break the state meet records, as well – the 1979 mark of 18-11 ¼ set by Kalispell Flathead’s Lexie Miller and the all-class record of 18-11 ¾ from former Dillon standout Julie Lenegar – but insists she can’t let expectations, internal or external, get the best of her.
“I try not to let it get to my head, because if I’m focusing too much on improving and what I should do for other people, I’m not going to have fun anymore, I’m not going to do as well. That’s just how my mind works and my body works,” she said. “I just focus on the fun aspect, because I end up doing better.”
The passion to the sport and success in the sand has college coaches calling. Bahn says she has drawn interest from the northwest but is especially excited after talking with coaches at prestigious athletic and academic programs at Stanford and Princeton.
She owns the grades – mostly As with Bs sprinkled in – and marks to continue success with the likes of the Cardinal or Tigers, but she keeps the future in the back of her mind to avoid an overload of stress. For now, she’s all in on those afternoons gathered around the oval, enjoying her favorite activity.
“I just enjoy track, not so much the competition, although I do love the competition, but interacting with other teammates and other teams, I think that’s the most important to me,” said Bahn.
Setting records and exciting those around her isn’t too bad either.