Some of Montana’s best track and field athletes hail from Class B programs, and they’ll try to lead their teams to divisional championships this week. The Southern B meet is Thursday, the two-day Western B is Thursday and Friday, and the Northern B is Saturday.
Short previews highlighting some of the top teams and athletes from each meet are below.
Southern B, May 17 at Laurel
The Southern B divisional track meet will feature a ton of talent, setting up intriguing team races for both the boys and girls. After winning the District 3B championship, Forsyth’s boys figure to be the favorite at the divisional meet. Cade Johnstone, Paul Johnstone and Caleb Knoche give the Dogies a high-scoring trio that could potentially rack up gold medals in the 100-, 200-, 400- and 800-meter runs, as well as both relays, the javelin, long jump and triple jump. The Dogies won’t be without competition, though. Big Timber’s Casey Gunlikson is a threat in the 100, 200 and 300 hurdles while teammate Nathan Baker will seek wins in the discus and javelin; Huntley Project boasts a ton of depth with Austin Hernandez, Lane Sumner, Bradley Graves, Chris Hust and Trey Copeland, among others; Manhattan figures to pile up points from Bryce Love and Zak Meeker in the distance races; and Joliet could snag a lot of points in the field events from guys like Brett Robinson, Ry Olson and Taylor Rowlison.
The girls team race should be just as competitive, if not more so. Colstrip (District 3B), Huntley Project (4B) and Manhattan (5B) enter the Southern B divisional off district titles, and they’ll get challenged by the likes of Baker and Three Forks. Whitney Hanson (800, 1,600, long jump), Trinity Lewandowski (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles) and Chasitie Rollins (discus, javelin) lead the Fillies’ chances, while Huntley Project counters with sprinting sensations Alana Graves and Chantel Chase and do-everything thrower Emily Poole, who has the division’s top marks in the shot put, discus and javelin. Manhattan has the depth to compete for a team trophy and will try to place four runners in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs. Hannah Madsen leads the Tigers in both events, and Jodi Cameron and Jessa Steele could find the podium in both, too. Gabrielle Bos (1,600) and Hannah Boyd (3,200) are potential point-scorers, as well.
Northern B, May 19 at Great Falls
Fairfield and Glasgow cruised to District 1B and District 2B boys championships, respectively, and appear poised for a showdown at the Northern B divisional meet. Fairfield junior Dawson Allen enters the meet with the top seed marks in five individual events — the 100- and 200-meter dashes, the 110- and 300-meter hurdles, and the javelin. Brett Glaser (400, shot put, triple jump) and Ellis McKean (800, 1,600) combine for five top seed marks for Glasgow. The Scotties have the top three times in the 3,200-meter run (Wilson Overby, Ellis McKean, Merlin McKean), while Fairfield has the top three times in the 100 (Allen, Ryder Meyer, Isaac Clotfelter).
Glasgow’s girls, meanwhile, look like runaway favorites for the divisional crown. Baylie Chappell has had a sensational season for the Scotties and will seek individual titles in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter runs, while teammate Emily Kolstad will push for first in the 200, 400 and 800. Both girls run legs on Glasgow’s top-ranked relay teams, as well. Shelby’s Brook Luly (800, 1,600, long jump), Harlem’s L’Tia Lawrence (1,600, 3,200) and Malta’s Erica Smith (long jump, triple jump, high jump) will also look for wins in multiple events.
Western B, May 17-18 at Frenchtown
Bigfork’s girls are the favorites to repeat as Class B state champions in 10 days, and the Valkyries will likely demonstrate their strength at the Western B divisional meet. They could have the top two finishers the 100-meter dash (Haile Norred, Jordan Nelson), 200-meter dash (Norred, Nelson), 400-meter run (Norred, Bryn Morley), 800-meter run (Morley, Anya Young), 1,600-meter run (Morley, Young) and 3,200-meter run (Morley, Young) and could place another runner — if not two or three — in each of those events. Deer Lodge seems the most likely challenger with Kamryn Scully (100- and 300-meter hurdles, pole vault), Ariel Clark (shot put, discus) and Amy Fjell-Hagan (shot put, discus) leading the way.
On the boys side, Deer Lodge thrower Austin Forson will turn much of the attention to the field events. Forson is the favorite in the shot put and a huge favorite in the discus (he’s marked a personal-best throw of 190 feet, 4 1/2 inches this season), but the javelin should be one of the most tightly contested events of the meet. The top seven seeds — Missoula Loyola’s Bryce Danielson, Eureka’s Jakeb Kindel, Anaconda’s Gabe Byrne, Bigfork’s Logan Gilliard, Eureka’s Mason Davis, Bigfork’s Chase Chappuis and St. Ignatius’ Michael Durglo — are separated by less than six feet this season.