More than a few Class A athletes will take aim at class and/or all-class records at next week’s state track and field meet. This week’s divisional meets — the Eastern/Central A at Glendive and Western A at Polson — provide those athletes their final opportunities to work out the kinks before taking their talents to the state’s largest stage.
Many fans will be focused on established standouts like Sidney’s Garrison and Carter Hughes or Corvallis’ Calla Haldorson, but there are also plenty of young athletes, especially sprinters, who will be looking to make noise at these divisional meets. Who are some of the names and teams to watch as we head down the backstretch of the 2018 track and field season?
Eastern/Central A, May 18-19 at Glendive
How high can Garrison Hughes go? The Sidney senior has already solidified himself as one of the best pole vaulters ever to come out of Montana. He cleared a personal-best height of 16 feet, 9 inches last month and is aiming for 17-03 in the final two weeks of his high school career. By all accounts, he’s vaulting as well as ever in practice, so it’s just a matter of putting those runs together at this week’s divisional meet and next week’s state meet. Hughes’ younger brother Carter will be looking for more hardware, as well. The defending Class A state champion in the shot put and the discus has a chance at the class records in both events at the state meet.
The Sidney boys won the State A team title last year, and if they want a spot on the podium this year they’ll need some points on the track. Sprinter Alec Lovegren is their best chance, and he’ll run in the competitive 100- and 200-meter dashes at the Eastern A divisional. Miles City’s Keith Vanderlaan (10.89 seconds in the 100) and Kip Krebsbach (22.38 in the 200) have Class A’s top times in the sprints. Phillip Knisely of Billings Central and Colin Marks of Livingston could also push for gold medals. Those athletes should lend to some close finishes in both relays, as well.
Belgrade’s girls won the State A team title last year largely on the strength of then-senior Pipi Eitel. Alysa Henry is back, though, and will try to lead this young team to a repeat championship. Henry will contend with Sidney’s Myka Steinbeisser for the divisional pole vault championship and Lewistown’s Marissa James in the 100-meter hurdles. Henry is also the division favorite in the long jump, while Fallon Parker and freshmen Dalani Brayton and Bella Pacheco can score points on the track for the Panthers, as well.
Western A, May 18-19 at Polson
Two of the best girls throwers in the state will be on display at the Western A divisional meet in Polson. Corvallis junior Calla Haldorson is a two-time state champion in the discus and marked a personal-best throw of 153 feet, 5 inches last month. Columbia Falls sophomore Angellica Street placed third in the javelin at last year’s state meet, but she caught the state’s attention with a throw of 145-01 at last week’s Nelson-Thomas ABC meet. Emilie Hinrichs, a Frenchtown senior, is the division’s leader in the shot put with a personal-best throw of 40-07 and could get challenged by Libby’s Shannon Reny and Columbia Falls’ Tallia Sova, among others.
The boys javelin should provide good theater, as well. Michael Graves of Hamilton has Class A’s top throw of the season at 182-05, but Corvallis’ Zach Jessop won the most recent head-to-head battle with a throw of 180-03 last week. Those two, along with Cade Holter of Butte Central and Cooper Hoffman of Dillon, figure to battle for the Western A divisional championship this weekend, and Columbia Falls throwers Drew Morgan, Logan Kolodejchuk and Ben Windauer shouldn’t be discounted, either.
In addition to Zach Jessop, Corvallis has potential event winners in Ridge Albright (high jump), Logan Lewis (triple jump), Garrett Brown (shot put) and Jake Jessop (400, 800) as the Blue Devils are the favorites for the boys team trophy. Anders Watt and Grant Martin figure to battle for the 3,200-meter title for Corvallis, as well. On the girls side, Dillon could stack up points with Tylia DeJohn, who owns Class A’s fastest times in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, Hayle Sundquist and Kyndall Peterson, who has Class A’s best triple jump of the season.