KALISPELL — As soon as Ben Perrin stepped on the track for Kalispell Flathead, he knew he had big shoes to fill.
Perrin’s older brothers, Zach and Jake, are both running collegiately, and they have their fingerprints all over the Montana record books, and each was named Gatorade male track athlete of the year during their careers at Flathead.
Zach Perrin is currently a senior at the University of Colorado, where he has run on the cross country and track and field teams. He broke the 4-minute barrier in the mile, was a second-team all-American in 2017 in the indoor mile, and a second-team all-American in the outdoor 5,000-meter run. He became just the third Montanan to break the 4-minute barrier, joining Laurel’s Patrick Casey and Poplar’s Scott McGowan.
Those aren’t the only big shoes to fill. Jake Perrin is currently running at Gonzaga, where he owns the program’s freshman records in the 5,000- and 10,000-meter runs. He also set the all-class state records in Montana in both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs in 2016.
“I kind of just try to put the most pressure on myself to succeed. (Zach and Jake) set a really high standard for me with all their fast times,” Perrin said. “Obviously they try to push me to be my best, help me with my training a lot and everything. I’m basically just trying to be the best that I can be, and it definitely helps having that experience because they’ve been through all of this.”
Perrin has certainly been living up to the high standards set by his brothers. He has the top time in the state in the 3,200, and is No. 3 in the 1,600. His talents on the track earned him a trip to the prestigious Arcadia Invitational in Los Angeles in early April, where he would face some of the nation’s best.
Perrin ran a personal-best time of 9 minutes, 4.56 seconds at Arcadia, finishing in 21st place. His time was just shy of Jake’s current state record of 9:04.35.
“It was amazing. The weather, the competition, everything — it was just perfect,” Perrin said of the Arcadia Invitational. “The biggest thing was being able to run against all of the fastest guys in the nation. It just really pushed me. I just had to get in the race and try my hardest. It’s easy to succeed at that meet. I was so happy and blessed to be able to go down there and be able to compete there.”
Perrin has set some lofty goals for himself. There has yet to be a sub-9-minute 3,200 on Montana soil, but he thinks he has what it takes to do so. He’s been focusing on the 3,200 and the 1,600, working on his speed and trying to drop his times week after week. Just a junior, Perrin will have more than one opportunity to break his brother’s all-class record, as well as making Montana history by breaking 9 minutes in the 3,200.
With his brothers running for Division I track and field programs, Perrin has set his sights on doing the same. He wants to study filmography and writing, while possibly attending film school, too, which could narrow his choices of schools substantially.
“I’m basically just trying to pick colleges based off of what I want to major in, because I think school is probably the most important thing,” he said. “I just (want) the best coach I can find that I know will push me to be the best athlete that I can be.”
“I’d love to be able to run in college. Four or five years of college and running is done. So I think focusing on that in college, it’s pretty important, too,” he added.
The recruiting process is familiar within the Perrin family, and they can expect the same for their youngest son. Ben Perrin will take another shot at his brother’s all-class state record at next weekend’s State AA track and field meet at Memorial Stadium in Great Falls.