MISSOULA — It’s been a slow grind this season for the Seeley-Swan boys track and field team. The first week of May was the first time the Blackhawks were able to get outside on their grass track for workouts after inclement weather had relegated them to the gym.
That hasn’t kept the team from finding success throughout the season, though. Seeley-Swan has multiple athletes ranked in the top 10 of Class C on the track. The competitive practice environment has allowed for the team to improve on a daily basis.
“The competition in practice pushes us, definitely,” Seeley-Swan junior Hunter Shelmerdine said at the District 13C track and field meet. “Even our practices, it looks looks just like a meet. We’re racing to see who can be the first to the finish line, even on a 50-yard sprint.”
Being the best on a team loaded with sprinters is hardly the only motivation members of the Blackhawks need. Members of Seeley-Swan’s 400- and 1,600-meter relay teams have fond memories of watching Ennis break the Class C state record in 2016.
Now, Seeley-Swan holds the top time in Class C in both relays, and is among the favorites to end Ennis’ stranglehold on Class C. The Mustangs have won three consecutive state titles.
“Since my freshman year I’ve competed against Corbin and Tanner (Wood),” said junior Logan Robinson. “They’re tremendous athletes, and they score a lot for Ennis. I think there will be good competition in the sprints between Seeley and Ennis.”
“I love competing at that higher level against Ennis,” Shelmerdine added. “I remember racing against them when they broke the Class C record. … Just being able to say we pushed over them and were able to do even better (motivates us).”
If Seeley-Swan is to dethrone the Mustangs, it will have to come on the track. The Blackhawks are unlikely to get points from the field events, so their scoring will have to come from the sprinters. Seeley-Swan is the defending Class C champion in the 1,600-meter relay and uses that as motivation to keep improving.
Even with the competitive stakes rising, Seeley-Swan tries to keep the atmosphere around the team loose. While ladders and speed work may be on the docket for practice, the coaches have taken advantage of time in the gym by blaring music over the speakers.
“Our one coach, David Cahoon, he’ll go through and ask us what we want to hear music-wise. So it’s all over the place with music, just keeping the atmosphere at practice fun and exciting,” Shelmerdine said.
That loose, care-free atmosphere has only been a boost to team chemistry, according to head coach Mike Haines. Haines promotes the competitiveness in practice by preaching that his team, no matter how small, can compete with Class AA schools, and that “we all put our pants on the same way every day,” according to Robinson.
It’s that kind of attitude and approach that has the Seeley-Swan boys track team aiming for a position to end Ennis’ reign over Class C.
State C boys notes
- If Ennis is to win its fourth consecutive state title, the Mustangs will need every bit of scoring Tanner and Corbin Wood can provide, as they are the only two qualified Mustangs. Corbin has the State C 100-meter dash record in his crosshairs. After running 10.98 at the Western C divisional in prelims, the record of 10.96 is certainly in jeopardy.
- Roberts standout Alex Kosel is the defending Class C champion in the high jump, and finished second in the long jump and third in the triple jump. Kosel is among the favorites to claim the Class C title in all three events. Kosel is the only Class C long jumper over 22 feet this season.
- Manhattan Christian’s Lincoln Young will take aim at a Class C state record this weekend in the pole vault. Young’s vault of 15 feet is easily the best in Class C, and is just one inch short of the state record set in 2001 by Arlee’s Rafe Espinoza.
- They Scobey boys team will be in the mix for the team title this weekend, boasting depth on both the track and in the field. Riley Linder, who won five events at last weekend’s Eastern C divisional, is a strong bet to rack up points in both hurdle races as well as the javelin. Martin Farver and CJ Nelson are also names to watch for Scobey this weekend.