BILLINGS — Sixty-eight individual track and field titles and eight team championships will be awarded this weekend. The State AA and State C meets run Friday and Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Great Falls, while the State A and State B meets will take place at the Laurel Sports Complex.
Billings and southwestern Montana will be well-represented at the state meets, and we’ll start right here in Yellowstone County with the State A and B meets in Laurel. Action actually starts Thursday afternoon with the Class A girls pole vault, where Sidney’s Myka Steinbeisser is trying to erase the memory of last year’s meet. She’s the favorite again – as is boyfriend Garrison Hughes. Everyone’s still talking about his 17-foot clearance at last week’s divisional – the first Montanan to ever do it. He’ll take aim at the all-class state record of 16-4 Friday morning, but which event makes him more nervous?
“That’s pretty tough,” admitted Hughes. “Probably watching her, because I can’t control what she does. For myself, if something’s going wrong, I know I can fix it or I’ll talk to coach and we can come up with a solution. But watching her, I just sit there and hope she clears the bar. I have a lot of confidence, though, so I’m not terribly worried.”
He’ll be rooting hard for little brother Carter, as well, who has his eyes on the Class A shot put and discus records.
Laurel’s Levi Taylor has his eyes on the Class A 1,600-meter record.
We’ll be watching Miles City in the sprints — Keith Vanderlaan leads Class A in the 100, Kip Krebsbach in the 200. The Cowboys are also favorites in both relays and will factor into the team title race.
So should Miles City’s girls, thanks to their distance duo of Morgan Vosler and Heather Baker. Baker leads the 800 field, while Vosler will challenge in the 1,600 and 3,200.
Forsyth’s boys are the team favorites in Class B and many know why. Theoretically, twins Paul and Cade Johnstone could win eight events between them this weekend. The Dogies closest projected competitors? Huntley Project, thanks to the hurdles tandem of Brad Graves and Chris Hust. They’ll have to beat Big Timber’s Casey Gunlikson in the 300 hurdles. He also leads Class B in the 100 and 200.
And watch for Huntley Project’s Emily Poole, who leads the javelin and discus races, and isn’t bad in the shot put either.
The Class AA and C meets will be in Great Falls where the brand-new track has yielded incredible times over the past two weeks. That should make the battle between West’s Maddie Brockel and Skyview’s Breanne Fuller even better. Brockel beat Fuller by one hundredth of a second at the City Meet two weeks ago in Billings. Morgan Sulser’s 12.19 all-class record seems within reach.
And it could be a big weekend for the Roberts boys. Alex Kosel will compete for all three jumping titles and Gus Dines could win both distance races. Will that be enough to bring the Rockets a team title, too? Time will tell.