GREAT FALLS — If the first event at the State AA track and field meet is an indicator for how the rest of the weekend will go, fans in Great Falls are in for a treat.
Helena’s Kamden Hilborn hit a personal record (PR) in the pole vault at 12 feet, 3 inches on her second attempt to claim her first state track and field title, holding off a stiff test from Billings Senior’s Maisee Brown, who cleared 12 feet on her third attempt to force a de facto overtime.
“I’m really excited. It was my last high school pole vault competition and it meant a lot,” Hilborn said. “The competition was super strong (Thursday), so many girls PR’d, we all brought our ‘A game’ and we all performed to the best of our ability, and to go out like that is pretty exciting for me. I’m really happy with the way I performed (Thursday).”
Hilborn and Brown were the only two competitors to clear 11-09 and head to 12-00. Hilborn cleared the height on her second attempt and let out a whoop, with victory likely. But Brown cleared the height on her third and final attempt much to the delight of fans surrounding the vaulting area.
“The whole competition was crazy, I think,” Hilborn said. “Maisee hit a PR by like two whole heights at 12 feet, so it was crazy and I think it helped me out getting my adrenaline going a little bit.”
Brown came close at 12-03, but when she couldn’t get there on her third attempt Hilborn breathed a sigh of relief. She made three attempts at 12-08, but that would have just been icing on the cake with the title already in hand.
The pole vault championship is the latest hardware in an incredible senior year for Hilborn, who will suit up for the Montana State women’s basketball team next year. She won a state soccer championship last fall, a state basketball championship in the winter and now a pole vault title in the spring to pull off the senior year trifecta.
“Winning three titles wasn’t a goal of mine at the beginning, but I think everybody was hoping that it might happen,” laughed Hilborn. “And it’s really exciting and I never would have expected that. I’ve been blessed with some great coaches and some great athletes around me and I’m super thankful for that.”
Hilborn said the conditions were perfect for her event and she expects to see several PRs and broken records as the weekend progresses on the new track at Memorial Stadium.
“The new surface felt fast, I felt pretty fast on it,” Hilborn said. “The tailwind also probably helped and it was sunny and we haven’t had sun in a while, so overall it was a great day. The surface is super nice and the pit is great. The wind allowed me to get on some heavier poles that gave me a little more reaction time in the air and really helped me out.”