GREAT FALLS — The record-setting wasn’t as often as expected, but the record books were re-written on the opening day of the State AA track and field meet at Memorial Stadium on Friday.
Annie Hill and Camila Noe each raced against Christina Aragon during their prep careers, watching as the former Billings Senior state champion set numerous records during her high school years with the Broncs. But Hill and Noe added records of their own on Friday.
Hill, the Kalispell Glacier sensation, set a new stadium record in the 800-meter run, posting a time of 2 minutes, 10.94 seconds. Hill says she can still remember when the old stadium record was set.
“I was in the race when the last stadium record was set,” Hill laughed, recalling Aragon’s 2:11.90 in 2016. “She was such a great competitor, I really look up to her. It’s nice to get one of her records. She still has the state record, but I was happy with the time.”
Friday’s gold medal was Hill’s 15th in her track and field career, the fifth first-place finish. The two-time State AA cross country champion battled nagging injuries midway through high school, but battled back to enjoy one of the best running careers the Treasure State has seen.
Hill told MTN Sports in April she had been focusing on speed workouts this season, looking for stronger finishes in the 400 and 800, and shifting her strengths from the cross country terrain to the middle distance races on the track.
“Whatever season I’m in, that’s the one I like the most. During track it’s, ‘Oh, I like track.’ When I’m running cross country it’s, ‘Cross country is so awesome. I only have to run one race,’” laughed Hill. “It’s been really fun. The more I run a specific race, the more I like it. Right now the 800 is my favorite because I’m running it so much. I’m just happy to be able to do everything well.”
Hill and Glacier have finished runner-up in the Class AA team standings each of the last three seasons, but aren’t projected to earn a trophy on Saturday. Hill says not to count the Wolfpack out.
“I feel really grateful that we have a great team. We’re all really supportive of each other and I’m really excited to see how we end up. I just hope everyone does their best,” she said.
Hill earned a third-place finish in the 400, finishing behind champion Maddie Brockel of Billings West and Billings Senior’s Tavy Findon.
Bozeman’s Noe ran the fastest 3,200-meter run in Montana earlier this season, 10:21.76, and was seeking Aragon’s all-class record of 10:23.31. Noe, the Gatorade cross country runner of the year, found the proper pace early on, opening up a 100-meter lead over the field only a few laps in.
She spent the entire race by herself, lapping a large portion of the field in her final two trips around the track but couldn’t find the final lap needed to top Aragon’s mark. Noe finished in 10:30.29 to earn 10 points for the Hawks.
“I thought it went well. I was more aiming to getting the state record, but it was really hot. I was a little upset, but now that I’ve thought it over, I’m very happy winning the state title. It’s a pretty big honor,” said Noe.
The disappointment didn’t last long, as Noe was credited with breaking the Memorial Stadium record of 10:40 from former Kalispell Flathead star Zoe Nelson. Still, with cooler temperatures and perhaps more competition, Noe believes the record could have been hers.
“I kind of like running on my own sometimes, but it definitely helps having people like Annie (Hill) or Tiahna (Vladic) running with you,” she said of running alone out front. “It felt good, but I think it was the heat (Friday).”
Noe will look to add another individual title in the 1,600-meter run on Saturday.
Missoula Sentinel’s Shelby Schweyen earns high jump title
All eyes were on the girls Class AA high jump competition Friday afternoon, giving Shelby Schweyen some added motivation.
The Missoula Sentinel multi-sport standout was in the field with Bozeman’s Lucy Corbett, who was expected to make a run at the all-class record of 5 feet, 9 1/2 inches by Kari Shepherd in 1983. Record or not, Schweyen wasn’t going to go down without a fight.
After suffering an ACL tear in the fall of her sophomore year, Schweyen battled nagging pains to return to the track this year. She set a personal-best of 5-07 at last week’s Western AA divisional and remained in Friday’s field to the final three, joining Bozeman stars Delaney Bahn and Corbett.
Schweyen cleared her first attempt at 5-07, while Corbett missed hers. The Bozeman senior was successful on her next jump, and Bahn also cleared the bar to move to 5-09. None of the three were successful at the height, giving the title to Schweyen due to less misses at the lower heights.
“I was so excited. I’ve been thinking about this and wanting to do it for a long time,” said Schweyen. “After missing last year, I never stopped thinking about it. It’s been in my mind forever and to finally do it was crazy.”
Schweyen, who was given a verbal commitment to the Montana Lady Grizzlies’ basketball program, said she found her stride at the divisional meet and carried it into this weekend. She will compete in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, as well as the 1,600-meter relay, on Saturday, where the Spartans are expected to run away with the team title.
“This group of girls is amazing, it’s really something special,” Schweyen said. “We have throwers putting up points — shot put, discus and javelin — we have girls running events on the track and being in the field. It’s amazing to be surrounded by a great group of girls like this and I’m excited to see what we can do (Saturday).”
Delaney Bahn pushes state long jump record
Bahn was another athlete eying an all-class record, hers in the long jump. After finishing third in the high jump and running the prelims of the 200-meter dash, the Bozeman junior drew a large crowd to the long jump pits.
Bahn had cleared 19-02 earlier this season, surpassing the Class AA record of 18-11 1/4, as well as the all-class record of 18-11 3/4. She came within an inch of adding her name to the record books, leaping 18-10 3/4 to win the competition.
Billings West girls break 400-meter relay record, again
It would be challenging for Maddie Brockel to pick her favorite event, but the Billings West senior would have to at least consider the short relay.
Brockel, along with Ellie Scherffius and Maddie and Willa Albrecht, broke the all-class record in the 400-meter relay on Friday morning, a mark set by the Golden Bears just last season. Brockel ran the anchor leg, finishing the relay in 47.56.
Brockel and Scherffius were on West’s relay team last year, setting a new all-class time of 48.18. Brockel was also on the relay the year prior, when West tied the all-class record.
Brockel won the 400 on Friday, and will be the favorite in the 100 and 200 on Saturday. She has won the past three Class AA 200-meter dash titles.
Damien Nelson breaks 100-meter dash record
Great Falls CMR senior sprinter Damien Nelson had his sights set on Montana’s all-class record in the 100-meter dash, aiming to take down former Rustler Chris Wilson’s time of 10.67. Nelson posted a 10.61 earlier this season but knew state records must be set at the state meet.
The speedster left little doubt Friday afternoon, clocking a 10.66 in the prelims to set the first all-class record of the state track season.
“It felt good — just having (Kalispell Glacier sprinters Ethan Larson and Mark Estes) really push me, knowing that they’re one of the best in the state like I am,” Nelson said. “It felt really good to have those two beside me.”
For more on Nelson’s record, please click here.
Justin Jenks entertains shot put crowd
With the all-class state record holder in attendance, Helena Capital shot put thrower Justin Jenks set a new personal-best in the event. Jenks threw 64 feet, 3 1/2 inches to easily win the event, which drew one of the larger crowds on Friday. Fans were hoping to see Jenks threaten Dennis Black’s record of 68 1/2, set in 1991.
“That mark of Justin’s, it was a heck of a throw,” said Black. “It puts him at No. 3 all-time in state history behind my mark and Shane Collins of Bozeman, who in 1987 went 66 feet, 1 inch at divisionals, then 64-07 here at the state meet. Justin is a fantastic competitor and has a heck of a future ahead of him.”
“It’s amazing to have the record-holder show up and congratulate you, recognize that you did good. That was cool,” added Jenks.
For more from Jenks and Black, please click here.
Other key winners from Friday’s opening day can be found below.
- Bozeman senior Lance McCutcheon won a loaded field in the boys’ long jump competition. McCutcheon jumped 22 feet, 6 inches to win the event.
- McCutcheon’s distance-running teammate, Duncan Hamilton, added another Bozeman state title in the 1,600-meter run. Hamilton ran 4:13.55, flirting with the stadium record (4:13.30) and all-class record (4:12.06).
- Kalispell Glacier is expected to run away with the boys team title, and the Wolfpack opened with a good start. Glacier set a new stadium record in the 400 relay, running 41.68. The state record is 41.48.
- Glacier finished first, second and third in the 400-meter dash, the final track event on Friday. Drew Turner won the race, clocking a 48.80, while Mark Estes and Ethan Larson added 14 points to the Wolfpack’s total.
- Helena sophomore Trey Tintinger repeated as the Class AA high jump champion, out-dueling Billings Skyview’s Julian Mims. Tintinger cleared 6-09 and took three attempts at 7-01, but missed each.
- Missoula Sentinel’s Emily Malone won the girls javelin competition, launching a 141-09 to win the event.
- Butte’s Ty Peterson outlasted Helena High’s Caleb Ferguson in the pole vault. Ferguson actually cleared 15 feet before Peterson, but the Bulldog standout was successful at 15-06 for the title.
For Friday’s complete results from all four state track meets, please click here.