GREAT FALLS – Montana closed the book on another high school sports season Saturday, with state championships and record-breaking performances littering the landscape. But it also said goodbye to two of the best Billings athletes of their generation.
Billings West’s Maddie Brockel and Billings Senior’s Gabe Sulser went out with a bang at the State AA track and field meet in Great Falls. Sulser won his second 110-meter hurdles title, missing the all-class record by one one-hundredth of a second.
Brockel, meanwhile, won her seventh, eighth, and ninth individual track titles, plus her sixth relay gold. That’s 15 state championships in four years – and no, she never gets tired of it.
“It’s definitely a great accomplishment, I’m very happy I was able to do it,” said Brockel after winning the 100, 200, and 400 meters Saturday. “There’s a lot of tough competition here, so it just never gets old. It’s an awe moment every time, and I’m happy that I can do that every year.”
Both battled back from injuries to star at state. Brockel took most of the season off to recover from a torn ACL she sustained during the fall, while Sulser didn’t know until Friday morning if he would be able to compete at all.
“I actually pulled my hamstring at (the Midland Roundtable Top 10 meet) pretty bad,” Sulser said. “When it happened, I didn’t think I was going to get a shot at the state meet. A little rest never really hurts. I haven’t ran the last three weeks, and I think honestly it helped me. I’m a little out of shape, but for this short race, it kind of helps you get re-juiced and able to go fast again.”
Sulser’s track career is now over, as he heads to Missoula to play football for the Montana Grizzlies in the fall. Fans will see plenty more of Brockel, though – in Montana State Bobcat blue and gold for the next four years.