GREAT FALLS — On Saturday at the State AA track and field meet in Great Falls, CMR senior Damien Nelson set the new all-class state record in the 100-meter dash, posting a 10.5-second time and shattering the 10.66 mark he set one day earlier.
It was vindication for the fleet-footed Rustler who wanted to set the record as a junior in 2017 but was nursing a pulled hamstring that prevented him from achieving his goal.
“I wasn’t healthy going into state last year and eventually it showed,” Nelson told MTN Sports. “So I just knew I needed to stay healthy and be warm so that when it came time for the competition I’d be ready to compete at a high level this year.”
That was Nelson’s mindset on the track and, sure enough, when he crossed the finish line on Saturday the record looked effortless. He broke the 10-year-old mark of 10.67 seconds set by former Rustler Chris Wilson in 2009.
The 100-meter dash is one of the hardest records to break because there’s so little time and so little distance to work with. But Nelson had Wilson’s mark in his sights from the moment he stepped on the track as a freshman. When Nelson won his first of three consecutive 100-meter dash titles and flirted with sub-11 second times, Wilson reached out encouraging Nelson to beat the record.
“I think I did it because Chris did it, too,” Nelson said. “He put up a time that no one thought anyone would be able to touch and set it up for people to push themselves to hit it. I think just to follow in his footsteps was huge for me. I hope someone in the future breaks my record and has that same drive that I did.”
Though Nelson took down the 100-meter dash mark, Wilson still holds the all-class record in the 200 with a 21.06-second time. That mark will likely be safe for at least a few more years.
Despite success on the track, Nelson has football on the brain. He’s off to Havre in the fall to join the new-look MSU-Northern Lights as a defensive back.
“I can’t wait to get down there to play with coach (Andrew) Rolin and the rest of the guys they recruited,” Nelson said. “I hope they’re ready for me as much as I’m ready for them. I really can’t wait to get down there and go to work.”