Helena High freshman Trey Tintinger set the new all-class state record by clearing 7 feet, 1.5 inches in the high jump at the State AA track and field meet at Butte. (RICHIE MELBY/MTN Sports)As the MontanaSports.com team highlighted earlier in the week, there are several athletes returning to defend multiple state track and field championships. There are also a few notable athletes taking aim at three consecutive titles in the same event. With the dawn of track and field season upon us, here’s some of the top storylines to watch throughout the season.
- Just a junior, Helena High’s Trey Tintinger is already a well-decorated high jumper. Tintinger has won back-to-back State AA titles, and as a freshman he set the all-class state record with a leap of 7 feet, 1.5 inches. Tintinger is also a three-time national champion, as he’s won his age division high jump championship at the USA Track and Field Hershey National Junior Olympics Championships each of the past three years. Tintinger can join Skip Grodahl of Havre (1969-71), Mark Koefelda of Missoula Hellgate (1991-93) and Darrell Weatherwax of Great Falls Central and Browning (2007-09) as the only three-time high jump state champions in Montana history, according to the MHSA.
- Miles City’s boys sprinters put on a show at last spring’s State A meet in Laurel. Keith Vanderlaan won both the 100- and 200-meter dashes, barely edging out teammate Kip Krebsbach at the line in the 200. Vanderlaan will enter the season as the favorite in both events, as will the Cowboys’ 400-meter relay team, which won in 2018. Three of Miles City’s four sprinters return to the team, with Krebsbach having graduated. Jess Bellows, Aidan Barrows, Vanderlaan and Krebsbach set the State A record last year in the prelims with a time of 42.62 seconds before winning in the finals with a 42.72.
- Sidney’s Carter Hughes, too, can join the three-time state champion club in Montana. Hughes won both the shot put and discus in 2017 and 2018 and will be the favorite this season. Hughes also has the state record for both events in sight. Hughes’ personal best in the shot put of 58-06 is exactly half an inch farther than the current state record, which was set in 2014 by Livingston’s Chris Emter. His discus best of 179-0 is on the heels of Colstrip’s Jason Small, who set the State A record in 1996 with a toss of 182-07. Hughes can cement himself in Montana history as one of Class A’s best throwers with another tremendous season.
- Casey Gunlikson won three state titles at the State B meet in 2018 for Big Timber and is taking aim at three more. Gunlikson won the 100, 200 and 300 hurdles, while also running on Big Timber’s sixth-place 400-meter relay team and fourth-place 1,600-meter relay team. Gunlikson has records in sight this season, though. The State B record in the 100 is 11.01, held by Deer Lodge native and current Butte head football coach Arie Grey. Gunlikson ran 11.02 in the prelims last year. His 200 time of 22.4 is just shy of Fort Benton’s Troy Estell, who holds the record at 22.22. It could be a record-breaking spring for Big Timber’s star sprinter.
- The Ennis boys have won four consecutive State C team titles. Last spring’s was impressive, as the Wood brothers, Corbin and Tanner, were Ennis’ only two athletes to score a point. With the twins gone, who will step up to continue the strong tradition Ennis has built on the track? It seems as if the State C boys team title could belong to someone other than the Mustangs for the first time since Charlo won in 2014.
- Lauren Heggen had quite the performance at last spring’s State AA meet. The Missoula Sentinel star won the 100-meter hurdles and the triple jump, helping lead the Spartans to their second consecutive team title. Heggen’s triple jump victory came in dramatic fashion. Teammate Ashley McElmurry broke the all-class record previously held by Kellee Glaus with a leap of 39 feet, 5.25 inches, but Heggen followed McElmurry with another record-breaking jump (39-07) to steal the title. Both McElmurry and Heggen will be among the favorites in the hurdles and triple jump.
- Bozeman’s Delaney Bahn had some remarkable performances last spring, too. Bahn nearly broke Julie Lenenger’s long jump state record en route to the State AA title in May. Earlier in the year, Bahn posted the third-farthest jump by a female in Montana history, according to MHSA, when she flew 19-02 at the Swede Dahlberg Invitational. It was the first jump over 19 feet in 40 years. Bahn’s springs are also on display in the high jump, where she placed third at last spring’s state meet by clearing 5-07.
- Baker’s Wrenzi Wrzesinski is also looking to join the three-time state champion club. Wrzesinski won both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles as sophomore and junior at the State B meet and is the favorite to grab a third consecutive in each. As a sophomore, Wrzesinski also ran on Baker’s third-place 400-meter relay team and fourth-place 1,600-meter relay team. She also won the 100 and placed second in the 200. As a junior, Wrzesinski finished second in long jump, third in the 200 and fourth in the 100. In two months, it’s possible she could be a state champion in five events.
- Emily Poole is following in her sister’s footsteps quite nicely. Hailey Poole won back-to-back titles in the discus and javelin to finish out her high school career. Emily, now a junior at Huntley Project, won both the discus and javelin last spring and will again be among the favorites. She also placed third in the shot put. As a freshman, Emily finished second in the discus to Hailey and finished fifth in javelin.
- West Yellowstone’s Averi Parker, too, is following her older sister’s path well. From 2013-16, Bailey Parker won four consecutive titles in the 1,600. She also won the 800 her first three years in high school and won the 3,200 her final three years. Averi won the 3,200 as a freshman and placed third in the 1,600. Last year, as a sophomore, Averi won both the 1,600 and 3,200. Averi can join her sister as a three-time champion in the 3,200 and can add her second consecutive 1,600 title this spring.