Temperatures are rising across the state, and so are the expectations around Montana’s high school track and field athletes.
The opening weeks of the season saw athletes post exceptional marks on both the track and in the field. As the season progresses, times are expected to drop and distances are expected to rise.
Another busy weekend of high school track and field looms, and there could potentially be some outstanding head-to-head matchups once again.
- Billings Skyview junior Julius Mims has thrust himself into the forefront of the Class AA high jump after leaping 6 feet, 10 inches on April 6 at the 4B’s meet. Mims is just one inch behind Helena High’s two-time defending champion Trey Tintinger for Montana’s best jump of the year. Mims can prove his 6-10 leap wasn’t a fluke at this weekend’s Billings Invite, where he will likely be the overwhelming favorite.
- Kalispell Flathead’s Chance Sheldon-Allen ran Montana’s fastest time in the 100-meter dash on Tuesday afternoon, clocking in at 11.12 seconds at the Kalispell time Trial Invite. Sheldon-Allen beat Frenchtown sophomore Jace Klucewich (11.47) in that meet, but Klucewich will likely have another shot at Sheldon-Allen at the MCPS Invite in Missoula. Two of Montana’s premier sprinters will likely be on display Saturday afternoon, along with Missoula Sentinel’s Payton Ater and Neil Daily.
- Hamilton’s Michael Graves has picked up right where he left off last year. Graves took second at last spring’s State A meet in the javelin and currently holds Montana’s farthest throw of 2019. The field at Saturday’s MCPS Invite in Missoula is stacked, though, with five of Montana’s top six javelin throwers. Graves will potentially face the likes of Class AA standouts Evan Todd of Kalispell Glacier and Rylan Ortt and Brock Field of Missoula Sentinel. There will be some Class A competition, too, as Columbia Falls’ Drew Morgan holds Montana’s No. 3 throw.
- Miles City finished second at last spring’s State A meet, led primarily by its strong group of sprinters. The Cowboys will have some competition at Saturday’s Billings Invite, though. Miles City senior Keith Vanderlaan swept the 100 and 200 last year, but he likely won’t be able to cruise to victory on Saturday. He could potentially face Huntley Project standout Austin Hernandez, who has Montana’s No. 3 time in the 100 and No. 4 time in the 200. Vanderlaan ran 10.97 at last year’s state meet and Hernandez ran 11.14 at last year’s district meet, so a sub-11-second time is certainly possible.
- Huntley Project’s sprinters and hurdlers have dominated early this season. The 110-meter hurdles race at Saturday’s Billings Invite will be one to watch. Huntley Project could have Bradley Graves, Chris Hust Sr. and Noah Bouchard competing, and all stand inside Montana’s top 15 this season. Joining the Huntley Project hurdlers could potentially be Billings Skyview’s Caden Olsen, Billings West’s Peter Demars and Laurel’s Chris Abell, meaning that five of the state’s top six hurdle times could be in the same race.
- Fairfield’s sprinters have also gotten off to a scorching start in 2019. Dawson Allen and Ryder Meyer sit 3-4 in Class B in the 100 and the Eagles’ 400-meter relay team narrowly missed becoming the second Class B team to qualify for the State B meet (Huntley Project). Allen, Meyer and the rest of Fairfield’s sprinters could put up some blistering times on Saturday at the Choteau Open, as the Eagles continue to push each other on the track.
- Valley Christian’s Benjamin Tuinstra won the State C 110-meter hurdles last spring with a time of 15.54 seconds. Tuinstra has nearly matched that time already this season, as his 15.57 is tops in Class C. Tuinstra could potentially face Whitefish’s Lee Walburn at the MCPS Invite on Saturday afternoon. Tuinstra and Walburn have western Montana’s top two times in the 110 hurdles so far. Kalispell Glacier’s Drew Deck could also be in the race, giving Tuinstra an opportunity to prove he is among Montana’s elite hurdlers, regardless of class.
- Denton-Geyser-Stanford junior Dylan Taylor has Class C’s third-fastest time in the 200 this year and the No. 4 100 time. Taylor will have an opportunity to improve upon those times this weekend, as he will potentially square off with Fairfield studs Dawson Allen and Ryder Meyer at the Choteau Open on Saturday afternoon. Taylor has yet to qualify for the State C meet in the 100, but this will be as good an opportunity as he will have all season.
- LaKeema Williams has Class AA’s top discuss toss this season and is the head of a strong group of Billings West throwers. Williams, though, will have to battle to win the Billings Invite on Saturday afternoon, as the meet will likely feature Huntley Project’s Emily Poole, Lewistown’s Kylie Zimmer and Colstrip’s Jamie Whitedirt. Those four throwers all rank inside Montana’s top six in the discus this season and will likely push for season bests this weekend.
- Billings West is strong on the track, too. Willa and Maddie Albrecht rank 3-4 in Montana in the 100 heading into Saturday’s Billings Invite, but the Albrecht sisters will likely have some tremendous competition. Billings Central sophomore Kellan Wahl and Shepherd senior Maddisen Marema will likely compete against Willa and Maddie in what will be one of the more anticipated girls 100s of the season. Marema is the defending Class B champion, while Wahl finished third at last spring’s State A meet as a freshman.
- The MCPS Invite on Saturday in Missoula will likely feature some of the state’s best throwers on the girls side. Corvallis standout Calla Haldorson, who is chasing a fourth consecutive Class A title in the discus, will potentially be just one of many in a talented field of throwers. Other girls to watch include Kalispell Glacier’s Mya Mcneely and Katie Dixon, Kalispell Flathead’s Kayla Martin and Class A foe Angellica Street of Columbia Falls. With a talented field, there could be some season bests on Saturday in Missoula.
- The girls 400-meter dash at the MCPS Invite on Saturday will potentially be one of the best races of the weekend. It could feature seven of Class A’s top eight times in the 400, including Whitefish senior Lauren Schulz, who won the 400 at last spring’s State A meet. Columbia Falls junior Josie Windauer, though, will come in with Class A’s top time in the event and is the only Class A girl to qualify to date. However, that could change with a loaded field competing against each other.
- Class B’s top throwers will likely meet again this weekend at the Billings Invite on Saturday afternoon. Huntley Project’s Emily Poole and Colstrip’s Jamie Whitedirt could square off in the discus and shot put. Poole ranks first in discus and Whitedirt second, while Whitedirt has Class B’s top shot put throw and Poole is second. Poole and Whitedirt will likely see two of Class A’s best shot put throwers, too, as Lewistown’s Zimmer sisters, Kylie and Anna, will likely throw at Saturday’s meet.
- Cut Bank senior Kamdyn Molenda owns Class B’s top time in the 100 and sits tied for sixth in Montana this season. Molenda will get competition outside the Class B ranks at the Havre Lions meet on Saturday, as she’ll likely meet Chinook’s Megan Molyneaux for the second time this season. Molyneaux sits second in Class C this season in the 100. Molenda is one of just two Class B girls to qualify in the 100 this season, the other being Baker’s Wrenzi Wrzesinski.
- Fort Benton’s girls team has names scattered across Class C’s top 10 in several events. The Longhorns narrowly missed out on the team title at last spring’s State C meet but look like an early favorite in 2019. Fort Benton can flex its muscles against some of the Hi-Line’s Class A and Class B teams on Saturday at the Havre Lions meet. Fort Benton features both the depth and talent to compete for a Class C team title in late May. One race to watch could be in the girls 1,600-meter relay, as Fort Benton and Belt hold Class C’s third- and fourth-best times in 2019. The Longhorns won both relays at the 2018 State C meet.
- Two of western Montana’s top Class C teams will battle it out at the Dave Tripp Memorial on Friday afternoon in Polson, as Charlo and Seeley-Swan will be among the teams in the field. Charlo finished fourth at last year’s State C meet and looks primed to make a run at the team title this season. Carlee Fryberger and Kaitlin Cox have been solid for the Vikings this season already, ranking in the top five in multiple events and leading Charlo to the fastest 400-meter relay time to date. Seeley-Swan is led by Terra Bertsch and Klaire Kovatch, who lead the pole vault and discus in Class C, respectively. Bertsch also has Class C’s No. 2 high jump. Seeley-Swan and Charlo will likely be teams to watch for the Western C divisional title later this season, too.
Of note: 24 teams took to Laurel on Thursday afternoon in the Sunshine Meet. Recap and results of the Sunshine Meet can be found here.