Montana’s high school district track meets kick off in exactly three weeks, with the District 2C track and field meet set to take place in Lambert on May 7. Athletes are beginning to round into form and post some eye-popping marks.
After a runner-up finish at last year’s State AA meet in the javelin, Missoula Sentinel’s Rylan Ortt has been atop the state since the beginning of the season. Against a stacked field at the MCPS Invite in Missoula, Ortt launched Montana’s best throw and asserted himself as the name to beat.
Familiar names performed well over the weekend on the girls side, too, as Bozeman’s Delaney Bahn and Missoula Sentinel’s Ashley McElmurry posted some of the state’s best marks. Bahn and McElmurry were outstanding last season and both will have state records in sight again this season.
With another busy week of high school track in the books, here are a few of the marks and performances that caught my eye.
- Missoula Sentinel’s Rylan Ortt suffered a bit of heartbreak at last year’s State AA meet, as he placed second in the javelin to Kalispell Glacier’s Evan Todd by less than two feet. Ortt has used that to fuel his success this season, as he threw a Montana-best 198 feet, 6 inches at Saturday’s MCPS Invite. He won the MCPS Invite against a loaded field that included Todd, teammate Brock Field, and Class A standouts Michael Graves of Hamilton and Cooper Hoffman of Dillon. Ortt, Graves and Todd marked the three best throws in Montana this season.
- Kalispell Flathead sprinter Chance Sheldon-Allen ran Montana’s fastest times in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes this past week, clocking in at 11.12 seconds in the 100 and 22.32 in the 200. Sheldon-Allen is currently the only Class AA athlete to have qualified for the state meet in the 200. The 100, though, is hotly contested and Sheldon-Allen will likely have to improve upon his time to maintain the lead in Class AA.
- Sidney’s Carter Hughes just keeps getting better. Hughes, who has won both the shot put and discus at the State A track meet each of the past two years, threw Montana bests in each event at the Billings Invitational on Saturday. The field of challengers appears to be as strong as Hughes has faced in high school, but he’s been in a class by himself of late. He’s been on the cusp of the State A record in both events and will likely be taking aim at those in late May.
- Levi Taylor is another Class A athlete defending a pair of titles, as Taylor won both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs at last spring’s State A meet. Taylor became the first Montanan in 2019 to run under two minutes in the 800-meter run, crossing in 1:59.53 in a Laurel Tuesday meet. Taylor now holds Montana’s top times in all three distance events, though two of those were set at the Arcadia Invitational in Los Angeles earlier this season.
- Zak Meeker won the 3,200 at last spring’s State B track and field meet, and Meeker looks even stronger this year. At Saturday’s Billings Invitational, Meeker ran Class B’s fastest time in the 800 (2 minutes, 1.75 seconds). Meeker now owns Class B’s top time in the 800 and 1,600 and sits No. 2 in the 3,200 behind Glasgow’s Ellis McKean. Meeker is carrying forward Manhattan’s tradition of strong distance runners.
- Bradley Graves is still Montana’s fastest hurdler. The Huntley Project standout won the 110-meter hurdles at the Billings Invitational on Saturday against a loaded field that featured six of the state’s top nine hurdlers. Graves is still the only hurdler in the state to run sub-15 seconds in the 110s, clocking in at 14.77. That time represents Graves’ second-best mark, just off his 14.64 that won the State B meet last spring.
- Seeley-Swan’s sprinters could do enough damage at May’s State C track and field meet to lead the Blackhawks to another trophy. Logan Robinson still holds Class C’s fastest times in the 100 and 200, but his teammates made an impact over the weekend. Dakota Wood and Hunter Shelmerdine each posted fantastic times at the Dave Tripp Memorial in Polson. Shelmerdine owns Class C’s best time in the 400, while Wood is seventh in the 200 and seventh in the 100. Seeley-Swan also has Class C’s fastest times in both relays.
- Twin Bridges senior Steve Smathers became the first Class C javelin thrower to qualify for the State C meet. Smathers unleashed a throw of 175-05 at the Park Invite in Livingston on Saturday and leads Class C by more than 13 feet over Park City’s Connor McNeil, who finished runner-up at last year’s state meet. Smathers will likely be looking to improve upon last year’s fifth-place finish at the State C meet.
- Delaney Bahn can do it all. The Bozeman senior not only has the springs for the field events, she has the jets for the sprints. Bahn set Montana bests in both the 100 and 200 over the weekend, clocking in at 12.47 and 25.94 seconds, respectively. Bahn is the first girl to go sub-26 in the 200 this season. Bahn also ran a 15.81 in the 100 hurdles, which is currently No. 4 in Class AA. Bahn already holds Class AA bests in the high jump and long jump, too.
- Missoula Sentinel’s Ashley McElmurry is right back to where she was last year. McElmurry finished runner-up to teammate Lauren Heggen in the triple jump last season and is already back near the top. McElmurry has the best jump on Montana soil this season (38-02), as Heggen’s Montana-leading leap came at the Arcadia Invitational in Los Angeles. McElmurry also has Class AA’s second-fastest time in the 100 hurdles (15.62).
- A familiar name sits atop Class A in the 3,200. Polson’s Bea Frissell, who won both the 1,600 and 3,200 at last spring’s State A meet, ran a Class A-best 11:24.59 in the 3,200 at the Kalispell Time Trial Invite on April 9, nearly 30 seconds ahead of Hamilton sophomore Brynnli Poulsen. Poulsen, though, has the edge over Frissell in the 1,600 currently by just over two seconds. Frissell and Poulsen look like early favorites in the distance events for Class A and will battle with each other throughout the season.
- Lewistown’s Anna and Kylie Zimmer have been having tremendous seasons in the shot put and discus. Anna, a senior, leads Class A in shot put but by only six inches over Kylie, a sophomore. Kylie owns Class A’s No. 2 mark in the discus to date with Anna in fourth. The Zimmer sisters and Corvallis standout Calla Haldorson are currently the only athletes to qualify for the State A meet in both events.
- L’Tia Lawrence can do more than just hoop. The Harlem junior set new Class B bests in the 1,600 and 3,200 at the Havre Lions meet on Saturday. Lawrence and Colstrip standout Whitney Hanson are the only two Class B girls qualified in the 1,600 and are separated by just over a second. Lawrence’s dominance is more glaring in the 3,200, as her time of 11:53.76 is nearly 30 seconds ahead of Colstrip’s Hayley Burns, who is the only other girl to qualify for the State B meet in the event.
- Three Forks’ Kendall and Keaton Lynn have proven that they’ll be competitors late into the track and field season. Kendall, a junior, ran Montana’s fifth-best time in the 300 hurdles at the Sunshine Meet in Laurel last Thursday and became only the second Class B girl to qualify for the State B meet in the triple jump. Kendall also jumped 16-06 in the long jump, Class B’s third-best mark to date. Keaton, a freshman, has Class B’s top time in the 400-meter dash and is one of four Class B girls to qualify in the long jump, joining sister Kendall, Baker’s Wrenzi Wrzesinski and Huntley Project freshman Macee Murphy.
- Winnett-Grass Range’s Zoe Delaney is starting to heat up on the track. Delaney has Class C’s top time in both the 400 and 800 and is No. 2 in both the 100 and 200 behind Chinook’s Megan Molyneaux. Delaney won the 100 and 400 at last spring’s State C meet and will likely be among the favorites again this year. Delaney and Molyneaux also became the first two Class C girls sprinters to qualify this season, as both qualified in the 100.
- Chester-Joplin-Inverness freshman Tatum Hull has burst onto the scene this spring. Hull excels in the 100 hurdles and the long and triple jumps. Currently, Hull owns Class C’s No. 2 time in the 100 hurdles at 16.46, No. 2 long jump at 17-03 and No. 2 triple jump at 34-05 ½. As Hull keeps performing well, it will be more likely that she makes a name for herself at the State C meet.