The high school track and field season in Montana is at the halfway point this weekend, and some prestigious meets lie ahead.
There will likely be a showdown between Montana’s top two high jumpers in Butte on Friday afternoon to see who can gain the head-to-head advantage going into the season’s final stretch.
This weekend could also potentially pit three of the best girls jumpers in Class AA against each other in Great Falls as they jockey for position atop Montana’s performance lists.
With good weather on tap for the weekend, athletes should post some outstanding marks.
- Helena High’s Trey Tintinger has had a stranglehold on the Class AA high jump over the past two-plus seasons. Tintinger will likely square off with the first real threat to his supremacy on Saturday, Billings Skyview’s Julius Mims. Mims jumped 6 feet, 10 inches earlier this season and recently cleared 6-08. Tintinger won the Arcadia Invitiational on April 6 with a leap of 6-11. Both will likely take aim at the Swede Dahlberg Invitational meet record of 6-10 ¼, set by Missoula Hellgate’s Mark Koefelda in 1993.
- The 100-meter dash at Friday’s Swede Dahlberg Invitational in Butte should be one of the day’s better races. Kalispell Flathead’s Chance Sheldon-Allen holds the top time in Montana this year at 11.12 seconds, but there are five more athletes within 0.15 seconds of Sheldon-Allen. Sheldon-Allen also holds the top 200-meter dash time in Montana this season. This weekend represents a chance for Sheldon-Allen to establish himself as the Class AA favorite in the sprints, and for others to emerge as the favorite.
- Defending Class A 100- and 200-meter dash state champion Keith Vanderlaan of Miles City has gotten off to a slower start than anticipated. Vanderlaan’s best time in the 100 is 11.51, which he ran at the Billings invitational on April 13, the only meet Vanderlaan has competed in according to www.athletic.net. He’s slated to run both the 100 and 200 at Thursday’s Sidney Invite, but for Vanderlaan to get back to the top of Class A he’ll need to surpass Frenchtown’s Jace Klucewich, who ran 11.13 on April 13.
- Dillon has had a few athletes this year that have stood out. Dylan Cervelli and Justus and Alfred Peterson see their names toward the top of several events in Class A. Livingston sophomore Jack Waddell has the Beavers in his sights, though. Waddell will likely go up against Alfred in the long jump, where Alfred’s 21-10 is Class A’s best and Waddell sits seventh. Waddell will also likely face Justus and Cervelli in the 200. Justus’ time of 23.21 is second only to Frenchtown’s Jace Klucewich, while Cervelli is just behind Peterson at 23.29. Waddell’s time of 23.81 is ninth in Class A.
- It seems as if it’s been highlighted several times already this season, but the ongoing duel between Big Timber’s Casey Gunlikson and Huntley Project’s Austin Hernandez is one to watch. Gunlikson and Hernandez own the top two times in both the 100 and 200 this year in Class B. Gunlikson won the first head-to-head meeting in the 100 but lost by 0.1 in the 200 at the Billings West Small School meet on April 2. The two are slated to meet again at Thursday’s Laurel Invite. As it sits now, Gunlikson and Hernandez are the favorites in Class B.
- Townsend’s Kameron Rauser finished third at last year’s State B meet in the 400-meter dash and has hopes of improving upon that. At this Friday’s Gallatin Valley Invitational, Rauser will likely square off with Lewistown’s Tanner Trafton. Trafton is one of Class A’s better 800 runners and has had success early this year in the 400. Although Rauser has only competed once this year so far, this will be a good barometer for both athletes at the midpoint of the season.
- Two of Class C’s fastest boys will potentially go head-to-head on Saturday afternoon in Missoula at the Seeley-Swan High School Invitational. Seeley-Swan’s Logan Robinson owns Class C’s best time in the 100, having run 11.29 on April 16. Robinson will likely face St. Regis junior Ian Farris, who finished second at last spring’s State C meet. This could be just the first of many meetings between the Western C foes.
- Another highly anticipated head-to-head battle could unfold this weekend when Great Falls Central’s Noah Ambuehl and Melstone’s Brody Grebe compete in the shot put at the Laurel Invite on Thursday. Ambuehl won the shot put at last year’s State C meet while Grebe placed fourth. Currently, Grebe has Class C’s No. 2 throw and Ambuehl is fourth.
- The Optimist Invite in Great Falls on Friday afternoon will feature some of Class AA’s best. One of the more crowded events is the girls 100. Bozeman’s Delaney Bahn set a new state-best time of 12.47 seconds on April 13, but there are five other girls under 13 seconds. Billings West twins Willa and Maddie Albrecht and Helena Capital’s Audrey Bloomquist will likely be the biggest challengers to Bahn. Bahn, the Albrechts and Bloomquist could also potentially meet in the 200. With so much firepower, it’s possible we see new state bests set at the Optimist Invite.
- Bahn is not only Class AA’s top sprinter, she is also atop the high jump and long jump. The long jump at the Optimist Invite will potentially feature Bahn and Missoula Sentinel standouts Lauren Heggen and Ashley McElmurry. Bahn won the long jump at last spring’s State AA meet, while McElmurry finished second and Heggen fourth. At this meet last year Bahn jumped 19-02, the No. 3 jump in Montana history, according to the Montana High School Association. A loaded field could lead to Bahn’s Class AA lead being surpassed.
- Saturday’s Gallatin Valley Invitational will potentially feature a pair of Class A’s best sprinters. Dillon’s Tylia DeJohn, who won the 200 and placed second in the 100 at last spring’s State A meet, and Havre’s Jessalyn Chvilicek could meet in the 100. DeJohn is the only Class A sprinter faster than 13 seconds in the 100 this year (12.74), while Chvilicek is second at 13.02. DeJohn has been dominant in her high school career in the 100, as she only lost once last year – to teammate Hayle Sundquist at the state meet. DeJohn can cement herself as the Class A favorite once again with a strong performance.
- Thursday afternoon’s Sapphire Twilight Invitational in Corvallis will potentially feature Class A’s two best distance runners. Polson’s Bea Frissell, who won both the 1,600 and 3,200 at last spring’s State A meet, and Hamilton’s Brynnli Poulsen will likely square off. Frissell was the favorite entering the season, but Poulsen, just a sophomore, owns Class A’s best time in the 1,600, just more than two seconds ahead of Frissell. Frissell, though, owns a 30-second advantage in the 3,200. According to www.athletic.net, Frissell has only competed at the Kalispell Time Trial Invite, and she blew away the competition in both events. Better competition from Poulsen could push Frissell back toward her personal bests.
- Huntley Project’s Macee Murphy has been outstanding in her freshman season. Murphy owns Class B’s best mark in both the long jump and triple jump. She will take on a crowded field at the Laurel Invite on Thursday, but it’s an opportunity for her to improve upon her state-leading jumps. Murphy’s toughest competition will likely come from Laurel’s Gracey Willis, who is third in Class A this year.
- Cut Bank’s Kamdyn Molenda leads Class B in the 100 with a time of 12.90 seconds. Chinook’s Megan Molyneaux leads Class C with a time of 13.00. Molenda has gotten the better of Molyneaux in the duo’s first two meetings this season. Both Molenda and Molyneaux have continued to lower their times throughout the season, and that could be expected at the Cut Bank Pre-Easter meet on Thursday afternoon when the two likely meet up again.
- Two of Class C’s top throwers will likely be in action at the Seeley-Swan High School Invitational in Missoula on Saturday. Arlee’s Peyton Lammerding holds Class C’s top mark in the shot put at 36-08 ½, while Seeley-Swan’s Klaire Kovatch holds the top mark in the discus (124-11 ½) with Lammerding fifth. Kovatch won the State C discus last year as a freshman with a throw of 135-03 and is well ahead of the field this season. Lammerding, a junior, finished second in shot put at last spring’s state meet. Both are looking to exceed personal-best distances and could do so this weekend.
- The pole vault at Saturday’s Seeley-Swan High School Invitational will potentially feature the top pole vaulter in Class C, Seeley-Swan’s Terra Bertsch, and the top vaulter in Class B, Deer Lodge’s Kamryn Scully. Bertsch comfortably leads Class C and her vault of 10-00 is a personal best. Scully’s vault of 10-00 ties a personal best she set last season. However, both could need a new personal best to come away victorious in Missoula on Saturday.