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What I’ll be watching: District track meets boast great matchups

Posted at 7:06 PM, May 09, 2019
Polson senior Bea Frissell is congratulated by her coach after breaking her own school record in the 3,200-meter run at the Whitefish ARM. (ALEC BOFINGER/MTN Sports)

Postseason high school track and field is here for Classes B and C. For those in Classes AA and A, this weekend represents one final chance to perform well before divisional meets fire up next week.

There will be some great head-to-head matchups at the district meets this weekend. Harlem’s Brad Cichosz takes on Glasgow’s McKean brothers in the 1,600-meter run. Cichosz and Ellis and Merlin McKean make up three of the top four in Class B. Scobey’s Martin Farver has been the fastest guy in Class C so far, but can he keep outshining his teammates’ stellar performances?

At the District 4B meet, three of Class B’s fastest girls will be on display. Defending Class B 100-meter dash champion Maddisen Marema of Shepherd will have her work cut out for her. Over in District 13C, Seeley-Swan and Darby boast two of Class C’s best hurdlers.

Just two weeks remain before the state meets get started on May 23. Here are some of the matchups and athletes I’ll have an eye on during the postseason’s first weekend.

Boys

Class AA

  • Billings Skyview’s Caden Olsen has been atop Class AA in the 110-meter hurdles since running it in 15.0 seconds at the 4B’s meet on April 6. He has since lowered his time to 14.95. Olsen, though, will likely face off against Billings West’s Jaromy Coomes and Peter Demars, who rank second and fifth in Class AA, respectively, at the Billings City Meet on Thursday. Olsen can solidify his place atop Class AA with a strong performance on Thursday afternoon.
  • Billings West’s Connor Ryan holds the fastest 100-meter dash in Class AA this season at 10.9 seconds. Ryan is the only Class AA guy with multiple times in the 100 of less than 11 seconds. The field for the 100 will potentially be loaded at the Billings City Meet on Thursday and could feature five of Class AA’s 10 fastest guys. Ryan’s best time, though, is just .35 seconds ahead of teammate Clint Ambuehl’s time, as Ambuehl sits at No. 10 in Class AA. This race should be thrilling.

Class A

  • Laurel’s Levi Taylor and Lewistown’s Tanner Trafton delivered a spectacular 800-meter race at the John Polich Invitational in Miles City on May 4. Taylor posted Montana’s best time at 1 minute, 57.25 seconds, while Trafton came in at No. 3 in Montana in 1:58.85. Taylor and Trafton could be back at it again this weekend at the Jockstop Invitational in Glendive on Saturday. Taylor and Trafton have both qualified for the State A meet in Laurel later this month and will be at the Eastern A divisional meet next week, so the battles between these two are likely just getting started.
  • The Belgrade Senior Night track meet on Friday will feature the Panthers, Dillon, Butte Central and Livingston. Livingston’s Jack Waddell and Dillon’s Dylan Cervelli stand at Nos. 2 and 3 in Class A in the 400-meter dash this season and could face off on Friday. Waddell and Cervelli are two of just three Class A sprinters to run the 400 in less than 51 seconds this season. Can either Waddell or Cervelli crack the 50-second mark in the event?

Class B

  • The District 2B track and field meet in Wolf Point on Saturday will likely feature three of Class B’s best distance runners. Glasgow’s McKean brothers, Ellis and Merlin, rank Nos. 2 and 3 in the 1,600-meter run so far this season. Potentially racing against the McKean brothers is Harlem’s Brad Cichosz, who is No. 4 in the 1,600 in Class B. The McKean brothers will also likely face off against Cichosz in the 3,200-meter run, as all three are in Class B’s top 10 in that event. Ellis, Merlin and Cichosz could push for a state-best time in the 1,600 on Saturday. All three have already qualified in the 1,600 for the State B meet in Kalispell later this month.
  • Troy senior Hunter Leighty is in the top five of Class B in both the 200- and 400-meter dashes. Leighty, though, will likely face off with a pair of Missoula Loyola sprinters on Saturday at the Bigfork Invitational. Leighty has been among the best 400 runners in the state this season and holds the No. 2 time in Class B at 50.5 seconds. He’ll likely face off with Loyola’s Cooper Waters, though, as Waters tries to qualify for the State B meet. Leighty is No. 5 in the 200 and has yet to qualify, but facing off with Loyola’s Hunter Mahan could push Leighty below the qualifying standard of 23.2 seconds.

Class C

  • Scobey senior Martin Farver owns Class C’s top time in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, as well as the No. 2 time in the 400-meter dash and No. 4 time in the 110-meter hurdles. Farver has continued to drop his times throughout the season, and teammate Max Cole is likely a big reason why. Cole sits just behind Farver in the 110 hurdles at No. 5 and is No. 4 in the 100. Farver has been tremendous all year, but can he continue his dominance at the District 3C meet in Wolf Point on Saturday and hold off Cole?
  • Augusta senior Ezra Bolles popped out a 15-foot personal best in the discus on May 3 and leads Class C with a throw of 159 feet, 5 inches, which is more than 23 feet farther than the No. 2 throw in Class C. Bolles was among the leaders in Class C last season but finished 10th at the State C meet after a disappointing performance. Bolles appears focused this year and is now the overwhelming favorite for the State C discus title. It all starts at the District 10C track and field meet in Great Falls on Friday, where Bolles is seeking his second consecutive district title.

Girls

Class AA

  • LaKeema Williams and Carsyn Campbell have been atop the Class AA discus performance list for the majority of the season. The Billings West teammates will have a bit of competition at the Billings City Meet on Thursday, as Billings Senior’s Audrey Skidmore and West’s Mackenzie Johannes are likely to compete against Williams and Campbell. Can Johannes jump ahead of Campbell or Williams and add to West’s projected point total for the State AA meet?
  • Tiahna Vladic has been sensational in her career at Billings Senior. It is winding to a close, though, as the senior will race in her final Billings City Meet on Thursday. Vladic has the top 1,600-meter time in Class AA this season at 5 minutes, 1.12 seconds. Can Vladic break the 5-minute mark in the 1,600 in her final meet in Billings?

Class A

  • Two of the premier distance runners in Class A will likely meet up at Saturday’s Nelson-Thomas ABC Meet in Polson. Polson’s Bea Frissell, who won State A titles in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs last spring, and Hamilton’s Brynnli Poulsen have been atop Class A all season and will finally have a chance to go head to head. Poulsen has Class A’s best 800-meter time, but Frissell owns Class B’s top times in the 1,600 and 3,200. Frissell is eyeing the State A records Belgrade’s Pipi Eitel set in the 1,600 and 3,200 in 2017, and racing Poulsen multiple times over the next few weeks could be what it takes to push Frissell over the top.
  • Corvallis senior Calla Haldorson is looking to become the first girl in Montana to win four consecutive state titles in the discus. Haldorson has held the top mark in Class A all season long, but she’s likely chasing after the State A record of 154 feet, 10 inches, which was set in 1999 by Polson’s Bree Fuque. Haldorson’s personal best is 153-05 in April of 2018. Haldorson will likely ratchet up her performance a notch beginning at Saturday’s Nelson-Thomas ABC Meet in Polson. She’ll likely face off with Hamilton’s Katelyn Dickemore and Frenchtown’s Kayla Botkin, who stand fourth and fifth in Class A currently.

Class B

  • There will be plenty of speed on display at the District 4B track and field meet in Laurel on Friday. Defending State B 100-meter dash champion Maddisen Marema of Shepherd will have plenty of competition for a district title, as Columbus junior RaiLeigh Strommen and Huntley Project freshman Macee Murphy sandwich Marema on the Class B performance list. All three have qualified for the State B meet already, but who will start the postseason off with a bang?
  • Baker sensation Wrenzi Wrzesinski hasn’t faced much competition the past two years in the hurdle races, but Colstrip freshman Gracie Bradley hopes to change that at the District 3B meet in Colstrip on Saturday. Wrzesinski has Class B’s best time in both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles, while Bradley sits fifth in the 100 hurdles and fourth in the 300 hurdles. Bradley will be a hurdler to watch for the next few years, but this weekend is an opportunity to prove she can compete with the state’s best as a freshman.

Class C

  • Two of Class C’s top hurdlers reside in District 13C and will likely face off this weekend. Seeley-Swan’s Terra Bertsch and Darby’s Casey Ehmann are two of the four Class C girls qualified for the State C meet in the 100-meter hurdles. Both girls are chasing Charlo’s Carlee Fryberger for the top time in Class C and are looking to join Fryberger as the only Class C girls to run the 100 hurdles in less than 16 seconds this season.
  • Two freshmen have burst onto the scene and stand inside the top four of the 100-meter dash for Class C. Shields Valley’s Haven Sager and West Yellowstone’s Emilie Collins will likely meet up at the District 11C meet in Bozeman on Saturday and could join Charlo’s Carlee Fryberger as the only Class C girls to run the 100 in less than 13 seconds. Sager is also part of Shields Valley’s 400-meter relay team that ranks No. 4 in Class C this season.