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State AA/B track and field preview: Missoula Sentinel, Big Timber athletes among those chasing records

Posted: 5:12 PM, May 22, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-22 22:06:04-04
As a sophomore, Missoula Sentinel’s Lauren Heggen won both the triple jump and 100-meter hurdles at the 2018 State AA track and field meet. (RICHIE MELBY/MTN Sports)

The final weekend of the high school track and field season is nearly upon us.

Throughout the season, the MTN Sports team has highlighted several athletes and teams to keep an eye on. This weekend will pit the best of the best against each other one final time.

There are a handful of state records that could fall this weekend, as well. Kalispell Glacier’s Evan Todd and Missoula Sentinel’s Rylan Ortt have battled back and forth in the javelin all season. They’re both on the cusp of a state record, but only one can be crowned this weekend. Big Timber’s Casey Gunlikson could potentially go down as the fastest guy in Class B. We’ve followed the exploits of Bozeman’s Delaney Bahn and Missoula Sentinel’s Lauren Heggen and Ashley McElmurry as they prepare to take aim at records on the runway.

The State AA and State B meets are set to run Thursday-Saturday at Legends Stadium in Kalispell. The State A and State C meets are the same days at the Laurel Sports Complex. For a State A/C preview, please click here .

With Thursday’s pole vault events marking the beginning of the state meets, here are the athletes and teams to watch throughout final weekend of the spring sports season.

State AA

Boys

  • Billings West and Missoula Sentinel won their respective divisional track meets and look to be the favorites for the State AA boys team title in Kalispell this weekend. West will look to score points in the sprints and the hurdles, where Connor Ryan and Peter Demars rank among the top three in Class AA. The Golden Bears also have the top relay times in the state, as well as two of the best shot put and discus throwers in Carter Slade and Jaden Bienvenue. Missoula Sentinel will look to get it done primarily in the field. While Jaden Foster will carry the Spartans in the sprints and the relays, several athletes will likely contribute in the field events, led by Rylan Ortt, Brandon Spencer and Brock Field.
  • The State AA boys high jump will feature the only active athlete in the past decade to clear 6 feet, 10 inches in Billings Skyview’s Julius Mims. Helena High’s Trey Tintinger is the two-time defending State AA champion, but he won’t be jumping this weekend as he continues to recover from an early season injury. That leaves Mims, who has shown throughout the season that he’s a real threat to Tintinger’s record. With no other Class AA boy having jumped higher than 6-04, Mims will likely be jumping alone in Kalispell chasing that 7-01 1/2 mark Tintinger set in 2017.
  • Kalispell Glacier’s Evan Todd and Missoula Sentinel’s Rylan Ortt have been swapping the top javelin throw in the state throughout the season. Both have eclipsed the 200-foot mark and are in the top 15 nationally, according to www.athletic.net. Todd got the better of Ortt at last year’s State AA meet, but Ortt has beaten Todd on multiple occasions this season. The State AA (210 feet, 10 inches) and all-class (213-04) state records are both in jeopardy this weekend.
  • Missoula Sentinel’s Elias Dewaters is the Class AA leader in both the long jump and triple jump entering this weekend’s state meet. The Spartans will be relying upon Dewaters to pick up points in the jumping events, as he’s the only Class AA boy with a long jump mark of at least 22 feet and is the only Class AA boy with a triple jump mark of at least 43 feet.
  • Kalispell Flathead’s Ben Perrin is looking to add to his state medal collection this weekend. Perrin is Class AA’s top 1,600- and 3,200-meter runner and is the defending State AA champion in the 3,200. Perrin is chasing his older brother Jake’s State AA records in both the 1,600 (4 minutes, 12.06 seconds) and 3,200 (9:04.35). Can he chase at least one of those records down?

Girls

  • Bozeman’s girls enter the State AA track and field meet as the overwhelming favorite to win the team title. The Hawks have both depth and top-end talent across several events. Delaney Bahn has Class AA bests in four separate events. The Hawks will also likely get points in the distance races from Terra Trom and Alex Moore, and both relay teams should place well. Billings West, though, could cause problems for Bozeman. West’s Albrecht sisters, Maddie and Willa, are among the fastest girls in the state. If either or both are able to overcome Bahn, the Bears will be stealing points. West also expects points in the throws from LaKeema Williams and Carsyn Campbell. If West does well in the sprints and throws, it could challenge Bozeman for the team title, but the Hawks will be tough to overcome.
  • Delaney Bahn is a big reason Bozeman has had so much success on the track this season. The senior standout leads Class AA in four events this season – the 100- and 200-meter dashes and the long and high jumps. Bahn has been especially spectacular in the long jump, where her season best of 19 feet, 11 ¼ inches is the longest jump by a girl in Montana history. Bahn has the all-class record of 18-11 ¾, which was set by Julie Lenenger of Dillon in 2001, in sight. Bahn could shatter this record and become the first girl in Montana high school history to long jump 20 feet.
  • Missoula Sentinel has two of the best triple jumpers in the country in Ashley McElmurry and Lauren Heggen. Last year, the two kept breaking the all-class record in the triple jump before Heggen’s leap of 39-07 wound up winning the State AA title. Both athletes have jumped farther than 40 feet this season and appear to be on track to set a new record in the triple jump once again. McElmurry and Heggen are also threats to the long jump state record. McElmurry’s leap of 19-03 ½ is just past the current state record, while Heggen’s jump of 18-11 is just shy of the current record.
  • Helena High freshman Odessa Zentz has been atop Montana’s performance list in the 400-meter dash all season. Zentz is just one of four Class AA girls to run the event in less than one minute and is the only girl under 59 seconds this season. Zentz looked strong at the Western AA divisional meet and could be starting a dominant run in the 400 over the years to come.
  • Billings West’s 400-meter relay team has a shot at breaking the State AA girls record in the event. The current record of 47.56 seconds was set by West’s team last year at the 2018 State AA meet. This year’s team ran it in 48.32 seconds at the Eastern AA divisional meet last weekend but was well clear of the field in the win. A more competitive atmosphere could push Billings West close to the state record time.

State B

Boys

  • The State B boys team title looks like its Huntley Project’s to lose. The Red Devils are extremely deep in the sprints and boast some of Class B’s fastest athletes. Bradley Graves, Noah Bouchard and Chris Hust should control both hurdles races, while Austin Hernandez and Mitchell Burns will likely contribute points in the sprints. Huntley Project also owns the top relay times in Class B. The Red Devils also have the top discus mark in Class B from Journey Grimsrud, the top pole vault mark in the state from Chris Kistler and the No. 2 high jump mark from Bouchard. Manhattan, Fairfield and Big Timber are among the teams that should also contend for spots on the podium.
  • Big Timber’s Casey Gunlikson nearly broke the State B 100-meter dash record last season but ran 11.02 seconds in prelims, just .01 off Deer Lodge native Arie Grey’s record of 11.01 seconds. Gunlikson has posted some blazing times this season, including back-to-back meets with times of 10.83 and 10.81. Gunlikson leads Montana in the 100 and 200 this season and could get the State B record in the 200, too. His time of 22.41 seconds is just shy of Fort Benton’s Troy Estell, who ran the 200 in 22.22 in 1986. Gunlikson could go down as the fastest guy in Class B history.
  • Bradley Graves has been a star for Huntley Project over the past few seasons. He’s been tremendous in the 110-meter hurdles, placing fifth at the State B meet as a sophomore and winning the event last season. Graves will be aiming higher than just another gold medal, though, as his season-best time of 14.32 seconds easily surpasses the State B record of 14.54 seconds, which was set by current Carroll College track and field coach and former Cascade star Harry Clark in 1984. The all-class record of 14.21 seconds, which was set in 2002 by Helena Capital’s Matt Larson, could also be in jeopardy this weekend.
  • Joliet senior Ry Olson has been among the best Class B jumpers during his time in high school, particularly over the past two years. Olson is the defending State B long jump champion and also finished third in the high jump and fourth in the triple jump last year. He holds Class B’s top mark in both the triple jump and long jump this year and is the only athlete in Class B to have a 22-foot long jump or a 44-foot triple jump.
  • A pair of athletes will be gunning for the State B high jump record this weekend. Jefferson’s Avery Stiles won the event as a sophomore last year with a leap of 6-06, but he’ll likely need to go higher this season to repeat. Stiles has gone 6-09 ¼ and Huntley Project’s Noah Bouchard has jumped 6-08. Both are threatening the State B record of 6-09 set in 1986 by Whitehall’s Darby Jones. Could these two push each other to heights that haven’t been seen in Class B?

Girls

  • It could be a crowded race for the State B girls team title this weekend. Baker, Huntley Project and Colstrip are among favorites, but there hasn’t been a dominant team this season. Baker will rely heavily upon Wrenzi Wrzesinski, who holds Class B bests in the 100- and 200-meter dashes and 100- and 300-meter hurdles and is No. 2 in the long jump. She also runs on both relays for the Spartans, who are No. 2 in Class B in both. Huntley Project will likely get the majority of its points from two athletes. Freshman Macee Murphy looks to be a real challenger to Wrzesinski in the hurdles, and she also has the No. 1 long jump and No. 1 triple jump in the class. Emily Poole will contribute in the throws, as she’s the top discus and javelin thrower in Class B. Colstrip will look to several athletes to contribute. The Fillies will be strong in the distance events, as Whitney Hanson and Hayley Burns should score well in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200. Freshman Jamie Whitedirt could steal points in the throws from Huntley Project’s Poole, too. With such a slim margin, placement will be critical for each school’s top athletes.
  • Huntley Project’s Emily Poole has had a familiar name to look up to in the Montana record books. Her older sister Hailey set the State B javelin record in 2016 while at Colstrip. Emily could possibly take that down this weekend. Emily’s longest throw this season is 146-06, which is not far off Hailey’s state record of 152-08. Emily will also have a shot at the State B discus record, as she’s thrown 132-00 this season. The record of 137-10 was set in 1993 by Larry Jo Christensen of Plains.
  • Baker’s Wrenzi Wrzesinski can add to her state medal count this weekend. The senior has won the State B title in both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles each of the past two seasons and has a total of 11 medals at the State B meet the past two seasons. Wrzesinski also has an outside shot at the 100-meter hurdles record. Her personal best of 15.01 seconds isn’t far off the State B record of 14.75, which was set by Hailey Phillips of Plains in 2015.
  • Deer Lodge’s Kamryn Scully is seeking her second consecutive State B pole vault title. Scully won last year’s title with a vault of 10-00, but she’ll likely need to go higher to win this year. Including Scully, four Class B girls have cleared at least 10-00 this season. Scully’s vault of 10-09 at the Western B divisional meet last weekend has her just half a foot from the State B record of 11-03, which was set in 2013 by Red Lodge’s Carter Theade.
  • Huntley Project freshman Macee Murphy has burst onto the scene for the Red Devils this season. She has Class B’s best mark in both the long jump and triple jump, and she’s also one of the best hurdlers in Class B this season. Murphy’s performance will be important for Huntley Project in the team race. She could also steal points in the sprinting events if she can find her way on to the podium.