KALISPELL — It wasn’t the mark Delaney Bahn was looking for, but it was enough to re-write the history books anyway.
Bahn, Bozeman’s sensational senior track and field standout, launched a new all-class long jump record of 19 feet, 3.75 inches on Friday, repeating as the Class AA champion in the event.
“I think it just shows the hard work I put in. I don’t like to look at the numbers much, I don’t like thinking about it too much, but when other people see that I hope they know that I worked really hard for it and I’m happy with what I’ve done,” said Bahn.
Bahn, who earned a third-place finish in the high jump and will compete in the finals of the 100- and 200-meter dashes Saturday, helped Bozeman jump to a monstrous lead after Day 1 of the Class AA state track and field invite at Legends Stadium.
The Hawks posted 56 team points Friday, highest of all the male and female teams competing, and lead second-place Billings West by 24 points.
“Even if you get sixth place, that’s a point, it’s something,” said Bahn. “I think because we have all that, even if it’s placing sixth, placing first, those all add up and we have so much of that, that’s what helps us do so well.”
Terra Trom added a win for Bozeman in the 1,600-meter run, edging defending champion Tiahna Vladic of Billings Senior at the finish line. Trom crossed in 4 minutes, 55.92 seconds while Vladic, who crashed to the track at the finish line, posted a time of 4:56.09.
Alex Moore and Natalie McCormick placed fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 1,600 for Bozeman, which also saw sophomore Addi Ekstrom finish runner-up in the 400.
Helena freshman phenom Odessa Zentz crossed the line first in the 400, running a 57.75 to earn her first state championship.
“I think that I worked really hard all season to get here, and I knew I had a lead going in the race, but I always race like there’s someone chasing me. For the first part of the race, I like having my best competition in front of me, I can chase them right away. I’m really happy,” Zentz said.
The Billings West girls were paced by LaKeema Williams’ win in the shot put, as the junior won the event by more than three feet, putting a personal-best 42 feet, 3 inches.
Billings Senior’s Maisee Brown, less than a year removed from an ACL surgery, won the pole vault, soaring over 11 feet, 9 inches for a new senior-season best. Senior ended Day 1 in fourth place, five points behind third-place Helena High.
Defending Class AA champion Missoula Sentinel is in fifth place with 19 points, 14 of which came in the girls long jump. Ashley McElmurry finished runner-up to Bahn with a leap of 18-11, while Lauren Heggen placed third at 18-03.25. Brooke Stayner, a freshman, placed fourth in the 400 for the Spartans.
Missoula Sentinel’s boys posted a dominant first day, tallying 55 points to Billings West’s 37. The Spartans won a pair of events and finished runner-up in three more to open their lead.
Elias DeWaters won the long jump competition, setting a new personal best of 22-05.50. The Class AA favorite in both distance jumps, Friday was both relief and revenge for DeWaters.
“It’s unbelievable to think I came back. I had a rough season last year. To come back off that and be able to work with my coaches and just have all the support of my team and family, to come back and be a state champion in the long jump is pretty sweet,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of guys come out and do great, Neil (Daly) and (Zac) Crews in the high jump, Bryson (Muchmore) in the high jump, so I was just feeding off those guys and had to do my part.”
DeWaters was one of the first Spartans to congratulate 400-meter champion Jaden Foster, who hit a new personal best of 48.98 seconds, while Crews (6-03), Daily (6-01) and Muchmore (6-01) took three of the top five spots in the boys high jump, which was won by Billings Skyview junior Julius Mims. Mims cleared 6-09 and appeared to clip the bar with his shorts on an attempt at 6-11, coming just shy of a new personal-best clearance.
“It’s been great. Throughout the season, the first meet I got 6-08 and that was one inch above my PR from last year,” said Mims. “Then I got 6-10 in the second meet and it was a thrill, it was great. Keeping it consistent through the whole season, I just kept working and it got me here (Friday).”
Mims, who placed runner-up to Helena High’s Trey Tintinger at last year’s state meet in Great Falls, admitted jumping Friday wasn’t the same without the Bengals’ two-time defending champion, who missed the meet with an injury.
“I know, I know. It would have been more fun (with Tintinger). I think we would have pushed each other a lot and it might have come to a jump-off,” he said.
Though Missoula Sentinel’s boys built the large lead Friday, Billings West advanced multiple athletes from the preliminary races, including Connor Ryan in the 100 and 200, and Jaromy Coomes in the 110-meter high hurdles.
The Bears did earn the first state title of the day, with Carter Slade dominating the shot put competition with a put of 54 feet, 3 inches. Slade won the event by just shy of five feet.
“Man, it was pretty exciting. There’s really no words I can say, just extravagant coming in and having a 2-foot, 3-inch PR,” he said. “I think what it does to set the tone right now is that it’s going to challenge both (Billings West and Missoula Sentinel’s boys teams). We both had people that were out that should have been in the (shot put) finals, so that took some points for us, but I think it’s going to be pretty even and going to be pretty interesting to see what our track team’s going to do and what our team will do (Saturday).”
For complete results from Day 1 of the State AA track and field meet, please click here.