KALISPELL — It seems each spring all eyes are on the sprints during Montana’s state track and field meets, and that was certainly the case again over the weekend. Records were up for grabs at Legends Stadium, as Big Timber sprinting sensation Casey Gunlikson blazed down the track for the final time as a high school athlete.
“I was a little nervous coming in, obviously it’s state, but it was a good day, a little overcast, but still, nothing (is) better than this,” Gunlikson said Saturday afternoon.
Gunlikson, the future Montana State sprinter and hurdler, lived up to the hype Friday at Legends Stadium, nearly breaking the Class B record in the 100-meter dash, a mark of 10.90 seconds held by former Fort Benton athlete Troy Estell, posting a preliminary time of 10.99 seconds.
That near-call was all the motivation Gunlikson needed. In Saturday’s finals, he added his name to the record books, winning the State B 100 in 10.87 seconds.
“It feels awesome. That’s my favorite race, for sure, because it’s the fastest, it’s the quickest,” he said. “You do it and get it over with. Just doing it, that was pretty fun.”
But he wasn’t done yet. Later in the day, Gunlikson added a 38.11-second mark in the 300-meter hurdles, topping the 2006 Class B record of 38.31 held by Clark Cranford of Huntley Project.
“That one makes you work, it’s a good one. The 300s are a tough one, they make you work,” said Gunlikson.
Gunlikson capped his meet running the 200-meter dash, once again eyeing another record. After crossing the finish line in first place, his third title of the meet, his eyes caught the 21.80 on the Legends Stadium scoreboard. The Class B record was 22.22, also held by Estell.
As meet officials brought Gunlikson his official time, they also brought bad news: Any records would be negated due to the aid of the wind.
“Sadly I can’t count the 200 as a record-breaker, but I’ll count it in my book,” he said.
He did run with the wind at his face and side, after all. In all seriousness, fans in attendance witnessed one of Montana’s all-time great track and field athletes in Gunlikson, who was pushed by friends at multiple schools, including a pair of Huntley Project athletes, one that will soon be a teammate at Montana State.
“Austin (Hernandez) and Brad (Graves) are super fun, they’re cool guys. Brad is always serious come race day, it doesn’t matter if it’s a normal race or state, he’s always serious,” Gunlikson said of his future Bobcat teammate. “He’s got his hood up, but again, it’s all love at the end of the day racing against him. Brad is such a chill guy, but come race day, after he’s done he can finally relax and be who he is.”
Gunlikson is more easy-going on race day, laughing with buddies before and after races, many which see him place first. Saturday’s prep track finale was the end of an impressive career, one that was ever-entertaining for fans and Gunlikson alike.
“Track is so fun, especially, you have two goons behind you right now totally messing with the camera, but it’s all love at the end of the day. We don’t care who wins. (Townsend’s Kameron Rauser) beat me (Friday) in the 400, so happy for him. The 200, that’s another barn burner, you know? But it felt good to get that one out of the way and under my belt, too,” Gunlikson said.
Those two goons trying to get Gunlikson to break during the interview? Townsend’s 400-meter champion Kameron Rauser and Fairfield football state champion Ryder Meyer.
“Like I said, it’s all love. It’s nothing but love,” said Gunlikson.
“It’s not fun for us running against him,” laughed Meyer.
“We just watch his back. We’re like, ‘Oh, run Casey,’” added Rauser.
“We’re his biggest fans behind him,” Meyer agreed.
To be fair, they weren’t the only ones.