KALISPELL — Wrenzi Wrzesinski stood on top of the podium, two teammates flanked on each side, four more in front, a Montana state track and field championship trophy in her hands.
It was a fitting ending to the weekend’s Class B state track and field meet at Legends Stadium, where Wrzesinski won three individual races and joined teammates in winning both the 400- and 1,600-meter relays.
“I’m really happy with it. There’s always, I feel a lot of pressure going into it, but once it’s all over it’s definitely worth it. It’s a big sigh of relief,” Wrzesinski said of the state meet.
It was also the conclusion of one of the great track and field careers in Montana high school history. Wrzesinski, who began her prep career as a freshman in Ennis before moving to Baker prior to her sophomore year, collected 19 career state track and field medals, placing her just one shy of ranking in the top 10, according to the Montana High School Association record book.
Of those 19 state medals, 10 were gold, six inscribed with the word “hurdles” after Wrzesinski won both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles her sophomore year and successfully defended those titles each of the following two seasons.
Wrzesinski’s latest performance? Five golds, one silver and a bronze after she won both hurdles races and the 200, as well as both relays, while placing second in the long jump and crossing third in the 100-meter dash.
Baker also won the first track and field team championship in program history, tying Huntley Project with 74 points.
“No way. I’m so thankful for my team, they’ve been awesome throughout the whole season,” said Wrzesinski, whose middle name is fittingly Wrace. “Going into it, this was our goal. Throughout the year, first practice we knew were working for a state championship title.”
It didn’t come without an impressive effort. Trailing Huntley Project by two points entering the final event, the 1,600-meter relay, Baker needed to place first to guarantee at least a share of the title. No problem.
Ashlyn Lutts, Anika Ploeger and Macee Hadley paced the Spartans to the lead when Wrzesinski received the baton for the final leg, and the race was all but won. All that was left to determine was where Huntley Project finished the race.
The Red Devils crossed second, securing the tie for the state title.
“Honestly, I didn’t look back for a while. I didn’t see the Bigfork girl (running the final leg of the relay near Huntley Project’s team), so I didn’t really know what happened, but I kind of looked over at my team because I knew we had done it. I was happy with that,” said Wrzesinski.
The finish crossed multiple milestones for Wrzesinski, pushing her gold medal total to double digits, sharing the experience atop the podium with Lutts, Ploeger and Hadley, as well as hoisting the program’s first team title with the other five Spartans.
“I’m definitely most happy about the (team) title, though,” Wrzesinski said. “I think it’s a lot better to experience it with a whole team than just yourself.”
Wrzesinski will take that team-first, humble mentality the 115 miles east to Dickinson State next year, competing for the Blue Hawks, where the expectations have already been set.
“Hopefully I can maybe accomplish what my brother has and be an all-American, but we’ll see,” she said of her older brother, Cleet, who placed third in the NAIA decathlon last Friday. “I called him on the phone (Friday) and he was kind of worried because I thought I hurt my knee a little bit. So he asked me how that was, and then (Saturday), about halfway through the day, he called and wished me good luck in the rest of my events.”
Not that she needed it.