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Tradition of excellence: Belt boys win first state track title and reflect on successful Husky careers

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Posted at 3:56 PM, Jun 08, 2024

GREAT FALLS — At the start of the 2023-24 school year, the Belt Huskies were missing state banners from just two sports. One of those gaps has been filled as the boys track team captured its first-ever state title in May.

“There’s no other words to explain it (besides) special. That’s something Belt’s never done. That’s something we struggled with the past three years,” said JD Shepard. “Getting second, third and second, so to bring one home finally feels good.”

The title came down to the boys 1,600-meter relay. Belt made a last-minute adjustment to its relay team, inserting Ethan Triplett into the race. Entering this event that would eventually decide the state champion, the Huskies were far from the favorite to win it. Belt held the sixth-best time in the relay race but found a way to cross the finish line first and secure the title.

“Great feeling. Can’t explain how excited I was when JD came across that line. We were all jumping for joy, just yelling,” Clayton Jassen explained. “We knew that won us the meet, we knew that won us the title. It made all the hard work and all the miles pay off.”

Belt set a standard for itself across every sport it competed in and called it “a tradition of excellence.”

“It’s just holding a high standard for everybody and your character — ow you handle yourself on the floor, and the track, and the field,” said Reese Paulson. “But we also are trying to win so we are trying to pass that down and keep the bar high.”

In addition to the first-ever track title, a lot of the athletes participated in other sports which made history of their own. The football team won the 8-Man state title in 2022, making it the first title for Belt since 1994. The following season the Huskies made it back to the state title game and hosted it for the first time in school history.

As basketball players they won multiple district titles and a divisional title, and participated in the state tournament three out of their four years. As some of them looked back on the last four years, they described it as very special and gave thanks for Belt’s unwavering support.

“It’s just the town of Belt, I truly believe we live in the golden valley. The community has always supported us and has raised us to a platform to always compete at that level,” said Ethan Triplett. “I’d say it was a fun ride.”