BILLINGS — Duncan Hamilton continues his ascent up the list as one of Montana's most accomplished track and field athletes.
Hamilton broke former Laurel standout Patrick Casey's record at the Montana Mile on Friday night to open up the Big Sky State Games, crossing the line in 4 minutes, 6.23 seconds.
"To come back and run in front of a Montana crowd is just amazing. Every time we came by the homestretch it was super loud," Hamilton said. "It's such an amazing community in Montana. I'm so happy to be racing here and so lucky to be racing with my teammates."
Hamilton and Montana State teammate and Laurel graduate Levi Taylor left the rest of the 14-competitor field in the dust midway through the second lap. Hamilton was on Taylor's heels before taking commanding lead of the race on the third lap and running by himself to the finish line in record-breaking time. Hamilton broke the record held by former Laurel standout Patrick Casey.
"(Taylor) really wanted to get it (Friday). He said, 'Just stick on me and we'll go for it,'" Hamilton said. "He wasn't trying to pace or anything. He's been training for a little longer than I, so I was going to let (Taylor) take it out and see how I felt."
The Montana Mile title caps off quite the running season for Hamilton. Hamilton set the Montana State record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and earned first-team All-American honors at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships earlier this month. Hamilton also finished 14th in the men's steeplechase at the Olympic Trials in June.
Montana Tech's Becca Richtman, fresh off an NAIA national title in the women's steeplechase, will add a Montana Mile title to her resume. Richtman ran in a tight pack with Rocky Mountain College's Sydney Little Light and Boise State's Tiahna Vladic, but Richtman pulled away during the final lap to win in 5:01.61.
"This is a little bit strange of a setup with the finish in the middle of the homestretch. But it was so exciting hearing the crowd," Richtman said. "I can't remember the last time we had a crowd this big on the homestretch. Even at Nationals. People come in for their events, but this is a huge community. It was awesome."
Richtman follows in the footsteps of her head track coach at Montana Tech Zach Kughn, who won the men's Montana Mile last year.
"It's on the map," Richtman said of Tech. "We didn't have very many kids on our roster last year. ... This year we had 52 kids on our roster compared to, I think, 13 last season. It's been great for our program," Richtman said. "