HELENA — Last year, Helena girls track and field coach Jesse Zentz helped bring the Bengals their first state championship in 22 years. But they weren't finished.
Zentz and his team had high hopes heading into 2023, and they delivered again with their second title.
“Great kids and great coaches, that’s a big piece of it,” Zentz teased when asked about going back-to-back for the first time in program history.
Over the final couple of days in May, the Bengals quite literally ran away from the rest of the field, winning five individual state championships — two each from the Todorovich sisters — and winning the school’s first-ever consecutive team championship with a first-place finish of 114 points.
“I think it’s a good experience and thing to be a part of,” said the younger of the Torodovich sisters, Madilyn.
Madi would go on to score 38.5 points for the Bengals as the rising junior added her second state championship of the weekend at Bulldog Memorial Stadium in Butte.
While she prepared for the Nike Outdoor Nationals in Eugene, Oregon, she spoke to MTN about the support she received from both her teammates and her coaches, but especially her sister, Logan.
“We’re both pretty competitive, so I think that helps and yeah, it’s always fun having an older sister to look up to," Madi said.
Despite being a crucial piece of both all-state relay teams, Madi Torodovich won the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 45.75. She also finished as the runner-up in the 200 meters, running a 25.65, and then took third in the 400 (59.68) as well as a fifth-place finish in the long jump to wrap up her sophomore season.
“I love being on the same team as Madi, I love competing with Madi, I mean she pushes me, not only because she is so good, but also because she is my sister, she is someone who is supporting me and wants me to do well but is also someone who is also pushing me every day to be better,” said Logan Todorovich, who scored another 29.5 points for her squad.
The eldest Todorovich sister finished all-state in four total events, breaking the Montana all-class record in the long jump while taking second in the high jump and running under a minute in the 400-meter relay, as well.
“Honestly, through my races, I don’t really think, my mind is just to that finish line; just get there as fast as I possibly can,” Logan said.
Following her state-record long jump, Logan Todorovich followed that up with a second consecutive state title in the 100-meter hurdles (14.97).
Looking through the new and improved Montana track and field top class AA rankings, you will notice the Todorovich name, in copious amounts.
“For us it wasn’t a surprise, because we know the quality of our athletes, it was just an incredible end to the season," added Zentz.
Although cliche, the culture that's been created at Helena High over the last three years was set a couple years ago when the team reached second place at state under Zentz.
In all, 10 Bengals found their way to the podium over the two-day state meet as Hazel Bishop, Reghan Skogen, Kim Feller, Annika Nehring, Makenzie Jackson, Evey Linden, Lauren Heuiser and Birdie Heuiser all contributed to the repeat.
“It’s really amazing, it’s something that doesn’t happen a lot, it’s just super fun to be a part of a team like (this). I’ve always dreamed of this, so that keeps me motivated.” said B. Heuiser.
A few of their core values on this back-to-back state championship team includes excellence, curiosity and unity. Which, in turn, allowed these student-athletes to focus on the things that they were able to control this year, and relying on what you can do on a daily basis to get better as a person, competitor and finally, an athlete.
“The goal for next year is again to do the same thing,” Zentz said.