By Bruce Sayler
Many joined the party Saturday in a Butte high school track meet that sparked about the same amount of conversation as talk about the next one did.
That’s not to say it was a boring meet. It was a pretty good competition and accomplished the No. 1 goal of most coaches this cold, dreary spring: It got the athletes into a meet to compete.
It grew from a scheduled Class AA triangular between Butte High, Helena Capital and C.M. Russell of Great Falls at Bulldog Memorial Stadium to a 10-team spectacle that crossed all four enrollment classes. The winners were the Capital girls and the C.M. Russell boys. (Team scores; Individual results)
“We got another meet in and an opportunity to look at some kids in some different events,” Butte High head coach Arie Grey said. “I haven’t seen the results yet, but I’m sure there were some season-bests and personal-bests set today. We’ll take a look and see where we’re at.”
The multi-leveled competition might have squeezed some good efforts over all crews. The temperatures were mostly in the 40s with occasional cold, windy blasts and breezes pushing through the stadium. Still, it was one of the better track days of what, weather-wise, has been a miserable spring.
“I think we’ve been outside five days this year,” Grey said. “Three of them have been for meets.”
So, hopes are high for next week when the Bulldogs play host to a revamped Swede Dahlberg Invitational meet. The long-running annual meet has been a boys-only varsity competition through its history. This year, the girls will have one in conjunction.
(Story continues below photos)
While Class AA’s boys, Butte Central’s boys and occasional entries from other smaller schools vied in the Dahlberg, the girls competed in a meet in Great Falls. This year, however,Great Falls’ Memorial Stadium is undergoing renovations to install an artificial football turf. Consequently, it cannot be used for track and so Butte officials opted to invite the girls’ teams from the schools comprising the Dahlberg Invitational field to also hold their meet at Bulldog Memorial Stadium.
“It’ll be fun,” Grey insisted. “We’ll have the top athletes here.”
He said it was unknown whether this action on the Dahlberg will be a one-year substitution for the girls’ teams, or a permanent attraction added to the Dahlberg lineup.
For Friday, anyway, though, every event-winner in the girls’ portion of the meet will be setting a meet record.
Saturday’s enhanced triangular saw the Capital girls run away with a victory, scoring 207.20 points while Russell was second with 96 points and Butte High third with 89.20. The boys’ team competition was a mite closer with the Rustlers tallying 170 ½ points, Capital 104 and Butte High 74 to fill the top three spots. Adding to the flavor were teams from Butte Central, Deer Lodge, Centerville, Conrad, Ennis, Lone Peak and Townsend. Several representatives of the teams thanked meet staff and Butte coaches for allowing their entries into the meet so that their athletes could get in some actual track time.
Butte High scored three individual wins and Butte Central chalked up one. The Bulldogs’ winners were senior Alex Dorr in the boys’ javelin, 154 feet, 9 inches; senior Ty Peterson in the boys’ pole vault, 13-6; and sophomore Quinn Sullivan in the boys’ 110-meter high hurdles, 16.18 seconds. Junior Lindsey McGree won the girls’ 100-meter dash for Butte Central by clocking 13.09 seconds.
:Hailee Regan qualified (for the state AA meet) in the shot,” Grey said, referring to the Bulldog senior’s throw of 36-8 that earned third place Saturday. “That was nice for her. Now, instead of worrying about qualifying, she can just relax and get better.
“A lot of our kids are just getting better. They’re very consistent. None of them has plateaued, yet, which is good. It means they’ll improve even more, especially now that maybe we can practice outside.”
Zack Stajcar, the Maroons’ head coach, echoed that the most important aspect of the meet was simply that it was held. He and longtime BC assistant Bob Johnson commented that they didn’t remember seeing a spring with so much snow so late in the year wreaking so much havoc with the spring sports schedule.
McGree also notched a second place in the long jump at 16-5, just an inch behind that of Capital’s Elena Carter. McGree racked on a fifth in the triple jump. Regan complemented her shot put achievement with a fourth in the javelin.
Butte Central had three other place-winners in the girls’ events — fourth-places by Allyson Mueller in the 100-meter hurdles and Olivia Bolton in the long jump, and by their 400-meter relay team.
Butte High put up seconds by Ally Cleverly in the 400, Anna Trudnowski in the high jump, and both relay teams.
Other place-winners for the Butte High girls were Gabbie Parini, fourth in the 100 and third in the 200; Trudnowski, fourth in the 400; Hailey Nielson, fourth in the 800; Danika Murphy, fourth in the 300-meter hurdles; Tailynn Garrett, third in the long jump; Hailey Herron, sixth in the discus; and Faith Kelly, sixth in the javelin.
Also, four Butte High freshmen — Christiana Beirle, Brie Birkenbuel, Hannah Morin-Ferguson and Trinity Smelich — tied for sixth in the high jump. Ennis’ Jourdan Klein won the high jump by clearing 5-1, and Deer Lodge’s Ariel Clark won the shot put at 38-11. Capital swept the distances with top four places in the 1,600-meter run and top three in the 3,200. The Bruins filled five of the six places in the 3,200. Alana Tonidandel was first in the 1,600 and second in the 3,200 while teammate Hannah Rohrer-Fitzhugh won the 3,200 and was second in the 1,600.]
The Butte High boys gaining places were Josh Neil, fourth in the 100- and third in the long jump; Sullivan, fifth in the 100 and fourth in the long jump; Tucker Winston, fifth in the 200; Aidan Pezdark, fifth in the 400; Billy Cunneen, sixth in the 800; Gabe Tierney, third in the 300 hurdles; Rylan Richards, tied for fourth in the high jump; Christian Vetter, sixth in the long jump; Greyson Mandic, sixth in the discus; and Cade O’Neill, sixth in the javelin. Bulldog relay teams placed third in the 1,600 and sixth in the 400.
Butte Central placed Cutter Thatcher third in the 400, Brian McGeehan third in the 800, Aaron Richards fourth in the shot put and fifth in the discus, Zeb Antonioli sixth in the shot put and Cade Holter third in the javelin. The Maroons’ 400-meter relay team was fourth.
Russell’s Damien Nelson swept the short sprints, 11.47 in the 100 and 23.81 in the 200 and the Rustlers grabbed four of the top five places in the 1,600 to highlight their team victory. Brayden Stremcha won the 1,600 in 4:33.06 and Cooper West finished the 3,200 first in 9:58.43.
So, Saturday was a positive. The athletes got to compete and the coaches have points of reference from which to work.
“They’re a fun group of kids,” Grey said of his Bulldogs.