Becoming a state track champion

The gun goes off this Friday for the start of the state high school track championships. State meets will take place in Great Falls and here in Butte.

There are two Bulldog athletes that could stamp their names in the record books for eternity, Erika McLeod and Dalton Daum. Both will be considered the favorite in a couple of events in Great Falls.

McLeod, a senior, is back to defend her long jump title that she captured one year ago. A win this weekend in that event would place her in very elite company in Lady Bulldogs’ track history. She would join Liza Merrifield, Heidi Hemmert, Tami Mathewson, Gwenn Abbott and Keli Dennehy as the only lady athletes to win a state individual title in two different years.

Merrifield did it in 1976 in the 880-yard run and came back two years later to win the 440-yard crown. Hemmert won both hurdles races at the state track meets in 1986 and 1987. Heidi also came home with a gold medal at 200 meters at the 1987 event. Mathewson won the 100-meter final at the 1987 meet. She came back to capture the long jump in 1988 and 1989. Gwenn Abbott won the high jump as a freshmen in 2006 and came back to capture that same event in 2008. Dennehy took the 3200-meter race in the 2009 and 2010 meets.

One other Lady Bulldog athlete of note, Holly Maloney, won two events at the state track meet, but she captured the high jump and triple jump at the same meet in 1984.

McLeod will be the favorite in the long jump. She also has a good chance to win the 200-meter run and the triple jump. She won both events last week at the Eastern AA Divisional meet. To make things even more interesting Erika has a good opportunity to win both hurdles races.

Let’s move on to the Bulldogs’ boys and the Dalton Daum. He has not been beaten this year at 100 meters. He will also be favorite at 200 meters.  If the junior sprinter could win both races he would also join an elite list of former Butte High stars.

A Bulldog athlete has won the 100 and 200 meter runs at the state track meet eleven times. The list begins with Buddy Phelps who won both races in 1913, 1914 and 1915. Bob O’Malley took top honors in both races in 1932 and 1933. The only other multi-year winner was Danny Hanley who won both events in 1980 and 1981. The other sprint champions with two sprint titles include: Evan Roberts in 1938, Jack Matthews in 1943, Bill Smith in 1946 and Walt Lonner in 1952.

If Daum can capture the double sprint victory this weekend, he would only be the second Bulldog to do that in the last 60 years. The last Butte High boy to win a sprint event at the state meet was Jake Larson who won the 100-meter race in 2001. Jake also won the 400-meter event at that same state meet.

A final note regards the Class A and B meet here in Butte. One Butte Central athlete has a good chance in the sprint races, sophomore Kyle Harrington. He won the 100-meter at the Southwestern A Divisional meet last week in Dillon and was third at 200-meter.

If Harrington wins the 100-meter final, he would become the first Maroons’ boy to ever win the state title in the event. Only one Butte Central boy has ever won a sprint event at the state track meet. That was John McCarthy, who took the 200-meter final at the 1982 state meet.