Best of the best compete in Butte

On a cold, windswept spring Saturday, some of the strongest and fastest track athletes in Montana swept through Butte at the annual Swede Dahlberg Track meet at Charlie Merrifield Track.

Boys teams represented all 14 Class AA schools, as well as Class A Butte Central and Class B Columbus. Billings West came away with the team win – for the fifth-straight year – scoring 78 points to outdistance second-place Missoula Big Sky, which scored 75. Kalispell Glacier was third with 67, while host Butte High tallied 36 points for eighth place. Butte Central posted four team points.

The highlight of the day for the home team was a win in the meet’s second event, the sprint relay. The Butte team of Jake Eisenbarth, Zach Bunney, Bo Taylor and Dalton Daum smoked the field with a time of 43.24 seconds – the fastest in the state so far this season.

Eisenbarth began with a solid start, followed by a blazing second leg by Bunney. Taylor handed off to Daum after the second turn, and the speedy Bulldog sophomore overtook West’s Jacob Kvilhaug with 50 meters left in the race to claim the victory.

“They ran very well,” observed veteran Butte High head boys’ track coach Charlie Merrifield. “Zach Bunney has been running the best he has been. I’m very pleased with him. He’s almost to where he should be now. He works hard and he’ll be there.”

Butte’s sprinting crew also fared well in the individual events, as Daum took third in the 100 and second in the 200, while Bunney was fourth in the 100 against a field that included Columbus’ Dustin Sobrero, who won the event.

The Bulldog sprinters looked particularly good out of the blocks, as they seemed to have a jump on their competitors from the get-go.

“I think it’s because we’re shorter,” joked Eisenbarth. “But the taller guys have the advantage toward the end.”

Daum recorded the fastest 100 of the day with his qualifying 11.10 in the first heat, but had a bit of trouble with the start in the finals, which cost him against the stacked field. Sobrero won in 11.17 followed by Big Sky’s Alex Mustard in 11.23. Daum checked in at 11.28, while Bunney tripped the clock at 11.37.

The 200 was another tight race, and while Mustard claimed the win at 22.06, Daum was busy holding off Capital’s Gunnar Brekke for second. Daum edged the Bruin sprinter by six hundredths of a second for the silver, but it came at a price as Butte’s fastest runner pulled up with a tight left hamstring at the end of the contest.

“That’s going to cost him a couple of weeks,” Merrifield said, just before changing the lineup for Butte’s mile relay, which was to include Daum.

Butte High got another nice showing from senior pole vaulter Kyle Christie, who took second place after revealing his new approach to the event.

“I think I took this way too seriously as a sophomore and junior,” he said. “Now I’m trying to have some fun with it.”

The strategy has been an effective one, as Christie easily sailed over the 13-foot-6 bar to outdo all but Helena High’s Gunnar Hilborn, whose vault over a 14-foot bar gave him the top mark thus far in the Montana prep season.

Christie’s trip over the 13-6 line was his first attempt this season with a longer 15-foot pole, which he just got. Speed toward the pits has been one of his few relatively weak points this season, but a gusty tailwind – that was carrying a healthy dose of snow – helped Christie get the forward force to carry him over the standard. The wind died down by the time his turn came at 14 feet, and Christie’s first two approaches left him short of the mark.

His third, however, saw the needed speed, and a gentle tap of the bar nullified his attempt at what would have been a personal-best mark.

“That was my first time solo with the 15-155,” Christie said with a smile. “It felt good.”

Butte High also saw the first meet run by Kaedon Caprara, who easily won his heat in the 300 hurdles timed finals. The time of just over 42 seconds wasn’t fast enough to get him on the podium, but the senior still has some time to get into shape before the end of the season.

Butte Central got a nice performance from junior Connor McGree, who took fourth place in the long jump with a personal-best mark of 20-10.

“My best before today was 19-10,” McGree said between the awards podium and his next attempt in the triple jump.

“Connor came out with tons of speed down the runway,” said Butte Central head coach Zack Stajcar. “He had plenty of power today, and now he just needs a little more lift.”

Stajcar also lauded Conor McGee and Shannon Temple for their efforts on the oval. McGee fared well in the 1,600 and 3,200, while Temple shaved off 10 seconds from his previous best in the 800. Kyle Harrington also notched a personal best in the 200.

“We’re improving week by week,” Stajcar noted. “The key from here is to stay healthy and just tweak a few things to go farther and faster.”

There was another notable performance Saturday, as veteran track judge John Mike Dennehy came back to his post with the starting pistol. Dennehy has battled recent health problems, and was a welcome sight at the meet, even though his pistol misfired on the first race of the day.

“That’s how it goes,” Dennehy said, laughing. “But it’s good to be back.”

Yes, it certainly is.


Butte High’s Jake Dennehy launches the discus Saturday.

Team scores – Billings West 78, Missoula Big Sky 75, Kalispell Glacier 67, Kalispell Flathead 50, Missoula Hellgate 43, Helena High 43, Helena Capital 39, Butte 36, Bozeman 25, Billings Senior 19, Great Falls Russell 17, Missoula Sentinel 13, Columbus 10, Billings Skyview 6, Butte Central 4, Great Falls High 2.
100 – 1, Dustin Sobrero, Col, 11.17. 2, Alex Mustard, MBS, 11.23. 3, Dalton Daum, Butte, 11.28. 4, Zach Bunney, Butte, 11.37. 5, Nolan Saraceni, BSr, 11.38. 6, Alex Thomas, GFH, 11.53.
200 – 1, Alex Mustard, MBS, 23.06. 2, Dalton Daum, Butte, 23.33. 3, Gunnar Brekke, Cap, 23.39. 4, Evan Epperly, Glacier, 23.87. 5, Alex Thomas, GFH, 23.91. 6, Tory Umsted, Helena, 23.95.
400 – 1, Kyle Nickol, Cap, 49.88. 2, Jacob Kvilhaug, West, 50.38. 3, Sterling Reneau, MS, 50.84. 4, Evan Epperly, Glacier, 50.99. 5, Tyler Roush, West, 51.38. 6, Quinn Staats, MS, 51.56.
800 – 1, Zach Perrin, Flat, 1:55.62. 2, Alex Klatt, BSr, 1:56.35. 3, Fredrick Petsch, West, 1:57.76. 4, Troy Fraley, Glacier, 2:00.05. 5, Quinn Staats, MS, 2:01.24. 6, Mark Hovland, West, 2:01.43.
1,600 – 1, Zach Perrin, Flat, 4:27.99. 2, Troy Fraley, Glacier, 4:31.35. 3, Christopher Herrick, MH, 4:32.64. 4, Fredrick Petsch, West, 4:40.82. 5, Colter May, Boz, 4:42.03. 6, Colt Smith, Cap, 4:45.79.
3,200 – 1, Adam Peterman, MH, 9:44.92. 2, Jason Holmes, Boz, 9:58.96. 3, Aidan Reed, Helena, 9:59.24. 4, Michael Martell, Boz, 10:00.60. 5, Colt Smith, Cap, 10:02.88. 6, Beau Mulvaney, West, 10:06.21.
110 hurdles – 1, Mason Storm, GFH, 15.44. 2, Brian Sinrud, Cap, 15.81. 3, Noah James, Glacier, 16.08. 4, Chris Lange, MBS, 16.18. 5, Taylor Trollope, Sky, 16.24. 6, Hunter Andriolo, Boz, 16.30.
300 hurdles – 1, Colin Dolese, MH, 38.90. 2, Chris Lange, MBS, 40.54. 3, Josh Barrows, Helena, 40.58. 4, Adam Cebulla, Glacier, 40.72. 5, Tom Donahue, West, 41.74. 6, Riley Barta, Sky, 41.82.
400 relay – 1, Butte (Jake Eisenbarth, Zach Bunney, Bo Taylor, Dalton Daum), 43.24. 2, West, 43.46. 3, Senior, 44.24. 4, Helena, 44.28. 5, GFH, 45.19. 6, Skyview, 45.45.
1,600 relay – 1, West (Jacob Kvilhaug, Logan Laird, Colter Porter, Tyler Roush), 3:28.17. 2, Big Sky, 3:31.37. 3, Glacier, 3:34.24. 4, Capital, 3:34.48. 5, Senior, 3:35.07. 6, Skyview, 3:37.09.
Shot put – 1, Darby Maier, MBS, 56-7.25. 2, Nick Jackson, West, 56-3.5. 3, William Dissly, Boz, 53-6. 4, Nathan Bradley, West, 50-7.75. 5, James Foote, MBS, 47-1.5. 6, Zayne Babbitt, MH, 46-8.25.
Discus – 1, Nick Jackson, West, 158-11. 2, Darby Maier, MBS, 149-4. 3, Austin Woods, MH, 147-4. 4, Kyle Douglass, MS, 145-8. 5, Nathan Bradley, West, 144-11. 6, Lukas Lindeman, MBS, 140-1.
Javelin – 1, Jase Buche, MH, 188-3. 2, Taylor Hulslander, Glacier, 184-7. 3, Shelton Todd, Glacier, 176-7. 4, Levi Dawes, Cap, 162-0. 5, Dawson Reardon, Helena, 160-5. 6, Tyler Shellenberg, Boz, 155-2.
High jump – 1, Cole Hayes, MBS, 6-01. 2, Todd Murphy, Helena, J6-01. 2, Garth Grimsrud, Helena, J6-01. 4, Matt Quist, Flat, J6-01. 5, Mason Storm, GFH, J6-01. 6, Caleb Walm, Sky, 5-11.
Long jump – 1, Mathew Tokarz, Flat, 22-04.25. 2, Kyle Griffith, Glacier, 22-02.50. 3, Nate Demming, West, 20-11. 4, Connor McGree, Butte Central, 20-10.25. 5, Mason Pugsley, Boz, 20-05.50. 6, Beau Thomas, BSr, J20-05.50.
Triple jump – 1, Mathew Tokarz, Flat, 46-0. 2, Kyle Griffith, Glacier, 44-3.5. 3, Nico Graham, MBS, 42-1. 4, Tyler McKay, West, 42-0. 5, Jake Horton, GFH, 41-10. 6, Rial Gunlikson, Glacier, 41-8.50.
Pole vault – 1, Gunnar Hilborn, Helena, 14-0. 2, Kyle Christie, Butte, 13-6. 3, Dylan Creek, Flat, 13-0. 4, Dominick Speranza, Cap, 13-0. 5, Brett Dringman, West, 13-0. 6, Butch Andersen, Boz, 12-6.