Bulldog girls top Missoula schools

“Springtime in the Rockies” returned to the Mining City Friday, as Butte High’s track teams hosted all three Class AA Missoula Schools in a quadrangular meet at Charlie Merrifield track.

And though weather threatened and sputtered throughout the day, the meet went off as scheduled.

“There was never a doubt,” said Charlie Merrifield, head Butte High boys’ coach. “This is an all-weather track, so you run in all weather.”

And it wasn’t pretty weather Friday, but that didn’t stop the Butte High girls from posting a 90.5 point win. Missoula Big Sky was second with 81 points, Hellgate was third with 51.5 and Sentinel tallied 31. The Big Sky boys amassed 102 points for the win, while Sentinel notched 61, Hellgate got 56 and Butte 44.

The Bulldog girls pulled off the win with no entries in the 200, the 3,200 or the pole vault. Indeed, many points sat on the sidelines for the Butte boys as well, as they didn’t field athletes in the 3,200 or either hurdles race. Some were held out due to injuries, and some were held out to prevent injuries in the cold conditions.

Butte’s girls were again led by Erika McLeod and Rashae Emerson. McLeod won the 400 in 1:02, followed closely by Mariah Richardson, then won the long jump with a mark of 17-3 – nine inches farther than she managed on Tuesday in the opening Time Trials meet.

“She’s got a lot more,” noted Butte High jumping coach Heidi Grey. “Erika is just so good on the runway.”

Emerson braved the cold to launch the shot 35 feet, 8 ¾ inches, then took second in the discus to boot.

“Rashae has been really consistent,” Butte head girls’ coach Arie Grey said. “She’ll continue to build on that, and she’ll pop a big one here pretty soon.”

Like their counterparts on the boys’ side, the Butte girls’ sprint relay team cruised to victory Friday. The team of Sammy McGree, Carlie Haeffner, Hailey Hoagland and McLeod zipped in to break the tape in 52.39 seconds.

Butte’s mile relay saw its toughest competition of the day from the Bulldog JV team. The 4×400 team clocked in at 4:26.89, 13 seconds faster than the next non-Butte team.

Butte’s girls posted a number of second-place finishes, helping push them over the top in the team score. Kassidy Caprara stood out in both hurdles races, taking second in the 300 and fifth in the 100 hurdles. Haeffner took second in the high jump, Andie Hogan was second in the 800 and McKenzee O’Neill took second in the javelin.

Butte High’s boys saw their best performance of the day in the pole vault pits, as senior Kyle Christie equaled his personal best from last season with a clearance of 13-6. Christie had already won the meet when he was the only vaulter to clear 12 feet, but the 13-6 was significant in that it earned him a trip to the Class AA State meet in May in Bozeman.

“I’m a lot farther along than I was this time last year,” Christie said, though he added that he hoped to be going even higher by now. “I’m hoping to get some work in on the 15-foot poles but those are still on order.”

Christie has cleared 14-6 indoors, Butte assistant coach Jaric McElroy said, but hasn’t gotten the same results in the chilly Butte spring weather.

“The pole doesn’t bend quite as well in the cold,” Christie explained.

Christie has also battled an injured elbow, and wears a brace to keep from hyper-extending it.

“It seems to hold up pretty well,” Christie said. “I’ll probably need surgery, but that’ll be after the season. It’s eight weeks of recovery time.”

With the qualifying mark in the books, Christie said it’s time to take pressure off at the meets and work on his weak points.

“I need to try and get some more speed on the approach,” he said. “I’ll do that and try to improve my technique.”

Butte High’s sprint relay team – Jake Eisenbarth, Zach Bunney, Bo Taylor and Dalton Daum – clocked in at 44.35 seconds for the win, just over a half second slower than the State qualifying time. The team changed slightly from Tuesday’s winning crew, as Tyler Earles is nursing a sore leg. Still, Merrifield is pleased with the sprinting strength shown by his team.

“We’ve got some runners,” he said. “We can fill in with a couple different kids.”

Butte discus specialist Jake Dennehy took third Friday, but his best toss was right up there as only eight inches separated the top three throws. Dennehy managed a mark of 143-7.

Anthony Moritz debuted in the shot ring Friday, and took second place at 46-3, though Big Sky’s Darby Maier won by heaving the shot nearly 10 feet farther. Gage Weston was Butte’s top javelin man, taking fifth with a throw of 140 feet.

“I was around 115 feet last year,” Weston said. “I think I could have done better today but I kept losing the tip. The weather didn’t help, but I just need to pull through on it.”

Cory Farstveet had a nice showing in the 400, where he took second place, followed by teammate Paul Campbell in third. Damien Hayden registered Butte’s top long jump at 18-10 ½.

Butte’s teams will next compete in Billings on Saturday, April 6.

“It’ll be great to get a full week of practice in,” Grey said. “We’ll do a lot of work on technique and try to make some huge strides.”

Butte-Missoula quad results

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