By Bill Foley
When Butte High opens the track season Friday in Missoula, the Bulldogs will have more questions than answers.
That’s what has head coach Arie Grey so excited.
“That’s what I love about track,” Grey said of the unknowns at the start of the season. “Each week, you’re going to see kids improve and see kids try different event, grow and an athlete and grow as an individual. In an individual sport, you learn a lot about yourself.”
Butte High will get its first look at action at Missoula County Stadium, competing with Missoula Sentinel, Missoula Hellgate and Butte Central. (Schedule)
For the Butte High boys, Friday’s season opener will be a return to the track where the Bulldogs placed second at the Class AA State meet last May. That gave Grey his first trophy since he took over as the boys’ and girls’ head coach in 2014.
While Butte High’s boys saw a handful of state championships walk across the graduation stage last June, the Bulldogs still return 16 letterwinners from last year’s team.
That includes state place winners in senior Dylan Snyder and junior Cameron Gurnsey.
Snyder, a future Montana State football player, took fifth in the long jump and sixth in the high jump at State. He also figures to be a competitor in the sprints.
Gurnsey placed fourth in the high jump at State.
Snyder is a potential candidate to be the Tanner Huff of 2022. Last year, Huff came out of nowhere to win four gold medals at state, propelling him to a spot on the University of Montana football team.
Grey said several athletes are capable of being that surprise this year. That includes senior returning letterwinners Cole Worley, Holt Downey, Casey Kautzman, Kenley Leary, Brady Maloughney, Morgan McClernan, Jaric Sparks or Gavin Vetter.
McClernan has already signed to compete in track for Montana Tech. Kautzman is heading to MSU to kick.
The list of returning letterwinners includes juniors Wiley Dallaserra, Sean Ossello, Jonas Sherman and Cameron Tobiness and sophomores Trey Hansen and Kyler Stenson.
“We lost a good crew,” Grey said. “But have a lot of them who lettered and did some really nice things. Our younger kids last year, they really had a good year.”
Butte High only has three letterwinners returning on the girls’ side.
That includes senior Mollee Conlan, a future Montana Tech Orediggers. She won the Western AA Divisional championship in the 100 meters.
Conlan would be a four-year competitor at the Class AA State meet had the 2020 season not been lost to COVID-19.
Senior Kieyrah Killoy and Madison Seaholm also lettered for the Bulldogs last year.
Like with the boys, Grey said his girls’ team returns a lot of athletes who showcased their talent during last year’s season of dual meets.
“I’m excited because we’ve got some youth, and we’ve got some kids, on the girls’ side, who did some really nice things as the year went on last year,” Grey said. “With the kids coming back, it’s going to be pretty exciting to see how they improve from last year.”
Butte High’s season includes four home meets. Butte High will host a meet with Dillon, Central and Kalispell Glacier on April 14. The Bulldog boys’ host the Swede Dahlberg Invitational on April 14, and Butte High will compete at Central’s John Tomich Invitational on April 30.
The Bulldogs will take on Bozeman, Gallatin and Central on May 12. After the May 20-21 Western AA Divisional tournament in Missoula, Butte High will host the Class AA State meet May 27-28.
That meet will be run in conjunction with the Class A meet.
Grey said his team will use its schedule to make steady progress to get ready for the postseason, where they will hopefully compete for yet another trophy.
The first step is Friday.
“I’m excited,” Grey said. “I’m really excited. This is going to be kind of fun to see where we’re at.”