If the weather is any indicator, this could be a great season for track and field in Butte.
Butte High and Butte Central unveiled their 2013 spring editions Tuesday at the annual Butte High Time Trials track meet held at Charlie Merrifield Track in Bulldog Memorial Stadium, and both squads looked solid in the unscored meet. Also in attendance were Dillon, Ennis and Twin Bridges.
Butte’s girls got off to a fast start, as Rashae Emerson earned a State-qualifying mark in her first event – the shot put – while Erika McLeod also punched her ticket to the State meet with a win in the long jump.
“That was a nice start for Rashae,” Arie Grey said after his first meet as head Butte High girls’ coach. “I’m happy for her, and now she can concentrate on working on her technique.”
Emerson tossed the sphere 36-2, about a foot shy of her best mark last season, and won the event by more than five feet.
“It took a while to get to 37 feet last year,” Emerson noted. “So I’m happy with the throw. The pressure is off (to get to State) but I still want to push harder. I’ll work on a lot of drills and hopefully do a lot better.”
McLeod needed a jump of 16-6 to qualify for the Class AA State meet in the long jump, and that’s exactly the mark she recorded on Tuesday to win the event.
“I know Erika’s got a lot more in her,” Grey said after the meet. “She’s a great competitor, and she’s very good on the runway.
“The thing is, these girls know they’re getting back to work and try to get better every day.”
After just a day of outside practice, the Butte High girls looked strong. Junior Sammy McGree led a 1-2-4 Butte High finish in the 200, winning in less than a second of the State qualifying time of 26.70. She was closely followed by McLeod and Hailey Hoagland, who was also second in the 100.
Carlie Haeffner opened with a solid 5-foot clearance to win the high jump for the Bulldogs, and should be a contender this season in the long jump and triple jump as well. Natalie Faupel scored a winning throw of 109-1 in the javelin, though she’s spent very little time with the implement since last season.
“Natalie’s a little banged up,” Grey said. “We’ll rest her for the most part right now, but she’s a competitor.”
Faupel also ran the third leg of the winning sprint relay team, which finished in 51.73, just 1.13 seconds over the State qualifying time. McGree, Haeffner and McLeod were responsible for the other three sprints.
“They ran really well and they haven’t had any work on it yet,” Grey said. “They just went out and got after it. I’m happy with how they did, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
Butte High’s girls also got a nice showing from Andie Hogan, who took second in both the 800 and mile, while teammate Bailee Hanson chalked up a close third in the 800.
Sammy McGree’s cousin – freshman Whitney McGree of Butte Central – had a great debut in her prep career by winning the 100 handily in 13.61 seconds for the Maroons. That’s just .41 seconds off the Class A qualifying standard for the race. The youngster also hopped to a winning distance of 29-7 in the triple jump.
“Whitney had a really good day,” said Butte Central head coach Zach Stajcar, while noting Lacey McGree and Ryan Trudnowski are a pair of freshmen who will also boost the Maroons. Mariah Cooney, Cassidy McGree and Andi Ritter are three other athletes among Butte Central’s 11 girls who should be consistent point producers this season. Butte High transfer Rachel Banks and Sadie Harrington are also expected to contribute.
Butte High’s boys picked up where they left off last season as well. Sophomore Dalton Daum led a 1-2-3 sweep of the 200, while Jake Dennehy and Nick Butorovich went 1-2 in the discus. Kyle Christie won the pole vault and junior Tyler Earles scored a tight win in the 100 to go with his third-place showing in the 110 high hurdles.
“Some of our kids did really well today,” observed Charlie Merrifield of the first meet of his 58th season of coaching – in between hauling hurdles off the track and directing traffic near the finish line. “We held a lot of kids out of some events today, but I was pleased with how we looked.”
Daum, running on a pair of surgically repaired feet, was the clear winner in the 200, while he was closely followed by teammates Zach Bunney and Bo Taylor.
“Dalton looked smooth today,” Merrifield said. “Zach and Bo ran well too.”
Earles, however, caught Merrifield’s eye, especially in the hurdles. Earles had run but one hurdles race last season, and had been over only three barriers this year prior to his showing in the opening race of both the meet and season.
“Tyler’s a big, strong kid,” Merrifield said. “He’ll be a hurdler before he’s through.”
Christie won the pole vault with a clearance of 13 feet, and came within a hair of making 13-6, his top mark last season. Dennehy, who went as far as 146 feet in the discus at last year’s divisional meet, nearly eclipsed the mark with a spin of 144-2 in the finals Tuesday.
“It’s not a bad start,” Said Dennehy, who threw left-handed as a sophomore after an injury to his wrist that season. Dennehy also took fifth in the shot after switching to a spin after gliding through the ring last year.
In his first meet ever, Drew Schleeman made the finals in the discus and took second in the javelin with a heave of 149-9. He had thrown the spear just once before on Monday. Chase Plum recorded a second in the high jump at 5-8, while Jacob Eisenbarth also took third in the 100.
Butte Central’s boys saw Conor McGee take double wins in the 1,600 and 3,200, while Shannon Tempel surged from behind to win the 800 in the last 300 meters. Sophomore Marcus Ferriter also came on with a fifth-place finish in the discus.
“We had 12 of 27 kids competing today,” Stajcar said of his Maroons. “We still have some who need to get in their 10th practice, but we’re getting there.”
The Maroons are next at the Corvallis Invitational on April 6. Butte High hosts another home event on Friday, as the Bulldogs take on all three Class AA Missoula teams on Friday.
“Friday will give us a good idea of what we’ve got,” Merrifield said. “Missoula’s always good.”