It will be the biggest track meet of the century.
For the first time since 1997, the Class AA and Class A metts will be held together, and the Mining City is the host.
The Charlie Merrifield Track inside the Gene Fogarty Complex will be full of some of the best athletes in the state Thursday through Saturday.
Teams can practice at the facility on Thursday, and action officially begins at 4 p.m. with the Class AA and Class A girls’ pole vault competitions. Events that include athletes from Butte High and Butte Central begin on Friday. (Schedule; Class A heat sheets; Class AA heat sheets)
Butte High is coming off a second-place finish on the boys’ side last year in Missoula. The odds are stacked against the Bulldogs returning to the podium in 2020 simply because of numbers.
The Bulldogs, though, are optimistic they can do big things on their home track.
Seniors Holt Downey and Morgan McClernan, a pair of future Montana Tech Orediggers, will each compete in three events. McClernan will run the 110- and 300-meter hurdles races and the 1,600-meter relay. Downey will run the 400 and 1,600 relay as well as the 110 hurdles.
Senior Dylan Snyder, a future Montana State football player, will compete in two events after missing much of the season with mononucleosis. He will jump in the long jump and run the short relay.
Junior Cameron Tobiness, who has made an impressive late-season surge, will compete in the high jump and triple jump.
Seniors Gavin Vetter and Jaric Sparks are among the favorites to medal in the pole vault.
With Butte High qualifying for both relays, seniors Kenley Leary, Jakob Nielson, Cole Worley, and Cole Stewart, junior Issac Kohler, and sophomores Wyatt Gross and Brock Ludwick will be ready to run for the Bulldogs.
On the girls’ side, senior Mollee Conlan is the only Bulldog to qualify individual, and she did it in impression fashion. Conlan won the Western AA Divisional title in the 100 meters with a personal-record time of 12.64 seconds Saturday in Missoula.
The Montana Tech signee did that into a headwind, too. Conlan will also run a leg of Butte High’s 400-meter relay.
The Bulldogs will have both relay teams in the field, with seniors McKenzie Case, Pieper Joseph and Teagan Kennis, juniors Madison Seaholm, Emmarie Richards, Gabriella McPeek and Alexandrea Kovnesky, and freshmen Darby Harrington and Dylann Bartoletti running legs.
Seaholm and McPeek will run both relays.
Butte Central’s girls have a pair of defending champions competing for the Maroons. Senior Rileigh McGree and sophomore Ellar Moodry almost picked up a team medal by themselves at last year’s State meet in Laurel.
This year, the Maroons also have future Carroll College thrower Kinley Hamilton on their side. The senior qualified in the discus.
Moodry won the state championship in the javelin last year. Last week, she won the Western A Divisional title in the event with a personal-best mark of 130 feet, 8 inches in Hamilton. She will also compete in the long jump, where McGree is the defending champ.
McGree, a senior who has signed with the University of Montana, will look to continue the “McGree Streak.” The year was 2015 the last time the Class A girls’ long jump was won by someone who wasn’t a daughter of Lisa and Dan McGree.
Rachael McGree won in 2016 and 2017, and her sister Lindsay won it in 2018 and 2019. After COVID wiped out the 2020 season, Rileigh McGree won the title in 2021.
The youngest of the McGree sisters also won the 100- and 300-meter hurdle titles last year. She is entered in those events again this year, as well as the 100 meters.
Butte Central’s boys’ team has just five individuals competing, but they are five with a ton of promise.
Junior Kyle Holter has opened tons of eyes as the season went on. He will represent the Maroons in the high jump and long jump.
Junior Riley Gelling with throw the discus, sophomore Jack Keeley will compete in the javelin, and freshman Sam Henderson will jump in the triple jump.
Holter, Moodry, Gelling and sophomore Zane Moodry will run the 400-meter relay for the Maroons.
The Hamilton boys and Laurel girls are the defending champions in the Class A meet. Missoula Sentinel swept the Class AA titles a year ago.
The Class B and Class C State meets will be held in Great Falls.
Below is a list of the Butte High and Butte Central athletes competing at State.
Dylann Bartoletti — 400 relay
McKenzie Case — 400 relay
Mollee Conlan — 100, 400 relay
Darby Harrington — 1,600 relay
Pieper Joseph — 1,600 relay
Teagan Kennis — 400 relay
Alexandria Kovnesky — 1,600 relay
Gabriella McPeek — 400 relay, 1,600 relay
Emmarie Richards — 400 relay
Madison Seaholm — 400 relay, 1,600 relay
Holt Downey — 110 hurdles, 400 relay, 1,600 relay
Wyatt Gross — 400 relay
Isaac Kohler — 1,600 relay
Kenley Leary — 400 relay
Broc Ludwick — 400 relay
Morgan McClernan — 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles, 1,600 relay
Jakob Nielsen — 1,600 relay
Jonas Sherman — High jump
Dylan Snyder — Long jump, 400 relay
Jaric Sparks — Pole vault
Cole Stewart — 1,600 relay
Cameron Tobiness — High jump, triple jump
Gavin Vetter — Pole vault
Cole Worley — 400 relay
Kinley Hamilton — Discus
Rileigh McGree — 100, 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, long jump
Ella Moodry — Javelin, long jump
Kyle Holter — High jump, long jump, 400 relay
Zane Moodry — 400 relay
Riley Gelling — Discus, 400 relay
Jack Keeley — Javelin, 400 relay
Sam Henderson — Triple jump