By Bruce Sayler
Some Butte track athletes enjoyed some of their greatest moments on a nice sunny, but windy, Friday at Bulldog Memorial Stadium, located in the Gene Fogarty Complex.
Butte High and Butte Central made half of the schools entered in the boys’ and girls’ triangular meet on the stadium’s Charlie Merrifield Track. Billings Senior and Missoula Sentinel filled out the entry list.
Sentinel swept the team titles by scoring 109 points in the boys’ meet and 96 in the girls.’ Seniors Ally Cleverly and Gabbie Parini led a Butte High effort that stacked 83 points in the girls’ competition, outscoring Billings Senior and Butte Central. Billings Senior edged Butte High by five points, 69-64, to claim second place in the boys’ standings. Butte Central was fourth.
The highlight event must have been the girls’ long jump. Sentinel standouts Ashley McElmurry and Lauren Heggen outdistanced personal-bests by both Lindsay McGree of Butte Central and Parini in a virtual jump riot.
McElmurry placed herself among the all-time bests in the event with a 19-foot, 3 ½-inch winning mark. Heggen, the reigning state AA champ in the event, was second at 18-11 and McGree the reigning state Class A long jump champion, landed just a smidgen below going a whole foot over her previous best when she hit 18-3 ½, She stuck a 17-3 ¾ in winning State A last year with a then personal record. Parini, whose previous personal best was 16-9. Sprang 17-8 ½ for fourth place. All of McGree’s jumps were in the high 17s or low 18s, Butte Central head coach Zack Stajcar said. The 18-3 ½ is just short of the 18-6 Butte Central school record Butte Sports Hall of Famer Tami Mathewson posted in the mid-1980s before starring in the event for the University of Washington.
The girls’ triple jump was almost as ahhh-inspiring. A Maroons assistant coach, Dan McGree, former head coach of the team, passed along that the two Sentinel stars each broke 40 feet and said he believed former Whitehall standout Kellie Glaus was the only in-state girl to pass 40 feet in the triple until Heggen, 40-7 ½, and McElmurry, 40-2 ¼, performed Friday. A social media posting from Sentinel Track and Field said the Spartans are now the only girls’ program in the nation to have two 40-foot triple jumpers.
“We finally got a good week of training and work on techniques in the jumps,” Stajcar said of BC’s good showing. “Lindsay’s been consistent all year, then got to have a big day, today.
“The jumps were good today, though the track (athletes) seemed a little slow — probably just not enough time outside yet.”
The coach credited Amira Bolton with a good high jump at 4-7 which gave her sixth place. The height actually tied Butte High’s Christiana Beierle for fifth place, but Beierle racked up fewer misses. Kendra Wynia of Billings Senior was the winner at 4-11, but Butte High jumpers placed second and third for three place-winners in the event. Juniors Jadyn Malone and Kira Mortensen both cleared 4-11, also, but lost to Wynia on the misses criteria.
Parini won the 100-meter dash to go along with her placing in the long jump. She was also on the winning 400-meter relay team, placed second to Cleverly in the 200 and ran a leg of the runner-up 1,600-meter relay contingent. Her time in the 100 was 13.18, a tenth of a second ahead of Heggen. Butte girls took the next three places with Bulldog freshman Mollie Conlan third, Cleverly fourth and McGree fifth.
“It was really nice,” Parini said of her race down the straightaway in the 100. “The weather held up and it was my best 100 this year.”
She said her career-best is a 13.12 clocked as a freshman.
“The 4×100 and the long jump are my favorite events,” Parini said. “The 100 just helps me get through it.”
She said she has accomplished goal she set for herself this season — qualifying for the state AA meet in the long jump — and is now more focused on trying to help her 400-meter relay team qualify for it.
“We were close, we’re looking at qualifying,” she said.
The poor track weather athletes have had to endure this spring has been an obstacle, but little more than a nuisance, the disciplined Parini, a dedicated competitor in track as well as wrestling, said.
“I’m the only thing that can get into my head,” she said. “But, sometimes I don’t do too well if the weather is bad.”
She will wrestle for Providence-Great Falls in college after being a member of the Butte High program, qualifying this year for the state AA tournament. She has found a way for her two sports to successfully intersect and make for good use.
“This (the conditioning) helps me for wrestling,” she said, “and the wrestling helped in getting my weight down for track.”
Butte High girl sprinters finished one-two in both the 200 and 400 as Cleverly broke the tape just ahead of Parini in the 200 by timing 27.11 and was runner-up to sophomore teammate Anna Trudnowski, 1:00.32,in the 400. Bulldog Brenda Fode was fifth in the 400.
Butte High had two place-winners in the 800 with Hailey Nielson second and Kyla Felix fifth. Butte Central’s Cheyanne Parks placed sixth. Nielson was third in the 1,600 and Parks was fifth in the 3,200.
Braleigh Garrett was third and Trudnowski fourth for Butte High in the 100-meter hurdles. Rileigh McGree of Butte Central was sixth. Bulldog Danika Murphy was the 300-meter hurdles runner-up.
Beierle tied for fifth place in the pole vault while teammate Gabby Haberman placed sixth. Trudnowski added a sixth place in the triple jump. The Butte High girls did well in the throw, too, as Halley Herron placed second and Josie Klapan third in the discus; Herron second, Kylee Field third and Kallie Hossack sixth in the shot put; and Klapan third and Faith Kelly fifth in the javelin.
“We had a lot of personal bests and a lot of season bests,” Butte High head coach Arie Grey said. “The boys and the girls — the kids competed like they do every year. We picked up a few more state qualifiers, today.
“Our boys’ 400-meter relay qualified and so did Tommy (Mellott) in the 400. Anna and Ally in the 400 did, and our girls’ 400-meter relay is close.”
Mellott was one of the stars of the boys’ meet. He won the 400 in 51.18, only his second open 400 of the spring and also was the runner-up in the 100 to Sentinel speedster Jaden Foster, and was on the winning 400-meter relay and runner-up 1,600-meter relay.
Other Butte High winners were the 400-meter relay team (43.39), Josh Neil in the 200 (24.05), Quinn Sullivan in the 110-meter hurdles (15.91) and Jake Vetter in the 800 (2:03.64).
“We’re winding down with one more week to put together our team for divisionals,” Grey said, then cited Tanner Huff as an example of Bulldog tracksters making big gains in better weather.
Huff chucked the javelin 169-3 for fourth place in a discipline dominated all this spring was by Friday winner Rylan Ortt of Sentinel, who is one of the top five javelin throwers in the United States among high schoolers. He 203-2 throw Friday was 26 feet beyond runner-up and teammate Brock Field. Butte Central’s Cade Holter was third at 174-7.
“Tanner has gotten better every week,” Grey said. “It’s been a lot of fun. This is a great group to be around.”
The final place-winnings for the boys’ meet also showed Neil in fourth, Sullivan fifth and teammate Tucker Winston fifth in the 100; Winston second, followed by fellow Bulldogs Zach Carlson in fourth, Rylan Richards fifth and Zach Merrifield sixth in the 200; Thomas McGree of Butte Central fourth in the 110-meter high hurdles; John Connole of Butte High sixth in the 300-meter hurdles; the 1,600-meter relay team, second; Bulldogs Keagan Gransbery fourth and Gavin Vetter sixth in the pole vault; Cutter Thatcher of Butte Central second and Neil fourth in the long jump; Bulldogs Aidan Pezdark second, Cory West fifth and Jack Boone sixth in the triple jump; Aaron Richards of Butte Central second, and Luke Kingston and Konor McClafferty, both of Butte High, third and fourth, respectively, in the shot put; and Richards third and fellow Maroon Ryan Wahl fourth in the discus.
“We’re short on numbers, but the kids we have all have good athleticism,” Stajcar commented.
The meet was Butte High’s last home competition of the season. The Bulldogs will vie in Bozeman next Thursday before entering the post-season the next week.
“We got in a good week of training and now we have a good week to put it together,” Grey said. “We’re hoping for continued good weather.”