By Bill Foley
What a race.
That was the general consensus after the girls’ 100-meter dash Saturday at the Class AA State track meet on the Charlie Merrifield Track inside the Gene Fogarty Complex. (Results)
What a race.
Butte High senior Mollee Conlan did not find herself on top of the podium afterword. That spot belonged to Billings West star Jaeden Wolff, who defending her state title with a state-record time of 12.08 seconds.
Conlan, though, did the one thing she could do. She ran as fast as she ever has.
The future Montana Tech Oredigger placed fourth with a personal-record time of 12.58 seconds. Over the last two meets, Conlan has shaved nearly a half second off her PR.
“I’m just excited,” Conlan said after she finished the final race of her Bulldog career. It was an All-State performance.
“She ran her personal best. That’s the No. 1 thing,” Bulldog coach Arie Grey said. “The last three races that she had she ran her personal best. That is pretty special.”
Logan Todorovich of Helena took second at 12.38, and Ave Roberts of Billings Skyview placed third at 12.43. Belgrade’s Jordan Cassidy, who placed second a year ago in Missoula, finished fifth in 12.64, and Isabella Ping of Billings Senior placed sixth at 12.75.
The top six in each division earn All-State recognition.
As she waited for the times to appear on the reader board, Conlan knew she ran well.
“I saw coach Grey point to the time and telling me where I was,” she said. “I felt really good. My start was pretty good. I knew I had to get out, get a good start and really kind of drive. It was very fun.”
As the lone Bulldog girl to qualify for State in an individual event, Conlan was the only Butte girl to score points. She posted four.
“That’s a lot of pressure, and she handled it really well,” Grey said, adding that Conlan, a four-year letter winner, improved as the season went on. “She just stayed patient all year and ran her fastest at the end of the year, which is what you want to do. She was pressing early. Once she relaxed and ran, she did some special things.”
Helena High’s girls won the team title with 144 points. Billings West took second at 110. Missoula Hellgate was a distant third at 47, and Missoula Sentinel placed fourth at 46.
Wolff also won the title in the 200 meters. Other girls to win state titles on Saturday were Odessa Zentz of Helena High in the 800, Kensey May of Hellgate in the 3,200, Todorovich in the 100 hurdles, Taylee Chirrick of West in the 300 hurdles and the Billings West 1,600-meter relay team.
Butte High’s girls place 16th in the 1,600 relay with Gabriella McPeek, Madison Seaholm, McKenzie Case and Pieper Joseph each running a leg.
On the boys’ side, Sentinel defended its title with 89 points. Kalispell Glacier finished second at 80, and Gallatin took third with 71.
Butte High finished 11th with 19 points, 17 of which came on Friday when Gavin Vetter took second in the pole vault, Jonas Sherman finished third in the high jump and Jaric Sparks placed fourth in the pole vault.
Senior Holt Downey placed fifth in the 110-hurdles to earn All-State honors on Saturday. Classmate Morgan McClernan placed seventh in the event. McClernan also placed 13th in the 300 hurdles.
Downey and McClernan will run for Montana Tech.
Bulldog junior Cameron Tobiness closed his solid season by placing eighth in the triple jump.
Butte High’s boys ran to third in their heat and 12th overall in the 1,600 relay. Isaac Kohler, Cole Stewart, McClernan and Downey each ran a leg.
Boys to win AA state titles Saturday were Sentinel’s Hudson Lembke in the 100, Helena Capital’s Thomas Carter in the 200, Sentinel’s Keagan Crosby in the 800, Bozeman’s Weston Brown in the 3,200, Sentinel’s Drew Kumph in the 110 hurdles, Gallatin’s Tyler Gilman in the 300 hurdles and the Gallatin 1,600 relay team.
Grey said he was pleased with how his boys performed.
“We ended up scoring more than we were projected to score,” he said. “I thought we had a really nice weekend. The kids came and competed.”
The Bulldogs just did not have enough athletes qualified to repeat their second-place finish from last year.
“We know that we’ve got to get more kids here,” Grey said. “Some of our younger kids got that experience to see what this is like and just build on what we did.”