Erika McLeod a rare jewel

Last weekend Butte High senior track athlete, Erika McLeod, had a meet for the ages. She won four individual events at the state track meet in Great Falls. Erika earned gold medals in the 200-meter run, 300-meter low hurdles, long jump and triple jump competition. In addition, she was second in the 100-meter high hurdles. McLeod finished with a remarkable 48 individual points.

McLeod’s feat is a rare accomplishment in the history of high school track and field in Butte. There are only two other athletes from Butte to win four individual titles at the state track meet in one year.

Tami Mathewson was the first to achieve this back in 1986. Tami, a freshmen at Butte Central, won four events at the Class A state meet held here in Butte. She was the only person on her team to score and finished third as a team.

Butte High’s Jake Larson won four individual gold medals in 2001 at the state meet in Great Falls. Larson just missed winning a fifth title at 200 meters, losing to Bulldog teammate, Zach Ueland.  Larson was also a member of a 4 X 100 relay team that took the state crown. Overall, Larson tallied 50.5 points, the most ever by a Butte athlete at a state meet.

Now, McLeod joins that elite group putting her at the top of the list of all time greats in high school track in Butte.

To show just how special winning four state titles in one year is drop down one notch to Butte athletes who earned three individual gold medals at the same state track. The list of athletes with three goal medals is limited to eight athletes.

Besides Mathewson, the only other Butte Central athlete to win three titles is Cathy Gallagher in 1981. Across town, besides McLeod and Larson, other Bulldogs to win at least three gold medals are Buddy Phelps who did it twice in 1914 and 1915, Fred Molthen in 1916, Heidi Hemmert in 1987 and Tony Cunneen in 2007.

To put it into perspective how rare McLeod’s accomplishments are consider this weekend’s Belmont Stakes horse race. California Chrome will attempt to win horse racing first triple crown in 36 years. If California Chrome wins, the horse will be only the 12th to ever capture that prized jewel.

There have been more triple crown champions than there have been Butte athletes who won three gold medals at the state track meet.