Local prep track season opens with Time Trials

It seems weather will permit, so the annual Butte High Time Trials track and field meet should take place Tuesday at 3:15 p.m. at Charlie Merrifield Track in Bulldog Memorial Stadium, situated in the Gene Fogarty Athletic Complex, which is located adjacent to East Middle School.

Mother Nature has seen fit to arrange for the cancelation of the season-opening meet for many of the attempts over the past decade, but forecasts call for acceptable spring-like conditions. Along with host Butte High, athletes are expected from Butte Central, Dillon, Missoula Sentinel, Ennis and Twin Bridges.

The season is certainly young, as the Bulldogs will see only their second day on the track this season.

“Today was our first time on the track,” veteran Butte High boys’ head coach Charlie Merrifield said Monday. “We’ve got quite a few kids out. Tomorrow we’ll find out a little more about how we’ll be.”

None of the local teams fared particularly well at last year’s State meets. In fact, the best performance of all the teams to be represented Tuesday in Butte was turned in by the Twin Bridges boys, who tied for fifth place at last spring’s Class C meet in Butte.

“The AA certainly doesn’t have a monopoly on good athletes,” Merrifield quipped.

Butte High’s boys finished 11th last season, but bring back the bulk of their team, including a talented sprint relay team that lost only Cody Carriger. They’re still left with Dalton Daum, Bo Taylor and Zach Bunney. Merrifield expects junior Tyler Earles to take the vacated spot, at least for now.

Kyle Christie is back in the pole vault, while Jake Dennehy, Nick Butorovich and Anthony Moritz lead a solid weights group. Peter Granger is expected to compete in the high jump, while Gage Weston has shown promise in the javelin.

Butte High’s girls bid farewell to veteran head coach Tom Roberts last season, and have welcomed Arie Grey into the lead coaching position.

The Bulldog girls had a rough go at State last time around, but have some talent returning. Erika McLeod, Natalee Faupel and Carlie Haeffner bring speed, while Sammy McGree is solid in the jumping events. The foursome also made up last season’s state long and sprint relay teams. Haeffner also tied for fourth in the high jump, while qualifying for State in the long jump. Faupel also returns as one of Montana’s top javelin throwers.

Butte Central’s girls have returning State experience with Alysea Pica, while the Maroon boys look to jumper Connor McGree and distance man Conor McGee.

As for the strategy at this point in the season? Entering his 58th season of coaching, Charlie Merrifield has a good start. “We’ll try to be the first one across the finish line,” he said with a hearty laugh.

5th annual Russ Pilcher Western Montana Top 10 track meet