By Bruce Sayler
The numbers might be a bit light, but the scoring potential looks positive for Butte Central as the Maroons wait for snow to clear and melt, and temperatures to warm a little more for embarkment on their 2019 high school track season.
Head coach Zack Stajcar has an experienced turnout of 18 tracksters and a veteran staff to work it as BC tries to guess when that first competition might occur.
“It’s not a big squad,” said Stajcar, who welcomed 18 Maroons to practice. “Half have seen what divisionals and state are all about and are looking to going again this year.”
As Stajcar mention, nine of the BC athletes competed at the 2018 state Class A track meet. And, this year’s freshman class produced only one track contestant, but she is a dandy. The Maroons have a good season planned.
When it may start could be the biggest problem. Wintry weather canceled the opener at Corvallis, another shot at a Corvallis meet was denied because the field was already full and so the BC crew is looking at, perhaps, a next Tuesday debut in Butte.
Stajcar is thinking more realistic.
“April 6th in Belgrade,’’ he targeted as being the most likely opener for Butte Central.
The Maroons have been practicing in the Maroon Activities Center, which has space to run in and a jumping pit in the front hallway.
The turnout of 18 athletes breaks into 12 boys and six girls, and Stajcar likes the chances of both squads to score meaningful points in the postseason by the end of this year.
The girls are led by senior state Class A long jump champion Lindsay McGree, the unofficially 550th McGree to win a state jumping championship, She won the state crown with a leap of 17 feet, 3 ¾ inches, and is a contender for points in the triple jump, 100-meter hurdles and, perhaps, relays and sprints, as well.
Some of her biggest competition may come from freshman teammate and younger sister, Rileigh McGree. As an eighth-grader, Rileigh McGree consistently floated long jumps in the 16 ½ to 17-foot range.
“Her hurdles time last year would’ve met the qualifying times for the state high school meet,” Stajcar said. “She has some events in which she has done really well coming into her first high school season.”
The McGree girls are the younger sisters of recent BC standouts Whitney and Rachael McGree, who went on to compete for Carroll and Montana State, respectively. Rachael McGree was a five-time state champion for Butte Central and their dad, Dan, was a Maroons’ great, too, and a 50-foot triple-jumper for Gonzaga. Dan McGree is also a former BC head track coach, and is on Stajcar’s staff as a 28-year member of the track coaching contingent for Butte Central.
Along with Lindsay McGree, the girls’ team for the Maroons also returns sophomore Amira Bolton, sisters Cheyenne and Savannah Parks and sophomore Jaci Stillwagon from last year’s team. Bolton advanced to the state meet in the high jump, and Cheyenne Parks ran on the BC state qualifying relay teams. Both are looked to for place-winnings this year, with Parks improving in the sprints. Stajcar said Savannah Parks should do well in the distance races, and that Stillwagon is looking to get to state in the shot put in discus.
“It would be great if we could see her get to state as a sophomore in those events,” Stajcar said.
The Butte Central boys bring back bigger and stronger Aaron Richards, Cade Holter and Ryan Wahl in the throwing events to lead the way.
“They’re also more put together than they were last year,” Stajcar said, speaking to the emotional and physical maturity of juniors Richards and Wahl, and the senior, Holter.
Junior Cutter Thatcher, a 40-foot triple jumper, is back to compete in the jumps and relays and senior Clay Fisher leads the pack in the sprints and adds to the relays.
The rest of the personnel teammate is competing for spots, seeking places to fit, contribute and maybe even star as the Maroons embark on another season.
“As long as we can stay positive with the bad weather, and work hard each day, we can have a good season with both the boys and the girls,” Stajcar said.
A veteran corps of coaches is again helping Stajcar with the program duties as McGree, Bob Johnson, Marc Gilboy, John Rolich and Richie O’Brien returned to the fold.
“I have myself surrounded with pretty knowledgeable coaches,” said Stajcar, himself a 2002 BC graduate and former football and track standout for Butte Central.
The Western A Divisional track meet is scheduled for May 17-18 at Bulldog Memorial Stadium in Butte, with the state Class A meet set for May 24-25 in Laurel.