By Bill Foley
Saturday began with Lindsay McGree being passed over by an oversight.
When the day ends, it will go down as one the Butte Central senior could never possibly forget.
McGree jumped 16 feet, 10 inches into the wind to claim the long jump title for the fourth straight year at Butte Central’s John Tomich Invitational Track Meet at the Charlie Merrifield Track in the Gene Fogarty Complex. (Team scores; Individual results)
“I could almost cry,” McGree said of winning her favorite event at her favorite meet. “It’s been a dream of mine.”
The meet is named in honor McGree’s grandfather who died the year she was born.
She calls it her “grandpa’s meet.”
The 16-10 mark is McGree’s best of the season, but it was not a career best for the defending Class A long jump champion.
Her victory in the 100-meter race, though, was a different story.
McGree posted a time of 12.97 seconds. Her personal-best time is a state qualifier that surprised even McGree.
“I really surprised myself,” she said. “But I’ve been working really hard, and I’ve been happy with the result.”
(Story continues below photo gallery)
The BC star ran in the second heat of the 100 instead of the first and fastest. That is because of the innocent oversight.
“They didn’t see me,” McGree said with a laugh. “They do it by school, and they didn’t see me.”
So just when it looked like Butte High senior Ally Cleverly posted a 100-meter victory with a time of 13.21 seconds, McGree knocked her down a slot with the fastest race of her life.
“It’s finally come together today,” McGree said, referring to a season that has been slow going because of bad weather. “It’s been rough so far. I just keep trying every day.”
Freshman Rileigh McGree, Lindsay’s sister, also surely made her grandfather proud.
She placed second in the 100-meter hurdles and the triple jump. She also ran to third place while competing in the 300 hurdles for the first time.
Butte High, the lone Class AA school at the meet, won the girls’ title. Butte High scored 131 points to top second-place Laurel by 13 points.
Belgrade placed third at 70, followed by Dillon at 57 and BC at 45.
Cleverly, a senior, and sophomores Anna Trudnowski and Braleigh Garrett posted victories to lead the Bulldog girls.
Cleverly ran to victory in the 400 with a time of 1 minutes, 1.16 seconds. She won the 200 with a time of 26.90. Both those marks were just off the state qualifying standard.
Trudnowski capped a really good week with a title in the high jump. She cleared 5 feet, 1 inch before just missing on her attempt to clear a personal-best 5-5.
On Tuesday, Trudnowski won the Russ Pilcher Western Montana Top 10 Meet in Missoula by clearing 5-4.
“I’m still hoping to get 5-5,” Trudnowski said. “That’s what I really want.”
The victory was one of four events in which Trudnowski scored points for the Bulldogs. She placed third in the 100 hurdles, fourth in the triple jump and fifth in the 300 hurdles.
The top six places in each event scored team points.
Garrett ran to victory in the 100 hurdles, crossing in 16.37 seconds.
Senior Gabbie Parini placed in three events, taking second in the 200 and third in the 100 and long jump. Madalynn Rhodes took third in the javelin and sixth in the pole vault.
Hailey Herron in the discus, Hailey Nielson in the 3,200 and Kira Mortensen in the high jump posted second-place finishes for the Bulldog girls.
Other Bulldog girls to score points were Hannah Morin-Ferguson (fourth, high jump), Faith Kelly (fifth, javelin), Christiana Beierle (sixth, high jump) and McKenna Kennis (sixth, triple jump).
Butte High placed second in the 400-meter relay, and fourth in the 1,600 relay.
Savannah Parks scored points for BC with a fifth-place finish in the 3,200. The Maroons took sixth in the 400 relay.
On the boys’ side, Frenchtown won the team title with 102 points. Laurel took second with 100 points, one more than third-place Butte High. Dillon followed with 98.5, while BC placed fifth at 49.
Junior Tommy Mellott wrapped up a great eight-day stretch to lead the Bulldog boys.
Mellott won the 100 with a time of 11.29 before claiming the long jump title with a leap of 20 feet, 7 inches. He also placed fourth in the 400.
He also ran a leg of the first-place 400-meter relay team — along with Tucker Winston, Quinn Sullivan and Josh Neil.
The big day came after Mellott won the long jump at the Dahlberg Invitational on April 19. He placed second in the 200 at the Top 10 meet in Missoula.
“It was a great day,” Mellott said while cheering on teammate Zach Carlson in the 800. “It’s been a great week, starting last week with the Dahlberg and going onto the Top 10. I’m proud of it.”
The three meets for Mellott represent a breakout after the sluggish start for spring sports in Montana.
“I feel like I’m getting in track shape, and I’m happy about it,” he said. “I’m just trying to get better.”
Neil placed in three events, taking second in the 200, third in the long jump and fifth in the 100. Zach Merrifield placed third in the 200 and sixth in the 100.
Sullivan took second in the 110 hurdles, while Tanner Huff in the javelin, Billy Kelly and Jack Boone in the high jump and Aidan Pezdark in the triple jump placed third.
Keagan Gransbery and Luke Harding of Butte tied for fourth in the pole vault. Jake Vetter ran to fifth in the 400, and Winston placed sixth in the 200.
The Bulldogs placed fourth in the 1,600 relay without running their top team. That squad qualified for state at the Top 10 meet.
Junior Cutter Thatcher placed in the top four in three events to lead the Butte Central boys. He too second in the long jump, coming up 1 inch short of Mellott.
Thatcher beat Mellott by an inch in the 400, taking third. He also took fourth in the triple jump.
Aaron Richards took second in the discus and third in the shot put for BC. Cade Holter finished second in the javelin, and Ryan Wahl placed third in the discus.
Thomas McGree added a sixth place in the triple jump, and BC’s short relay team placed fifth.
The Maroons and Bulldogs will compete again at home Friday when they compete with Billings Senior and Missoula Sentinel.