McLeod defends long jump title

GREAT FALLS – Speed was the norm Friday during the opening act of the Montana Class AA State Track and Field meet at Memorial Stadium in Great Falls.

Butte High is home to two of the fastest, as senior Erika McLeod and junior Dalton Daum shot out to exceptional opening-day performances at the final meet of the season.

McLeod successfully defended her state title in the long jump, as her mark of 17 feet, 6 inches easily held up to claim the crown.

Daum, who has his share of silver and bronze medals from past State meets, set himself up well in Friday’s trials, winning his heats in the 100 and 200 and establishing the fastest time thus far in both races.

“Dalton knows what he needs to do,” Butte High head coach Arie Grey said.

Daum, a junior, will compete in the 100 finals, 200 finals and the mile relay on Saturday.

McLeod, whose winning long jump mark was more than a foot better than second place, was happy with the win, but disappointed that her last jump scratched by a toe, erasing what looked like a big-measurement mark – certainly farther than any of her previous efforts.

“I really wanted 19 feet,” McLeod said, noting the distance that would beat the current record of 18-11.75. “I’m bummed, but I’m over it. I’ve still got a lot I need to think about tomorrow.”

Indeed. Done with all her heats, McLeod will race for titles in the 100 hurdles, the 300 hurdles, the 200 and the triple jump. Oh, and don’t forget the anchor leg of the Bulldog mile relay.

“To repeat in the long jump is huge,” Grey noted. “What a great series of jumps. I’m proud of her and I’m happy for her.”

Shannon Tempel notched another personal-best mark in the 800 and the sophomore claimed fifth place on the podium with his 1:56.56. He was well off the lead after the first lap, but began to make his move on the back straightaway. Tempel was in seventh with 150 meters to go, but he scratched and fought his way through the crowd for his first medal.

“Shannon got stuck in the middle there and it looked like he broke stride about four times,” Grey said. “That might have been a good thing though, and he really gutted that one out.”

Tempel said he was just happy to place, and credited coach Mara Osborne for the workouts that improved his time more than nine seconds in the last year.

“She’ll run us a long way, then make us do sprints when we’re tired,” Tempel explained. “That’s what made the difference for me today.”

Butte High also got a podium appearance for senior javelin thrower McKenzee O’Neill, who utilized the final throw of her high school career to pull into sixth place and also establish a personal-best mark. O’Neill’s best effort previously this season was 117 feet, nine feet farther than she had been going earlier in the season, but a couple feet short of last season’s top mark of 119 feet. She was in seventh with a throw of 120 feet Friday, then moved up enough to earn a medal when she went 122 feet on her final effort.

“McKenzee had a great series today,” Grey said. “It was her goal to place here, and she worked hard and competed to get it done.”

The day didn’t begin well for the Bulldogs. Running in the first leg of Butte’s first race, the 4×100-meter relay, Bulldog senior Jake Eisenbarth pulled up with an injured hamstring about 75 meters into the race, and all but limped into his exchange with Tyler Earles. Damien Hayden and Daum didn’t quit, and didn’t finish last, either, but also didn’t qualify for the finals.

Butte High’s girls’ relay team didn’t qualify either, but the three freshmen – Sydney Pendergast, Bailey McCarthy and Mar Sorini – as well as sophomore Mijah McLeod, earned plenty of experience and will surely be back faster next season.

Clay Dean had a rough go in the 110 high hurdles, as he clipped nearly every barrier with one or both of his feet and settled for a time well off his pace, leaving him out of the race finals. Dean also finished out of the money in the 400 finals, but will be back Saturday in the 300 hurdles and the Butte High mile relay at the end of the meet.

Bailee Hanson also saw her individual prep track career come to an end with an 11th place finish in the 400, but the senior will get another trip around the oval shortly before the boys Saturday afternoon.

Events are scheduled to resume Saturday with field events at 9 a.m. and track events beginning at 10:30.

State AA results

Butte’s Erika McLeod soars in the air on her winning long jump Friday at Memorial Stadium in Great Falls.

Butte sophomore Shannon Tempel competes in the 800 Friday in Great Falls.

Mijah McLeod prepares to hand off to Bailey McCarthy in the girls’ sprint relay Friday in Great Falls.

Jessica Buckley launches the shot put Friday at the State Class AA meet at Memorial Stadium in Great Falls.

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