The Rebirth of Track

May 9, 2012 — Today the best and the brightest at the elementary schools here in town compete in the annual grade school track meet. Hopefully, we will see some shining star emerge
from today’s competition. During the decade of the 1980s, track was king here in the
Mining City. Each of the four high school programs experienced lots of success. In fact, during the decade a Butte team won the state title in six of the ten years. Overall, Butte teams won nine state titles during the ten-year span. The Lady Maroons and Lady Bulldogs each won three state championships. The Butte Central girls won three straight state titles in 1981, 1982 and 1983. The teams were coached by Rick Sparks. He had some brilliant athletes to coach like Cathy Gallagher, Meg Haran, Shawna Hanley, Missy Stajcar, Jessica Murray and Toni Callen. Across town, the Lady Bulldogs of Butte High
won three state titles in a four-year span. The superstar on those teams was Heidi Hemmert. She won multi-events at both the 1986 and 1987 state track meet. Another Bulldogs’ standout was Holly Maloney. She tallied 18 ½ points at the 1984 finals to lead the Lady Dogs to their first-ever state track title. Other standouts for the Bulldogs were Anna Wherry and Tami Mathewson. The Butte High boys won a pair of state crowns in 1981 and 1982. The Bulldogs were led by sprinter Danny Hanley, multi-event star Kelly Davis and Ron Collins who won the javelin at the 1982 state finals. Butte Central’s boys won their first and only state title in 1982. The Maroons were led by Brian Morris who won both hurdles races. Greg Johnson took the shot put, John McCarthy the 200-meter run and John McGree the triple jump. Since the glorious 1980s, the Butte track teams have struggled to win again on the track. The only state crown was won by the Lady Bulldogs in 2009. They edged Billings Senior by two points to win the first place trophy.
It’s the only time in the last twenty-five years the Lady Bulldogs have finished in the top three at the state track meet. The Lady Maroons have been stuck in the starting blocks since their last win in 1983. They finished third in 1986 their only top three finish in the past three decades. In fact, the last individual winner for the Lady Maroons was Kim McGree in the long jump in 2004. The Bulldogs’ boys have not won a state title in thirty years. Yet, unlike the other three programs they have come close. Butte High has placed
second six times in the past thirty years and came third twice. Unfortunately, last year they placed thirteenth, their lowest finish ever at the state meet. For the Butte Central boys they have won three divisional titles in 1997, 2001 and 2004, however at the state meet those three teams finished third twice and second once. Hopefully, some day Butte will return to their glory days on the track. It all begins with meets like the grade school event taking place today.