Some top times and marks were registered by local athletes at Saturday’s John Tomich Invitational track meet, hosted by Butte Central at the Charlie Merrifield Track at Bulldog Memorial Stadium at the Gene Fogarty Athletic Complex at East Middle School.
The Maroons collected a pair of individual wins on the day, as Kyle Harrington shaved off an amazing seven tenths of a second from his previous best 200-meter dash time to win the event in 23.07 seconds. On the girls’ side, Butte Central’s Chandra McCurdy won the javelin with a toss of 111 feet, 6 inches.
“It turned out to be a pretty good day,” said Butte Central head coach Zack Stajcar. “I was happy with a lot of what I saw out here.”
Butte High, which earned a team win on the boys’ side, also got some outstanding individual finishes. Peter Granger won the long and triple jumps, while Dalton Daum was first in the 100 and fourth in the long jump. Shannon Tempel won the 800 and was third in the 1,600, while Mitchell Harper won the high jump. Erika McLeod won the long jump and both hurdles races to pace the Bulldog girls, while teammate Joby Rosenleaf won the 1,600 and was second in the 3,200.
Butte’s boys won with 109 points, Belgrade was second with 83, Stevensville was third at 70 1/3 and Butte Central took fourth with 68. Belgrade won the girls’ side with 113 points with Dillon in a close second at 111. Butte High and Laurel tied for third with 69 points, while Butte Central was ninth with 13 points.
With sunshine and temperate conditions, athletes were able to compete in some of the better weather of the season. Still, a number of runners and jumpers pulled up lame before the end of the day.
Butte Central’s Cole Harper extended 19-6 ½ to take second in the long jump, but injured his hip in the process. Stajcar said the extent of the injury won’t be known for a few days.
One of the more interesting races of the day saw another costly injury. In the boys’ 100-meter dash, Daum held a narrow lead over Dillon’s Mick Paffhausen at the tail end of the race, but the Dillon speedster hurt his leg in finishing second, and didn’t compete again Saturday. Daum won in 11.20 seconds, Paffhausen was second at 11.40 and Harrington took third at 11.61. Butte High tight end Tyler Earles represented linemen well by taking sixth at 11.85, a hundredth of a second faster than Butte Central’s Wyatt Kingston.
Daum didn’t escape the day perfectly healthy either. The junior speedster hurt a leg in the long jump preliminaries, and didn’t compete in the finals, though his 19-foot leap was good enough for fourth. He was healthy enough, however, to run the anchor leg of the sprint relay, which saw Belgrade take a narrow win.
McLeod was the biggest winner on the day, as she cruised to three first-place finishes. The 100 hurdles and long jump were not surprising. The 300 hurdles were, however, as it was McLeod’s first time running the race. Not only did the University of Montana-bound senior win the race over Dillon’s Holly Anderson, who owns the top time in the Class A ranks, she posted the fastest time of the season thus far and qualified for the state meet in her sixth event. Athletes may compete in only five individual events at state, so McLeod has some thinking to do.
McLeod also won the long jump, but needed her last leap in the finals – after she had competed in the grueling 300 hurdles – to take the lead by two inches at 17-5.
“Arie (Grey) keeps running her in different events to see what she can do,” said Butte High assistant coach Heidi Grey, the head coach’s wife. “She’s qualified in everything she’s tried, so now she just has to choose. That’s a nice problem to have.”
Former Butte High head coach and veteran hurdles coach Charlie Merrifield laughed at the suggestion that his advice on technique helped McLeod in any way.
“Good athletes make good coaches,” he quipped.
Butte High distance specialist Joby Rosenleaf won the mile in 5:38.7, and turned in a tough second-place finish in the 3.200. Bailee Hanson scored a fourth-place spot in the 400, while Mariah Richardson was fifth in the 800. The Bulldog girls were tough in the throws as well, as Jessica Buckley took second in the shot with a toss of 34-10 ¾. Afton Ferry was fourth in the discus at 94-3 and McKenzee O’Neill took fifth in the javelin with a stick of 105-4. Kassidy Caprara added points with a sixth place mark in the long jump.
Butte Central’s girls were without an injured Rachel McGree, although Whitney McGree posted a fifth-place finish in the 200 and a sixth-place showing in the 100 to go along with McCurdy’s top javelin throw.
Harrington’s first- and third-place finishes led the Maroon boys, but he had plenty of help from his teammates. Junior throwers Marcus Ferriter and Kaemen Richards showed good distance Saturday, as Ferriter was second in both the shot and disc with marks of 47-0 ½ and 143-2. Richards was fourth in the disc at 135-11.
“Marcus has been consistent in the high 40s in the shot and the 140s in the disc,” Stajcar said. “He’s really getting into a good rhythm.”
Harper’s second-place finish in the long jump was just ahead of Kingston’s third-place mark of 19-2, while Nate McGree was third in the triple jump at 39-3 ½. Connor McGee added long-distance points with a second in the 3,200 and third in the 1,600.
Butte High’s boys had a number of placewinners in the team victory, led by Granger’s solid showing in the jumping pits. Granger’s winning marks were well off his personal best efforts from last season, but were also well ahead of the second-place efforts on Saturday.
“I’m working my way back there,” Granger said of his progression this season. “But it was a good day.”
Tempel, a recent transfer student from Butte Central, cruised to victory in the 800 and was solid in his third-place showing in the mile. Butte also saw a third-place finish in the 3,200 from Nic Raiser. The Bulldogs were well represented in the hurdles with Clay Dean scoring a third in the 300 intermediates and a fourth in the 110 highs. Earles added a third-place finish in the 110s for the ’Dogs.
Harper leapt over 5-11 to claim the high jump for Butte High, while Chad Hicks was second in the pole vault with a clearance of 11-6. Damien Hayden was third in the triple jump, and Connor Lee scored Butte’s only throwing points with a fifth-place toss of 135-6 in the discus.
Butte High had previously competed at the Helena Invitational on this weekend, but with freshmen at a Missoula meet and the Bulldog JV athletes in Butte, a third meet left the team thin, said Butte athletic director Chuck Merrifield.
The move of Butte’s varsity to the Tomich meet also freed up coaches to help with the event – the most visible of which was the timing and scoring system run by Liza Dennehy and Betty Merrifield. It also led to a lot of elbow rubbing between Bulldog and Maroon athletes.
“You know, when they’re on the track it’s all about competing,” Stajcar said. But afterward, they’re all just Butte kids. It’s good to see.”
Stajcar also lauded the partnership with Butte High’s coaches, as well as his own team’s volunteers.
“There was a lot of time and effort from a lot of people that made this meet run so smooth,” he said.