With enrollment numbers that would put them near the bottom — size-wise — of the Class B ranks, Butte Central has managed to be very competitive in the Class A ranks for years. The Maroons consistently show strength in quality vs. quantity.
Butte Central’s track team will pick up where other successful Maroon teams have left off this year, putting a group of talented athletes in the mix for a run at Class A track and field titles this spring.
What makes this year any different? Add quantity to the quality. Butte Central head track coach Zack Stajcar has 25 boys and 11 girls with an excellent mix of abilities coming into the 2015 season, which opens Saturday in Corvallis.
“We’ll get a lot of boys who have been practicing hard all year,” Stajcar said of the athletes who made up top football and basketball teams. “They’re in the right mindset to be competitive. The girls have done well too, but a lot of them are playing softball.”
That doesn’t mean the Maroon girls are hindered on the track.
Central goes to the McGree well for a trio of girls who will help the Maroons through the season in a number of events. Rachael McGree is back in the jumps and hurdles, while Whitney McGree returns to the sprint lanes. Lacey McGree will showcase abilities in the triple jump and shot put.
Junior thrower Aidan Dennehy is in just her first year out for the team, but showed promise with the turbo jav in middle school, and should figure in the disc and shot rings as well. Kiana Blythe and Caleigh Mullaney are sophomore throwers, while Kaylee O’Herron has stepped up in the high jump and the javelin. Olivia Bolton is working the jumping events and should figure into the relay races. Abby McGee and Kailee Murphy round out the squad and will look for events to fit their abilities.
“We’ve got a few more numbers-wise than we have in the past,” Stajcar said. “And we’ve got girls in the right places where we have the potential to score some points.”
The Maroon boys bring back a number of State competitors from last season, including seniors Marcus Ferriter and Kaemen Richards who excelled in the shot and discus rings. Danny Peoples with be back in the javelin after a successful run last season, while senior Conor McGee will get his last long-distance season as a Maroon. Junior Kyle Harrington is also back in the sprints after a run at state last season.
Central will also see the return of junior Cole Harper in the long jump. Last season he qualified for state in the event, but suffered a season-ending injury. Nate McGree, who made state in the long jump last season as a freshman, will be back there and in the triple jump pits as well.
Kyle Schulte was just getting the hang of the shot and disc at the end of last season, Stajcar said, and the junior is back ahead of where he left off.
“We’ve got a lot of sophomores (eight) and freshmen (six),” Stajcar said. “The meet in Corvallis will be a good place for them to get an idea what they want to do.
“We’ve got a good mix of kids, and as long as we keep working hard at practice we should be OK,” he said. “That, and we have to keep them healthy. We have to stay away from the bangs and bruises and we’ll be competitive.
Butte High’s track and field teams begin their season Tuesday in Billings with a triangular meet against Senior and West.