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Glacier boys, Whitefish girls chase track hardware

by FRITZ NEIGHBOR
Daily Inter Lake | May 25, 2023 11:55 PM

The state track and field championships are this weekend, and the weather is — it’s Memorial Day weekend, remember — not particularly promising.

Such is the case in Butte, where the State AA and B meets will run concurrently.

Glacier’s boys, runner-up a year ago, are threats to trophy again. Flathead’s girls are looking at their strongest showing in a while.

The State A and C meets are set to begin Friday in Laurel; like Butte, rain is a threat Friday and Saturday.

“Whoever can overcome the elements should be in a good spot,” said Glacier boys coach Connor Fuller.

State AA

Fuller sized up the field, with defending champion Missoula Sentinel, Helena Capital and the Bozeman schools, and knows it will be difficult.

“There’s a lot of talent,” he said. “But it should be a really tight race.”

The Wolfpack goes in without injured sprinter Jackson Hensley but has excellent speed besides: Jeff Lillard in the 200 and 400 and Kash Goicoechea in the 100, for starters.

But Gallatin has an excellent 200-400 guy in Nash Coley. Capital has Thomas Carter, and Sentinel’s Hudson Lembke is the defending 100 meters champion.

Like last year the Pack can pick up points in a lot of places. Evan Barnes is a standout in the hurdles and runs on a short relay team that just set the Western AA Divisional record. Aiden Krause has the longest discus throw in AA by 12 feet.

“It’s unfortunate about Hensley, but everybody else is feeling pretty good,” Fuller said. “We’re pretty solid, health-wise.”

The goal is a common one: Run your personal record race this weekend, and make up a place if possible. “If we do those things we should be feeling pretty good about ourselves,” Fuller said.

Flathead’s boys project to score in the mid-teens, and just about all those points would belong to Brody Thornsberry. He’s qualified in the 100, both relays and the long and triple jumps. He has among the top three long jumps in AA, and sits fourth in the triple.

Flathead’s girls have a deep group that starts with high jumper Kennedy Moore and includes sprinter/hurdler Alivia Rinehart, hurdler Zoey Bortz, Lilli Rumsey Eash in the 3,200 and throwers Maddy Moy and Tali Miller. All could go big this weekend.

“We think we might be a little outside of the money,” said coach Kaylee Fox, referring to a top-three finish. “But we have opportunities in some of the running events and throwing events. How everyone does in the weather, you can’t really predict.

“We’re coming off some really good performances, and I think a lot of the team is peaking. Which is what you want this time of the year.”

Kai Johnson is Glacier’s best bet to score, as she holds the top AA mark in the shot put (42-1.25).

State A

The defending state champion Whitefish girls aren’t going anywhere, not with the trio of Brooke Zetooney, Hailey Ells and Rachael Wilmot in the sprints and relays.

Ells, who hasn’t put up an individual time since May 6, is reportedly ready to go. With her in the hurdles and junior Maeve Ingelfinger in the distances, the Bulldogs have the speed to out-point Corvallis, Laurel and distance-rich Hardin.

The Blue Devils, a perennial power, is led by Olivia Lewis in the 400 and hurdles. Laurel has some major throwers in Kaiya Graves, Maggie Hills and Daeja Fike.

Of course Zetooney gives Whitefish an ace in the circle: She owns the third-best shot put in Class A.

Columbia Falls also has major speed, namely Ally Sempf in the sprints and Siri Erickson in the distances. The Wildkats are in the hunt for a state trophy.

Likewise the Columbia Falls boys could push into the top three of a crowded field. Hamilton and Corvallis project as co-favorites; the Wildcats will likely battle Frenchtown and Dillon for a trophy.

The Wildcats are led by speedster Malaki Simpson, a junior with the fastest 200 time in Class A. Adam Schrader should add big points in the 300 hurdles, and the Cats have two very good relays and an excellent discus man in sophomore Lane Voermans.

Area athletes with a chance to top the podium include Libby shot putter Cy Stevenson and Whitefish vaulter Bowdrie Krack.

State B

The Bigfork boys have a solid chance at a state championship in their last season in Class B.

Two-time defending Boulder is among the favorites, and there is plenty of power in the West: Missoula Loyola, with sprinter Tytus Palma, and Florence, with William Wagner in the sprints, figure in there as well.

The Vikings bring in the favorite in the 800 and 1,600: junior Jack Jensen. Add in hurdlers Wyatt Johnson and Isak Epperly plus Levi Peterson in the jumps. and the points could pile up.

Big Timber is the two-time girls champion, and has distance standout Natalie Wood back.

Scout Nadeau is a threat to win the shot put and discus for Bigfork.

Eureka has a top high-jumper in senior Remmi Stenger; the Lions have one of the top boys pole vaulters in the state in Caleb Utter.

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