Friday, June 21, 2024

Columbia Falls' Malaki Simpson aims for State A sprint titles

Staff Writer | May 2, 2024 12:00 AM

Columbia Falls sprinter Malaki Simpson knows this is his year to become a state champion.

In his three prior appearances at the state meet in Laurel (2021, 2023) and Butte (2022) Simpson hasn't claimed any individual titles. 

Another trip to Laurel awaits Simpson, who is prequalified in the 100 and 200, as well as with the 400-meter relay team he anchors.

Simpson currently sits with the fastest time in Class A and fourth-fastest in the state for the 100 at 10.85 seconds, and second in Class A for the 200 at 22.05 — just .04 off of the fastest time set by Glendive’s Kohbe Smith. The Wildcats’ relay is tied with Laurel for the fastest time in Class A this spring at 43.45 — set at the Cat/Dog/Viking triangular on April 30.

As a junior he finished second in the finals of both the 100 meter and 200 meter dashes.

“I think it has pushed me to try harder and to hopefully bring home the win in both events,” Simpson said.

Columbia Falls track coach Jamie Heinz notes that Simpson gained confidence after coming up short last season.

“He isn't hoping anymore, he knows that he can win,” Heinz said.

That confidence continues to grow each time Simpson takes to the track, especially when he takes on kids from AA schools.

“Those AA boys pushing him definitely just drives him,” Heinz said. “He knows that if he can compete with them, he can compete with anyone.”

Simpson gets another opportunity to compete with some AA competition on Saturday at the Archie Roe Invitational at Legends Stadium.

The senior thanks his coaches for getting him to where he is at now.

“I’d say a lot of it has to do with my sprint coach, he has pushed me a lot on and off the season,” Simpson said. “As well as my head coach, he encourages me a lot to do good and step up, even as a freshman and sophomore I have had the role of stepping up and doing more than some other people.”

“I have a ton of respect for him, because he works so hard to accomplish what he wants to do,” Heinz said. 

Simpson uses his experience to prepare both himself and his teammates for the big stage at the state meet.

“It helps in getting experience and understanding how a state track meet works,” Simpson said. “Understanding that having a two-day or even a three-day meet can have a toll on the body.”

In a sport filled with individual performances, Simpson notes that the team aspect plays a major role.

“We work together a lot in practice, that is something that a lot of people don’t see,” Simpson says. “We always encourage each other, we are always trying each other's events. “Understanding that a different event is catered to a whole different body and you respect your teammates for succeeding in those events. It means a lot and it can bring a team together.”

Simpson specifically pointed out that he and his relay teammates — Kai Golan, Jack Phelps and Adler Waters — push each other to be the best that they can possibly be.

“Those are three guys that never back down from a challenge,” Simpson said. “I think that is what is really going to get us to state.”

Simpson and Golan ran on the 400-meter relay team that took the win last year’s State A meet.

“They are best friends, always hanging out together,” Heinz said. “Being there supporting each other through the ups and downs, they pride and relish in the opportunity.”