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April 3, 2014
Northwest Montana A Conference




Ty Mogan of Laurel reacts after winning the 1,600 meters at the 2013 State A track meet. 

Central Rams

Coach: Angela Hirt, 8th season

Last year at state: 2nd place A (69 points)

Returning state placers (2): Sean Ward, Sr., javelin-1st; Holden Ryan, Jr., 200-6th.

Others to watch: Michael Gulledge, Jr., middle distance; Alex Fitzgerald, Sr., sprints; Jesse Byorth, Jr., javelin.

Season outlook: The Rams placed second at each of the past two state meets, and took third the year before that. Javelin champion Sean Ward returns, but among the graduated were Dylan Hanser, who won the high jump title, and George Smith, who took second in the 300 hurdles. In all, the team said goodbye to 58 team points from state.

Coach Hirt says: “We’re young this year. We graduated all of our state placers except for Holden and Sean. But we’ve got lots of interested kids, and some kids that have been around. It’ll be challenging to end the season where we ended it last year.”

Laurel Locomotives

Coach: Dan Gatley, 3rd season

Last year at state: 4th place A (51½ points)

Returning state placers (2): Ty Mogan, Jr., 1,600-1st, 3,200-1st; Quinton Holmlund, Sr., discus-6th.

Others to watch: Brandon Kubitz, Jr., sprints, jumps; Brandon Kanta, Sr., distance; Garrett Schneider, Jr., distance; Layton Jackson, Sr., middle distance, distance; Zac Allen, Jr., hurdles; Ty Ward, Sr., hurdles, javelin; Michael Buster, Jr., sprints.

Season outlook: Mogan won both distance events at state last year and will be called on to score big points again. The team is looking to Kubitz to make an impact in the sprints. He and Layton Jackson were members of Laurel’s title-winning 1,600-meter relay team last season. Holmlund leads a group of throwers that expects to improve.

Coach Gatley says: “It’s a good group. We’re awfully excited. We’re also pretty young. We’ve got some juniors at some important spots. We can be right up there in the mix if some of these kids can perform the way we think they can.”

-- Compiled by Greg Rachac, Gazette Staff


Central's Ward chases more javelin hardware


Billings Central’s Sean Ward wins the javelin at State A track in Laurel in 2013.

Winning the State A javelin title last spring was a huge moment for Billings Central’s Sean Ward. His focus now is on defending it.

Ward overcame strong competition — and the anxiety resulting from a recovering knee injury — to win the championship on his final attempt at state. The javelin flew 175 feet, 11 inches, nearly a foot farther than the top throw of Ty Morgan from Columbia Falls.

It was by far Ward’s longest heave of the season. By nearly 16 feet.

“I surprised myself,” Ward said. “A few times throwing at state my rhythm was off. I was taking too many steps. I wondered how the mentality of my knee (injury) would affect me, but I just told myself on that last throw to give it my all.

“That last throw is the one that won it. It didn’t look very good to me but when I saw the distance I was excited.”

Ward tore ligaments in his right knee during the 2012 football season in a game in Powell, Wyo. By the time the track and field season rolled around six months later, Ward still wasn’t allowed to take a conventional running start to his throws. It was basically all arm.

He qualified for state on a three-step approach during a meet in Lewistown. It wasn’t until the state meet that he was finally cleared by doctors to utilize his usual 10- or 15-step approach on the runway.

“He was really limited,” said Central throwing coach Lyle Seavy. “He didn’t have much time to work on his footwork. But everything came together.

“Sean is strong. He has a natural release. He’s got a natural, aggressive approach to the toe board. He gets a really nice plant, and just gets his whole body into it. I have a really good feeling about his potential this year.”

Ward expects to again battle Columbia Falls’ Morgan for the Class A javelin crown this spring. But the Central senior is just now getting over a torn labrum in his right shoulder, an injury he suffered during this past football season.

Ward began throwing again last week. He says he’s getting back into the groove.

“The doctor says (the shoulder) is very stable. But he wants me to go slow, just to be cautious. I did some throwing to see how it felt. I got in about 10 throws. The shoulder is feeling great.”

Ward said he will sit out the first few meets of this season. But come the end of May?

“Really, the only person I feel like has the potential to compete with me is Ty Morgan from C-Falls,” Ward said. “He’s a pretty small guy but his technique is really good. I think it’s going to be between me and him.

“It’d be nice to win state again, but I’m going to think of it as a whole new season and make small goals to reach. And hopefully I can reach the state title again.”


Central Rams

Coach: Angela Hirt, 10th season

Last year at state: 6th place A (24½ points)

Returning state placers (1): Jade Smith, So., high jump-6th.

Others to watch: Mariah Wittman, So., sprints, jumps; Morgan McDonnell, Sr., distance; Alexa Horrell, Jr., distance; Olivia Hanser, Fr., sprints, jumps.

Season outlook: Coach Angela Hirt likes her array of distance runners, led by Morgan McDonnell and Alexa Horrell. Both finished in the top 10 at the state cross country meet in the fall. Mariah Wittman showed promise in the 100 and 200 meters as a freshman last year. Wittman’s sprint times should improve in her second varsity season.

Coach Hirt says: “We have a strong group of distance girls. Our cross country team placed third (in the fall) and most of those girls are out. They like to run and they like to compete, and they’re doing well.”

Laurel Locomotives

Coach: Lisa Condon, 14th season

Last year at state: 7th place A (19 points)

Returning state placers: None.

Others to watch: Abbie Lohof, So., jumps, throws; Dalayna Christenson, Sr., throws; Lexi Gradwohl, Jr., distance, pole vault; Courtney Hallock, So., distance; Madi Tucker, So., middle distance; Kyra Elmjer, Jr., sprints; Jessica Elmer, Fr., sprints; Taylor Ludwig, Fr., sprints, jumps; Shae Wiggins, So., distance; Allie McGrath, Jr., jumps, throws; Demi Albrecht, Jr., sprints, jumps; McKenzie LaCasse, Jr., sprints, jumps; Kayla O’Toole, Jr., throws; Angie Berglee, Sr., throws; Rita Stevenson, Sr., sprints.

Season outlook: The Locomotives don’t have anyone returning who placed at state, but they have 45 girls out, the most under coach Lisa Condon. Kyra and Jessica Elmer are transfers from California and could provide a boost in the sprints. Abbie Lohof and Taylor Ludwig are talented underclassmen looking to make an impact.

Coach Condon says: “We have some experience but for the most part we’re rebuilding. I’m excited to have some girls who’ve had success in other sports. That excites me because they’re really athletic.”

-- Compiled by Greg Rachac, Gazette Staff


Track and field team anxious for warm weather


Posted: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 8:15 pm

Sidney track and field members did get a few days of nice weather where the team practiced outside, but recent snowfall and cold temperatures have had the team resort to indoor practices which aren’t the most ideal conditions for the athletes.

“We’re just waiting for warm weather. It’s been a long winter,” Sidney head coach Steve O’Toole said.

Despite winter-weather woes, the team is eager to get the season going.

“We always hope to do well in eastern Montana and in our division,” O’Toole said. “We hope to do well in the state, too.”

This year, the Sidney program features a significant amount of boys, about 35, while numbers for the girls are a bit lower with about 15 athletes coming out for track and field.

Last year, Sidney’s girls placed second in the Eastern A division before earning second at the state track meet in Laurel. Power-house Corvallis earned the first-place title for the girls, and this year won’t be much different for the western team. “They’re good, again,” O’Toole said. Corvallis ran away with the girls Class A title last year with 185.5 points. Sidney earned second with 60.5 points.

The Sidney team returns two state placers in Erin Harris and Lexi Prevost. Harris placed fourth in the javelin (128-03) and second in the pole vault (10-0). Prevost placed third in the 100-meter hurdles (15.94), fourth in the long hurdles (46.78) and fifth in the pole vault (9-06). “Both those girls will do well,” O’Toole said.

Sidney will be without some talented seniors from last season including Whitney Leuenberger, who was a two-time state champion in the discus and shot put. But senior Daryn Wolff is a promising throwing athlete who should perform well for the Eagles. Wolff was a state qualifier last season, competing in the shot put and discus. She finished 12th in the discus (96-04) and 15th in the shot put (32-07).

Other senior girls returning for Sidney include Aubrey Kessel who placed seventh in the pole vault (9-06) and Sheridan Sundheim who placed 12th in the high jump (4-08) and 16th in the triple jump (31-08.50).

Other girl prospects include long-distance runners in Tess Ler and Trista Papka.

Helping out coaching for long-distance runners is cross country coach Jay Borseth.

The boys’ numbers are high for Sidney, and a younger class of athletes look to be promising not just this season but a few years to come.

“We have good freshman and sophomore classes,” O’Toole said about the young boys coming out this season.

“I think in the future, the boys are going to be pretty good. The girls have been good. They should do well again. We’re a little thin number wise, but we should have some high placers.”

Senior boys featured on the team include Caleb Benson, a returner, as well as first-year member Colin Moran. “I think they’ll do well.”

Benson qualified for the state meet last season. He competed in the 300-meter hurdles where he finished ninth (42.21).

Other state qualifiers returning for Sidney’s boys include Logan Thiel, who competed in the pole vault where he placed ninth (12-06).

“Our numbers are low a little bit, but I think we should do well in the division and in state,” O’Toole said.

O’Toole said Tyler Quilling, a junior, looks to aid as a jumper and Brady Bell will contribute as a pole vaulter. Hunter Severson, a senior, will be a valuable thrower for Sidney, and younger prospects, like freshman Trace Jones, will add to the running program.

Coaches for Sidney include Steve Yockim, Roger Merritt, Stacey Collins and Virginia Dschaak.

As of Monday, the team’s first meet is Saturday in Colstrip, with weather permitting.

“We’ll be ready to go Saturday. We need a meet,” O’Toole said.

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