The 16th annual Russ Pilcher/Western Montana Top 10 track and field meet should be a lot like the 15th: highlight-filled and fast.
The weather that plagued parts of Montana last week is supposed to break Tuesday, so the 300 or so athletes crowded onto the track at Missoula County Stadium could have optimal spring weather: Sunny, calm and 58 degrees when things get going at 3:30 p.m.
While that’s no guarantee that records will fall left and right – six were set at last year’s meet – there will plenty of must-see events.
Standing out the most is the girls’ 800, where Bigfork’s Makena Morley, Whitefish’s Marlow Schulz and Sadi Henderson of Corvallis are scheduled to run. All three have run 2 minutes, 17 seconds or lower, with Henderson’s 2:15.1 from Friday night’s Corvallis Twilight meet leading the way.
Henderson and Schulz are also slated to square off in the 100. Schulz won it last year, and the event features six girls – including Hellgate’s Kenzie Wingard, Ana Jarrett, Hannah Porch of Big Sky and Helena’s Calllie Kanthack – who have run it in under 13 seconds.
Returning champions dot several events, including Plains’ Hailey Phillips in the 300 hurdles, Stevensville’s Kataie Malachinski in the high jump and Kanthack in the 200.
The meet could also signal the full-strength return of Big Sky’s Alex Mustard, who swept the boys’ 100 and 200 at this meet a year ago. Mustard ran the trials in each race Saturday in Great Falls; the senior has been working back from an off-season appendectomy.
He’ll be dealing with some fast company, including Dalton Daum. The Butte flash has Montana’s fastest times in both the 100 and 200.
Helena Capital’s Kyle Nickol is back to defend his 400 title, just as Missoula Hellgate’s Chris Herrick is a favorite to repeat in the 3,200.
Missoula is well-represented. Hellgate’s Colin Dolese won the 300 hurdles last year, Sentinel’s Kyle Douglass will defend his discus crown and Big Sky’s Cole Hayes is back in the high jump.
Both hurdles races could provide highlights. Big Sky’s Chris Lange, Dillon’s Mick Paffhausen and Loyola Sacred Heart’s Silas Hasselbrook top the 110s, while Dolese and Lange have both gone under 39 seconds in the 300s.