Hamilton coach John Stromberg has seen the projections at MontanaTrack.com, and he’s conflicted.
It’s nice to be the favorite for the State A boys’ track and field championship, but he knows the Broncs’ first title since 1959 won’t be won on paper.
“We’ve got to go do what we’re capable of doing,” Stromberg said this week. “It’s one of those things — we have to just go out and do what we need to do.
“Sure makes a guy nervous, though, reading that stuff.”
It’s one of many subplots for the State A, which begins Friday and ends Saturday at Bulldog Memorial Stadium in Butte.
The Corvallis girls are prohibitive favorites for a fourth straight title – something only Belgrade’s girls have done in Class A, from 2006-09 – and that meet could feature as many as six showdowns (counting relays) between the Blue Devils’ Sadi Henderson and Marlow Schulz of Whitefish.
Hamilton’s boys, meanwhile, figure to outdistance Corvallis and Whitefish for the program’s first title in 55 springs. We mean this in a literal sense: The Broncs’ fortunes are based on a group that won the State A cross country meet last fall.
Distance men Karill Apedaile, Anthony Schmalz, Cameron Meikle and Easton Albert should provide a ton of points, with Apedaile the favorite in the 800 and Schmalz favored to sweep the 1,600 and 3,200.
The Broncs also have Abe Westfall in the sprints and jumps – he won the triple jump last year at state – as well as Cameron Kohn in the jumps, Zach Brown in the discus and two solid relay teams.
All of which makes Stromberg wary.
“Corvallis is going to be sneaky good,” he said. “They’re right there. And you have Whitefish, and Dawson County (Glendive) is right in there, too.”
If Hamilton runs away with it, Whitefish and Corvallis should battle for second and third, and it might come down to the javelin competition between the Bulldogs’ Luke May and Tyler Olson of Corvallis.
Jesse Sims came on at divisionals to give Corvallis a lift in the discus and shot put, and the Blue Devils can expect big points from sprinter/ hurdler Taylor Sylvester. Hurdler Keaton Grove and sprinter/jumper Sean Foley will keep defending champion Whitefish in the trophy hunt.
The Whitefish girls figure to be best of the rest on their side of the meet. Corvallis scored 185 points last year while winning its third girls’ title, and could come within a couple javelin throws from Katie Landis and Kayla Lewis of that total.
The Blue Devils saw state champion distance runner Ayden Eickhoff move overseas and still have the favorite in the 1,600 and 3,200: Isabella Pape.
Jane Booth is going for her second straight high jump title; Katelyn Frost is a solid favorite in the pole vault. In short, there are points upon points.
“We have a lot of kids that can make some noise,” Corvallis coach Spencer Huls said.
One of the leaders is Henderson, though she has but one individual gold in her career: The 400 when she was a freshman.
Schulz, the Whitefish burner, has a lot to do with that. Both seniors ran blistering times last week, in separate divisional meets.
“It’s almost unfortunate they’re in the same year,” said Huls. “It should be pretty good. Sadi had a great weekend, last weekend. She’s really ready. Marlow’s Marlow, but it should be a heck of a battle.”
Huls said Henderson planned to run the 800 against Schulz, though Marlow’s dad Derek – the Whitefish coach – wasn’t so sure that matchup would happen. Marlow Schulz is chasing the rare feat of four straight 100 meters championships, something only two other Montana girls have achieved.
The meet schedule has the A girls’ 100 final on at 1:45 p.m. Saturday – about 90 minutes after the 800.
“It’s kind of a game-time decision,” Derek Schulz said. “We’re definitely not ruling it out. I think a lot of it will come down to how she feels.”
On the pro side, Whitefish could use the points to fend off the likes of Belgrade, Dillon and Sidney.
“I don’t think anybody is going to catch Corvallis,” said Schulz. “But we would like to be in there, in the top three.”
For the Blue Devils, the goal remains the same: A state title. Like Stromberg, Huls is cautiously optimistic.
“I hate being this No. 1, big-time favorite because you have that target on your back,” he said. “But the kids have always handled it well, and hopefully they’ll continue to.”
15 Maroons compete at home
The 2014 track season has been a solid one for the Butte Central Maroons.
Friday and Saturday, the Maroons will get the chance to put a cap on that campaign in front of their home crowd when Bulldog Memorial Stadium plays host to the Class A and Class B State meets.
Field events begin at 9 a.m. Friday. Races kick off at 10:30. Schedule
BC coach Zack Stajcar said he’s hoping staying at home for state will be an edge for the 15 Maroons who qualified for the meet.
“It will be nice to be able to run on the same track we do every day,” Stajcar said. “We get to sleep in our own beds, get some rest and be ready to go.”
Butte Central’s competitors all seem to be peaking at the right time, with freshman Rachael McGree and sophomore Kyle Harrington winning divisional titles last weekend in Dillon.
McGree leaped just under 17 feet to win the long jump to take home the Southwestern A Divisional crown.
“She works so hard at all of her events,” Stajcar said. “It’s kind of nice to see that hard work paying off.”
Rachael McGree, one of five members of the extended McGree family competing for the Maroons, qualified for state in six events. She will also run 100-meters, the 100- and 300-meter hurdles and both relay races.
Sophomore Whitney McGree will compete in the 100 and both relay races, freshman Abby McGee will run the 800 and both relays, while Chandra McCurdy will throw the javelin.
Also for the BC girls, sophomore Lacey McGree will run a leg in the 400-meter relay, while Rachel Banks will be part of the 1,600-meter relay.
McCurdy, one of four BC seniors to make state (Banks, Connor McGree and Wyatt Kingston are the others), is coming off a second-place showing with a 121 foot, 6 inch throw in the javelin.
Stajcar said McCurdy is a contender to medal if she has a strong showing again this weekend.
Harrington is coming off his divisional title in the 100-meter race. His seed time of 11.26 seconds is second to only Dillon star Mick Paffhausen, a future Montana Tech football player.
“He’s sitting right at the top of the line for the 100,” Stajcar said of Harrington, who the coach added seems to get faster each meet.
Harrington will also run the 200 while running a leg in each relay.
Junior Kaemen Richards, who the coach said gets bigger each week thanks to his work in the weight room, enters the discus and shot put after a pair of second-place showings at the divisional.
Classmate Marcus Ferriter will also compete in those throwing events. He placed third in the discus and fourth in the shot put last week.
Freshman Nate McGree will long jump for the Maroons, and junior Danny Peoples is a competitor in the javelin.
The long relay include Harrington, Connor McGree, junior Conor McGee and freshman Blake Burton. Kingston, Connor McGree, Burton and Kingston will make up the short relay team.
Stajcar pointed out that the original relay teams featured Cole Harper, who suffered a season-ending hip injury four weeks ago to the Tomich Invitational. The sophomore was also on track to compete in the long jump at state.
Stajcar said the team has been getting better each week since it had to reset following the key loss.
“At least the timing of the injury is good,” Stajcar said of Harper. “He’s only a sophomore so he has time to come back.”
The coach said the state meet is coming at the right time for the Maroons.
“We had a pretty good season, and we had a pretty good divisional,” Stajcar said. “We qualified 15 kids. That’s pretty good.”
Whitefish comes to town as the defending champion in the Class A boys’ meet. Manhattan’s boys won the Class B meet a year ago.
Corvallis (Class A) and Plains (B) are the defending champs on the girls’ side.
West teams may still be the best
BUTTE – For nearly a decade of State A track competitions, the power has been in the West.
And there’s no end in sight.
Teams from Hamilton and Corvallis figure to set the boys’ pace this weekend during A portion of the State A-B track meet here at Bulldog Stadium.
Defending champion Whitefish, another school located west of the Continental Divide, should also be in the hunt for top honors as the competition gets underway this morning.
The girls’ team race is led by Corvallis, which is favored to make it four consecutive state titles. The Whitefish girls could also contend, along with teams from Belgrade and Dillon.
The Lewistown boys figure to make some noise, thanks mostly to junior Brock Butcher. He won the 100, 200, 400 and long jump at last week’s Central A Divisional.
Lewistown’s James Derheim (110 hurdles), Ryan McKinney (1600), Haiden Collins (300 hurdles) and Collin Hartford (javelin) may also score some points.
Havre also has some point potential in pole vaulters Thomas Gruber and Gunnar Aageson, sprinter-jumper Nate Rismon, and sprinter-hurdler Mike Loftus.
Browning has a few standout performers as well, including all-around sports star Emmette DustyBull (800, 1600), hurdler Joseph Bremner and distance runner Brady Stone.
The Havre girls’ team is led by veteran performers Martha Stocker (shot put, discus), Lacey Waid (pole vault) and Peyton Filius (800).
Lewistown also has several girls to watch, including distance stars Delainy Tedesco and Madison Rogers, and jumpers Mikaela Olson and Jaree Mane.
Among the top boys’ athletes in the meet are Jesse Sims and Taylor Sylvester of Corvallis, Karill Apendaile and Anthony Schmalz of Hamilton, and Jonathan Eastwood of Belgrade.
The girls’ field is paced by Sadi Henderson of Corvallis, Marlow Schulz of Whitefish, and Holly Anderson of Dillon.
Polson and Corvallis have combined to win five of the last six State A girls’ team titles. The last time a team from east of the Rocky Mountains won the boys’ A championship was 2005, when Colstrip prevailed.