The Columbia Falls High School track team will be taking a busload of athletes to the state meet in Livingston this weekend after a strong showing at the divisional meet in Butte.
The Wildcats took on tough competition from the western half of the state and also battled the wet and cold weather as the boys came away with a third-place finish while the girls took fourth.
“I’m very happy with what we were able to do in Butte. Our motto was ‘get your butt to state’ and I feel that is what we accomplished,” head coach Jamie Heinz said. “There were some disappointing things that happened, but there were also some great things that happened. We will have a lot of kids competing at state, a lot more than I thought we would when we left for Butte.”
The Wildcats will be taking 17 athletes to the state meet after picking up 26 top-10 finishes in Butte, including two first-place, one second and six third-place finishes.
The 400-meter relay team of Chance Adams, Danny Henjum, Zack Pletcher and Kaedan Clewien earned first with a time of 43.90.
Jaxon Heinz was one of three pole vaulters that cleared 11 feet before the event was canceled due to rainy conditions, earning him a divisional title and a trip to state.
Pole vault was not the only sport affected by the weather as the rainy conditions as slick track conditions caused Henjum to wipe out in the 400 and Flora Jarvis to run into a hurdle in the 100-meter race.
“Rain made the surface pretty much as slippery as a banana. The conditions were not exactly ideal,” Heinz said.
Despite the conditions, a number of Wildcats has season-best performances to qualify for state in a number of events.
Henjum earned second in the 100 and sixth in the 200, Clewien was third in the 100 and seventh in the 200, Drew Morgan was fourth in the 100, third in the 200, third in the 400 and fifth in javelin, Aidan Jarvis took third in 1,600 and eighth in the 3,200 and Pletcher was third in the 110 hurdles and fourth in the 300 hurdles.
Parker Greene earned third in discus while Brad Nieves was 10th in javelin, Jakob Beich was seventh in high jump, Adams was eighth in the long jump and the 100 and Isaac Balla was 10th in triple jump.
Joe Lamb was 10th in the 1,600 and had already qualified for state in the 3,200. Seth Umbriaco was fourth in the 3,200 while Richard Role was ninth.
The 1,600 meter relay team of Adams, Henjum, Morgan and Bailey Sjostrom did not record a time at the meet, but had already qualified for state and pole vaulters DJ Laycock and Russell Albin will also be making the trip to state.
The Wildkats had 22 top-10 finishes at the meet, including three top finishes, three second-place and two third-place finishes.
Lara Erickson earned the top spot in the 3,200 with a personal-best time of 12:16.25 while Angellica Street battled the wet conditions to take first in javelin with a toss of 124 feet, 6.5 inches and Kiera Brown was first in the shot put with a personal-best throw of 36 feet, 11.5 inches.
In the 200, Maddie Robison ran a personal-best of 28 seconds to take eighth. Josie Windauer was second in the 400 while Genevieve Delorme was seventh. Delorme was sixth in the 800 while Erickson was sixth in the 1,600.
Flora Jarvis was fifth in the 300 hurdles with a personal-best time of 49.40 seconds while Robison was third in the long jump and Madysen Hoerner was eighth in the triple jump.
Street was third in the shot put and seventh in discus while Paige Burger was seventh in the javelin and Hoerner was ninth. Stella Bistodeau was ninth in the high jump and Hannah Sempf and Alexis Purcell tied for fifth in pole vault while Rebekah Walker took eighth.
The 1,600 relay team of Green, Delorme, Robison and Windauer took second and the 400 relay team of Green, Robison, Windauer and LaKia Hill took fifth.
Cheyanne Johnston-Heinz will also be headed to state as the alternate for the 400 relay.
With 33 Columbia Falls athletes making the trip to state, coach Heinz is optimistic about his team’s chances at the meet.
“We train trying to get the kids to peak at the state meet. I expect that all of our kids will have their best performances of the year there, if we can get some good weather conditions,” he said.