Final Lap for Senior Track Champs

By Beacon Staff

WHITEFISH – When Courtney Ferda took her track skills to the University of Montana last year, she left behind more than her legacy to inspire the Whitefish High School track and field team.

She left her cousin, Ashley, too.

Ashley and Courtney Ferda will be reunited when Ashley goes to UM to play basketball next year. But until then, Ashley looks to repeat as the state champion in the 100-meter high hurdles. She also placed third in the javelin at state last year.

Along with Ferda, long jumper Hailey Farmin and distance runner Loni Hanson should also contend for state titles this season for Whitefish. Hanson, a sophomore, won the state championship in cross-country in the fall. Her success, and the success of other cross-country runners, is encouraging for coach Derek Schulz. The girls won state and the boys finished third in cross-country.

“A lot of that helps us – it carries over,” Schulz said.

Pole vault coach Rob Carter, right, watches the technique of Kaleb Prestegaard during Whitefish High School track practice. The pole vault was moved inside due to the weather.

On the boys side, two juniors are expected to shine in the jumping events. Colt Idol, Whitefish’s all-state basketball standout, hopes to improve on last year’s third-place finish at state in the high jump. Idol cleared 6 feet 4 inches, but was within what Schulz calls “an eyelash” of achieving 6 feet 6 inches, the winning height.

Aaron Tkachyk finished fourth at state last year in the long jump with a jump of 20 feet 8 inches, a remarkable feat for a sophomore, Schulz said. A jump over 21 feet could put him in contention for the top spot in the state this year. Also, Drew Coco figures to be competitive in the distance events after finishing fifth in the state in cross-country last fall.

Last year the girls finished second at state behind Belgrade and the boys finished sixth. Whitefish has 100 students out for track, Schulz said, an impressive turnout for a school with about 700 students total.

In Bigfork, the fastest kid in the state returns for his senior year with hopes of a repeat state championship in the 100-meter dash. Andrew Whittaker crossed the finish line at last year’s state championships with a time of 11.26 seconds, good enough for first place.

Not far behind Whittaker at state was another Northwest Montana junior, Scott Palmer of Columbia Falls. Palmer finished third in the 100 meters with a time of 11.36. Palmer also finished third in the 200 meters, clocking in at 23.14 seconds. He will be a threat to win the top spot in both events this year.

Seth Wiley practices hurdles between snow showers during track practice at Whitefish High School.

As a team Columbia Falls finished fourth at state last season, though the Wildcats lost a few key athletes, including the state champion in the high jump, Bobby Peirce.

Flathead High School, a perennial track and field powerhouse, lost a couple of key seniors last year with the departure of Seth Grossman and Dan Ogden. Grossman won the state championships in both the 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs. Ogden finished first in the discus and in the top four in the javelin and shot put. But, as always, the Braves should be competitive across the board, especially in the long distance running events.

Seth Svennungsen capped off a stellar cross-country season for the Braves with a second-place finish at state in the fall. He’ll look to bring his long distance skills to the 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs this spring.

For Glacier High School, junior Emilee Hashley will be shooting for a state championship in the shot put, following an impressive third-place finish last year as a sophomore. Hashley should also be competitive in the discus. As with other sports at the school, the Wolfpack’s track team will be loaded with freshmen and sophomores.

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