Whitefish’s Coco Wins Three State Titles

By Beacon Staff

Nobody could catch Drew Coco this year. Not back in the fall during cross country, and not in the spring during track.

Over the weekend at the Class A state track meet in Butte, the Whitefish High School senior wrapped up his high school competitive running career with three first-place finishes in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200. In the fall, he dominated every cross-country race he entered, won the state championship and was named the Montana Gatorade Cross Country Runner of the Year.

Despite Coco’s heroics at the state track meet on May 29-30, Whitefish was unable to repeat as boys champion. The Bulldogs finished with 72 points, behind Laurel’s 76 and Corvallis’s 108. Whitefish’s other individual champion besides Coco was Aaron Tkachyk, who won the long jump with a leap of 22 ½ feet.

Coco ran times of 1:58.28 in the 800 meters, 4:33.28 in the 1,600 meters and 10:15.76 in the 3,200 meters.

Bigfork High School junior Kayla Carlson did her best Coco imitation at the Class A meet, but came up just short of claiming the long-distance trifecta. Carlson won the 3,200 with a time of 12:04.08, placed second in the 800 at 2:18.89 and finished third in the 1,600 at 5:22.18. Carlson’s teammate Mallery Knoll, a sprinter and hurdler, finished third in the 100-meter dash and the 300-meter hurdles.

In Class AA, the state meet was held at Legends Stadium, marking the first time in history that the championship meet was held in Kalispell. Though neither Flathead nor Glacier high school pulled out team victories, they each had individual champions and a number of athletes who placed at the meet on May 29-30.

For boys, Flathead finished fifth overall, led by Jesse Bennett’s first-place finish in the 800 meters. Bennett won the race with a time of 1:56.65, a full two seconds ahead of second-place finisher Kaleob Palmer of Butte. He also placed second in the 1,600 at 4:29.98.

Fellow distance runner Leif Castren finished second in the 3,200 at 9:56.25 and third in the 1,500 at 4:31.26.

Multi-talented freshman Tess Brenneman led the Flathead girls, placing in four different events: third in the 100; fourth in the 200; second in the 400 and second in the long jump.

The Glacier High School boys squad, coming off the Western AA divisional championship, finished seventh overall at state. Senior Ben Cutler won the 400 with a time of 48.83 and placed sixth in the 200 at 22.44. Teammate Shane Freese finished second in the high jump after clearing 6 feet 4 inches. The winner, Scotty Owens of Billings senior, cleared 6-6.

The Glacier girls finished sixth, led by two individual state champions and the top 400-meter relay team. Maddey Frey, a junior, pulled ahead of a crowded field to win the 100 meters in 12.8 seconds. Frey was also a member of the winning 400-meter relay team that took the title in 49.18 seconds. The other members were Kayla Smart, Nicole Hall and Rachael Cutler.

Lexy Boschee completed her impressive freshman year with a state championship in the high jump, clearing 5 feet 6 inches to edge Missoula Big Sky’s Lindsey Hall and Butte’s Gwen Abbott, who each jumped 5-5.

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