It’s still early in the track season, but it’s already clear that Flathead County is going to have a long list of contenders when the divisional and state meets roll around in late May.
The usual suspects have not let down, such as Flathead junior Tess Brenneman, Glacier junior Lexy Boschee, Whitefish senior Jessica Sagen, Columbia Falls junior Derrick Williams and Bigfork senior Mallery Knoll, to name a few. Each of these perennial standouts has won at least one event at a meet this year.
Brenneman, the defending Class AA long jump champion, has already surpassed her state-winning 17-foot-6 ½ inch leap from last year. At the Missoula Invitational, Brenneman’s best jump measured 17-6 ¾, the farthest in the state so far. Brenneman has also picked up wins in the 200- and 400-meter races.
Boschee, the defending champion in both the high jump and triple jump, appears poised to defend her titles in those events, and possibly add new titles to her resume. At the Class A Invite, Boschee won first place in the long jump, 100-meter hurdles and triple jump.
Sagen, who will run at Stanford University next year, has claimed victories in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 at different invitationals.
Williams placed second in both the 800 and 1,600 meters at the Class A state meet last year. This spring he has posted wins in both of those events, along with the 3,200. His times in all three events are among the best in the state.
Knoll is hoping to chase down Cut Bank’s Deni Fitzpatrick, who nipped her at the Class B state meet last spring in both hurdle events. Knoll finished second to Fitzpatrick in the 300- and 100-meter hurdles by a small margin. Knoll beat Fitzpatrick at the Bigfork Invitational in the 300 hurdles with a time of 47.53 to Fitzpatrick’s 48.21.
Connor Thomas, a senior at Flathead, is off to a good start in defending his Class AA shot put crown. Thomas has claimed the top spot at individual meets this season and has one of the longest throws in the state at 53-11.
At the Class A Invite, on the same day Boschee won her three events, Flathead’s Michael Managhan pulled off a trifecta of his own by sweeping the sprinting events. Managhan won the 100, 200 and 400.
Glacier High School’s Shane Freese is once again one of the top high jumpers in Montana, as he proved by winning the Missoula Invitational with a jump of 6-4. At that same meet, teammate Jacob Leininger won most outstanding athlete by sweeping the hurdle events and helping Glacier earn second in the 400 relay.
Other local athletes who have earned top finishes at invitational meets this year for boys include Glacier’s Tanner Morrison in the discus; Flathead’s Zach Perrin in the 3,200; Whitefish’s Gage Vasquez in the 800; Glacier’s Jake Tudahl in the javelin; Glacier’s Troy Fraley in the 800; Glacier’s Richie Boyer in the 1,600; Flathead’s Dylon Creek in the pole vault; Glacier’s Kyle Griffith in the triple jump; Flathead’s Tanner Thiel in the javelin; Columbia Falls’ Anthony Correa in the 100 and 200; Whitefish’s Drew Galbraith in the 110 hurdles; and Columbia Falls’ Billy Gross in the 400.
Local girls who have won first place include Flathead’s Kwyn Johnson in the triple jump; Whitefish’s Marlow Schulz in the 400; Columbia Falls’ Jessie Gist in the pole vault; Glacier’s Rachel Hart in the 800; Glacier’s Heather Fraley in the 1,600; Flathead’s Briana Patyk in the high jump; Flathead’s Kelsey Davis in the shot put; Glacier’s MaKenna Siebenaler in the pole vault; Whitefish’s Shelby Backer in the javelin; Flathead’s Cera Lau in the discus; and Bigfork’s Quinci Paine in the 200.
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