Track Town Hopes to Bring Back Title

By Beacon Staff

With Flathead High School’s history of success, Kalispell has long been known as a track town.

And now that Glacier High School has risen to the status of Montana’s elite, the town’s reputation is holding firm, though there’s still one thing missing since Kalispell went to the two-high school format in 2007: a state title.

Both Glacier and Flathead have gotten close at state over the past few years, but neither school has produced an overall team championship in girls or boys. They hope to change that this weekend.

The Class AA-B state track meet is held in Butte at Bulldog Memorial Stadium on May 27-28. The state championships for Class A and C are slated for the same days at the Missoula County Public School Stadium in Missoula.

Flathead High School has won a record 18 girls state titles in track and field, nearly doubling Harlowton’s total of 10 in second place. The Bravettes’ most recent was 2005. The boys have won seven, including four straight from 2000-2003.

Last weekend in Kalispell, Glacier won its second Western AA boys divisional title, while Flathead’s boys came in third at the seven-team meet. Glacier scored 134.5 points, comfortably outdistancing second-place Helena Capital with 96.

In girls, Flathead narrowly missed out on the divisional crown, finishing second with 93 points to Helena’s 121. Glacier placed fourth.

Both Glacier and Flathead have a number of athletes competing for individual titles and hoping to score enough points to propel their respective teams to the top of the standings.

Glacier senior Jacob Leininger has emerged as one of the top all-around track athletes in Class AA. At divisionals, Leininger continued his season-long excellence in the hurdling events, winning the 300 in 39.70 seconds and the 110 in 14.83 seconds. He also finished second in the 400 and helped Glacier win the 400 relay.

Another Glacier athlete expected to contend in multiple events at state is senior Shane Freese, who won both the long jump and high jump at divisionals. His leap of 6-8 in the high jump was nine inches better than the second-place leap of 5-11.

Troy Fraley and Richie Boyer could give Glacier points in the distance events. And, proving Glacier’s overall depth and balance, there are several Wolfpack athletes competing for state titles in the field events.

Tanner Morrison won the discus by more than 10 feet at divisionals, continuing his dominance in the event. Glacier also had three throwers in the top six in the javelin, along with state qualifiers in the pole vault and triple jump as well.

Flathead sophomore Zach Perrin is poised to defend his title in the 3,200 meters after posting a divisional-winning time of 9:24.21. It was the fastest time in the state at any level this year.

Perrin barely missed out on a second divisional crown in the 1,600, losing to rival Jake Turner, a senior at Missoula Sentinel, by one-hundredth of a second. Turner finished in 4:17.53 and Perrin finished in 4:17.54. They were the best times posted by anybody in Montana this year.

Flathead will look to several other athletes for points at state, including Connor Thomas, who is defending his state title in the shot put, and John Collins in the 110 and 300 hurdles.

Glacier junior Lexy Boschee is trying to add to her trophy case. Boschee is the two-time defending champion in the high jump and she won the triple jump last year as well. Boschee won the high jump at divisionals and placed second in the long jump and triple jump. She is also expected to contend in the 100-meter hurdles.

Another multi-event star for Glacier is senior Heather Fraley, who finished in the top three in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 and divisionals. Among the other athletes who could place at state is Leah Cook, who has been one of Class AA’s top triple jumpers.

Similar to Boschee, junior Tess Brenneman of Flathead High School is a threat in various events. She won the state long jump last year and is in good shape to defend her crown after winning at divisionals with a leap of 17-11 1/2.

Brenneman also placed in the top three in four other events at divisionals: 100 meters, 200 meters, 400 meters and the 300-meter hurdles.

Flathead’s Kwyn Johnson won the triple jump at 36-9 1/4, which is the farthest in Class AA this season. She also placed in the top five in the 100-meter hurdles and long jump. Paige Bouma placed in the top five in both the 1,600 and 3,200.

In Class A, Columbia Falls won its second straight Northwestern A boys divisional championship, led by Derrick Williams, who won all three distance events.

Whitefish took the girls title, thanks to a remarkable performance by freshman Marlow Schulz, who took first place in four events: 100 meters, 200 meters, 400 meters and 800 meters.

Bigfork won the Western B girls divisional crown, led by senior Mallery Knoll’s victory in the 100 meters and runner-up finishes in the 100 and 300 hurdles. Knoll also ran on Bigfork’s winning relay teams in the 400 and 1,600 meters.

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