This is a Runner’s World

Young Flathead Valley runners posting impressive times

By Jeff Epperly

This is a runner’s world, especially if you are from the Flathead Valley. One thing that has been consistent for a very long time is the continuing excellence of young runners from our local schools. And now it seems the current batch is taking this competitive greatness to a whole new level.

It would take way too long to recount the number of great runners over the last 30 years. In fact, it would take too long to even recount the number from the last five years. So let’s cut it down a bit and talk about what has happened recently. These mentions will be “radar” mentions; those who have hit the national scene just in the month of June.

First of all, there is Jake Perrin of Flathead High School (and Gonzaga next fall). He has simply been amazing. He believes that he can be the best and he conducts himself that way and now he is putting up numbers that reinforce that belief almost every time he hits the track. Recently, he ran an 8:58.09 two-mile in the Brooks PR Invitational in Renton, Washington. His time was the fastest time ever ran by a high school runner from Montana. This is after he set all-time state records in the 1600-meter race (4:12.06) and 3200-meter race (9:04.35) at the end of May in the state track meet. Without question, he is the greatest boys high school runner ever in the state of Montana. By the way, he was recently awarded the Gatorade Track Athlete of the Year.

Then there is Annie Hill. Only a sophomore at Glacier High School, she is another remarkable runner who has the mind and heart of a champion. This young athlete has courage as well as guts. Plus, she is a learner, constantly learning what it takes to be the very best and employing what she learns in races that ultimately makes her better. She has won two big races in the month of June. First, she won the mile at the Brooks PR Invitational by running a 4:41.52 mile, the second fastest time ever by a Montana High School girl. Then she ran in front of 21,000 spectators at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field where the Olympic Track Trials were taking place. This special invitation only field included 10 of the best young runners in the country. Annie won the event with a time of 4.44.16.

With these great young runners there is always the chance that someday they might have the opportunity to be on the biggest stage of all, the Olympic stage (maybe Toyko Japan 2020). With that in mind, I need to mention a runner from Billings Senior High School who had a shot at qualifying for this year’s Olympics in Rio. Her name is Christina Aragon. On June 11 at the Portland Track Festival, she qualified for the Olympic trials with a time of 4:09.27 in the 1500 meters. Her time, of course, is the fastest time ever recorded by a Montana High School girl. She also holds the fastest time ever run by a Montana girl in the mile (4:37.91), recording that mark last summer in the Dream Mile in New York.

Finally, I need to throw a very special shoutout to the family and friends of Brad Treat, who recently passed away. Brad was a terrific runner for Flathead High School and the University of Montana. He is a part of the legacy of the “runner’s world” here in the Flathead Valley. As we all know, legacy inspires, teaches, and informs. Treat certainly is a part of raising the bar and setting the standard. Rest in peace.

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