Bulldogs coach Kelliann Blackburn asks a lot from her athletes when they take to the track and field to compete, but during the Class A state championship in Butte over the weekend she asked several athletes to do some true heavy lifting.
Senior Erin Wilde and sophomores Hailey Ells and Brooke Zetooney, competed in a total of 11 individual events as well as two relays, contributing to 94 of the team’s points.
“It could not have gone any more perfect,” Blackburn said. “What those girls did, every single one of them on the team did exactly what they needed to.”
The final event of the meet, the 4×400 relay, was one of the best moments for Blackburn to watch after a lane violation in 2021 disqualified the team from their winning run. This year, Ells, Zetooney, sophomore Isabelle Cooke and freshman Rachael Wilmot stayed in their lanes, had four flawless handoffs and won by four seconds.
“The thing about that relay team, is it’s all underclassmen — three sophomores and a freshman, so this is a strong team for a lot of years,” Blackburn said.
Because many Whitefish athletes were tripled, quadrupled and quintupled up in events, trying to keep track of them was dizzying. At one point, Ells requested to make her first high jump attempt out of order so she could make it to the final of the 200 meters that had just been called — her eighth race of the weekend.
“When I saw Hailey just bouncing across the field to start the 200, that’s when I knew she was going to make it all the way to the relay,” Blackburn said. “She’d been running all day and I’m sure her legs felt weak, but she’s just a machine. That’s one strong kid, but man I asked a lot from her.”
Senior Wilde ended her tenure with Whitefish by winning her signature event, the high jump, as the only athlete to clear 5’ 03. With all competition eliminated, Wilde requested the bar moved to 5’ 07.25” for a final attempt at a lifetime best before graduating. She just missed her attempts but was still ecstatic with her win, as well as her third place in the long jump.
A crowd favorite performance was any that saw Brooke Zetooney lean across the finish line, which she did multiple times for victories in the 100m, 200m and anchoring both relays, as well as a surprising runner up finish in the 400m.
“I achieved everything I’d hoped for but I wasn’t expecting to do that well in the 400. To be able to PR was just so awesome on top of everything else,” Zetooney said. “God made me fast and I just want to keep working on it and get faster.
Whitefish was the only school to have podium finishes on the girls and boys side with the boys taking second place overall.
Seniors Talon Holmquist and Gabe Menicke both repeated as champions in the shot put and triple jump respectively, while Bodie Smith scored in both hurdles and the long jump, and Deneb Linton brought in points with a third-place finish in the 3200.
Full results from the state track meet can be found here.
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