One one-hundredth of a second—10 times faster than the average eye blink—is all that separated Flathead’s Lilli Rumsey Eash and Columbia Falls’ Siri Erickson at the finish line of the girls 1600-meter run during Tuesday’s Kalispell Time Trials.
After running together in a pack along with Flathead’s Bailey Wride, Mikenna Conan and Madelaine Jellison, Eash and Erickson cranked down their pace over the last of the race’s four laps, matching each other stride for stride into the homestretch and across the finish line.
Eash came away with the photo-finish victory in 5:35.54, to Erickson’s 5:35.55. The times rank the two athletes third in Class AA and fifth in Class A respectively.
The meet, which featured athletes from Glacier, Whitefish, Bigfork and Libby high schools, was held at Legend’s Stadium during cold and windy conditions — classic early season track weather. Even as most events were conducted under sub-par conditions, several athletes put up solid marks.
For the Whitefish girls, a team entering the track season highly favored to win a back-to-back state title, several athletes notched their qualifying marks for the Class A state meet.
Brooke Zetooney, a defending state champion, won the girls 100m in 12.87, and anchored both Bulldogs’ relay teams to wins on Tuesday in state-qualifying times.
Junior Hailey Ells and sophomore Rachael Wilmot both finished just behind Zetooney, narrowly missing automatic qualifiers. Ells won the 300m hurdles, also narrowly missing an auto-qualifier.
Meanwhile, the Flathead girls picked up the most wins, with athletes taking first in the 100m hurdles (Bristol Lenz, 17.23), javelin (Taliana Miller, 122-09), high jump (Kennedy Moore, 5-04), triple jump (Afton Wride, 34-10), and all three distance running events (Bailey Wride, 800m, 2:29.82; Eash, 1600m, 5:35.54; Madelaine Jellison, 3200m, 12:32.02).
Moore’s high jump victory is the top Class AA mark this season.
Bigfork senior Scout Nadau snagged a win in the discus, while Glacier’s Karys Camp won the long jump and Kai Johnson outthrew Nadau in the shot put. Columbia Falls’ Ally Sempf won the 200m and teammate Emma McAllister came away with the pole vault title. Libby’s Rylee Boltz jumped a Class A leading 5-02 in the high jump and won the 400m.
On the boys side, the early-season all-athlete meet featured 116 athletes in the 100m race alone. The top heat was won by Glacier’s Jackson Hensley in 11.42.
Glacier athletes combined to win seven events, while the Flathead Braves took home eight first place finishes. Columbia Falls was the only non-Class AA team to top the podium with Malaki Simpson’s win in the 200m and a victory in the 4×400 relay.
The top marks in the boys events both came in the long jump, where Flathead’s Brody Thornsberry and Glacier’s Jeff Lillard had a cross-town battle in the sand. Thornsberry emerged victorious with a jump of 21 feet 11 inches, clearing Lillard’s best mark of 21 feet 1.5 inches. Both jumpers surpassed the automatic state qualifying mark, with Thornsberry leading all of Class AA in the event.
For full results from the Kalispell Time Trials, visit athletic.net.
Next up for the valley’s track teams: Glacier will dual Butte on April 14 at home. Flathead, Columbia Falls and Whitefish will travel to Missoula on Saturday for the Missoula County Public Schools Invitational, and Bigfork will compete in the Dilly Bar Invitational in Ronan on Saturday.
The Archie Roe Invitational, one of the state’s largest meets, will take place at Legends Stadium on Saturday, May 6.
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