Track and Field

44th Archie Roe Invitational Track and Field Meet on Deck for Rainy Weekend

More than 1,000 high school athletes from 14 schools are entered in the meet at Kalispell’s Legends Stadium on Saturday

By Micah Drew
High school athletes compete in the Kalispell Time Trials track and field meet at Legends Stadium on April 11, 2023. Micah Drew | Flathead Beacon

In the world of Montana track and field, the first weekend in May is reserved for the Archie Roe Invitational, held at Kalispell’s Legends Stadium. The meet is named for a longtime Flathead High School supporter, Archibald Dean Roe and has been one of the state’s largest track and field competitions for 44 years.

The meet routinely draws schools from all classifications across Montana, in part because of its unique structure. Archie Roe is really three track and field meets in one — athletes compete in boys and girls varsity, junior varsity and freshman competitions, which are all scored separately. The format allows for opportunities for the youngest competitors to line up against their peers for the chance to win a medal — possibly the only one of their prep careers — which longtime Bigfork coach Sue Loeffler is a fan of.

“This is the only big meet that the freshmen get to compete against their own. There just aren’t many chances for them to do that and it’s such a big jump for kids to jump up and compete at the high school level,” Loeffler said. “No matter how good of a freshman I have on the team, I let them be freshmen in this meet.”

One of Archie Roe’s old stopwatches rests atop a few news clippings about the late track and field timekeeper on May 1, 2019. His son, Dan Roe, still keeps time at the annual Archie Roe Invitational track meet, which has brought some of Montana’s best high school track athletes to Kalispell from around the state for 45 years. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Having coached at nearly every single Archie Roe Invitational, Loeffler can recall athletes’ highs and lows from performances across the decades, but one meet stands out because only four athletes from Bigfork competed.

“I remember the runners were in their blocks for the relay, and I could see their breath, it was that cold, in May!” she said. “After that race we got straight on the bus and went home.”

After a week of temperatures in the mid-80s, Montana’s spring weather has turned cold and rainy in time for Saturday’s invitational, in which more than 1,000 athletes are entered across all track and field disciplines. The first events start at 10 a.m. with the varsity pole vault and varsity boys 3200-meter run and the meet will run through the afternoon.