Track and Field

Local Athletes Compete in Olympic Trials

Three Flathead Valley graduates took to the track and field in Eugene on Friday

By Micah Drew
Decathlete Lee Walburn, formerly of Carroll College, practices at Whitefish High School on June 8, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Lee Walburn, a 2019 graduate from Whitefish High School, was one of the first athletes to compete at the 2024 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Ore., on Friday.

The 2021 and 2022 NAIA national champion and 2024 All American for Washington State University was one of 18 athletes accepted to compete in the decathlon, with the top three finishers earning a spot on Team USA for this summer’s Paris Olympics.

Fresh off a personal best performance at the NCAA championships just two weeks ago, Walburn opened the first day of the 10-event competition by tying his personal best in the 100m, running 10.85. He also set personal bests in the long jump (22 feet, 1.5 inches) and high jump (6 feet, 6 inches) and threw 47-6.5 in the shot put. For the final event of the first day, Walburn came within a few hundredths of a second of his personal best in the 400m, running 48.44 seconds to finish the day with 4,078 points, good for 10th place in the standings. It was the best first-day decathlon score of his career.

After a 15.05 second performance in the 110m hurdles to kick off the second day of the decathlon, Walburn threw the discus 152 feet, 10 inches. In the pole vault, Walburn cleared 15 feet, 7 inches, but pulled up short on his next attempted height. He left the field in a wheelchair with medical staff and withdrew from the rest of the competition with a lower-leg injury, according to social media.

Montana record holder Evan Todd throws the javelin during the preliminary round June 21, 2024 at the U.S. Olympic Trials at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. Contributed by Chuck Aragon

Representing the University of Montana at the Trials, Glacier High School graduate Evan Todd competed in the men’s javelin on Friday afternoon. After finishing 22nd at the NCAA championships earlier this month, Todd capped off his final season for the Griz with a 16th-place finish in Eugene and a best throw of 221 feet, 3 inches.

The three-time Big Sky Conference champion told the Beacon last week that he will be moving back to the Flathead Valley where he plans to continue training, noting that many of the world’s top-ranked throwers are around 30-years old. “By no means do I think I’m tapped out potential-wise, so I really want to keep working at it,” he said.

The first final of the 10-day track meet with Olympic spots on the line was the men’s 10,000m on Friday night. Montana State University’s Ben Perrin went to the back of the field as BYU alum and Olympic marathoner Connor Mantz towed the field through an early fast pace. Perrin finished 21st in 30:09.11

Grant Fisher won the race in 27:49.47 to earn the U.S. title and will be joined at the Olympics by runner-up Woody Kincaid (27:50.74) and former NAU runner and Big Sky Conference Champion Nico Young (27:52.4), who placed third.