By Patrick Winderl/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
Havre track standout Steve Heberly may be done with high school, but his days of winning awards are far from over.
Heberly, who capped his high school running career by winning three state titles in May, was honored again today by winning the Gatorade High School Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year Award for the state of Montana.
Heberly is one of 51 athletes, one from every state and Washington, D.C., who is eligible to win the National High School Track and Field Athlete of the Year Award. The 51 winners were selected by a panel of sport-specific experts as well as the National Media Advisory Board.
According to a press release from Gatorade, the athletes were chosen based on their outstanding accomplishments on and off the field of play. The award's criteria included not only strong athletic performance, but also achievements in the classroom and overall character.
Heberly won the 100-meter, 200-meter, and 400-meter dashes at the state championship in Missoula last month. He set the all-class state record in the 100 meter with a time of 10.74.
Heberly's three gold medals earned him standing ovations each time he stepped onto the awards podium, and they also earned strong praise from Havre High School track coach John Ita.
"It was one of those days that was so fun to just sit back and watch," Ita said after the meet. "Steve was absolutely amazing. He blew everybody away and he was in full control of himself all day."
After the meet, Heberly said he was pleased with his performance. He could not be reached for comment today.
"This was a great ending to my high school career," he said. "I can't say it was perfect because to me perfect would have been the team winning the state championship. But we had a great season and I am really happy with how it ended."
Once dubbed the "fastest human in Montana," Heberly will continue his track career at Montana State University-Bozeman.
Ita said in the press release that coaching Heberly has been a pleasure.
"The things I enjoyed about coaching Steve were his coachability and his willingness to do what was best for the team," he said. "Steve always conducts himself as a true sportsman."
For the past 18 years, Gatorade, with Scholastic Coach and Athletic Director magazine, has given the track and field award to one candidate in each state. One of the 51 finalists will be named the Gatorade National High School Boys' Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
The Gatorade High School Player of the Year program also awards one National Player of the Year award in football, volleyball, baseball, softball, boys and girls basketball and soccer.
Recent track and field winners for the state of Montana were Ty Norris (2002, Bozeman High School), and two-time winner David Vidal (2001, 2000, Flathead High School).