By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editoremail@example.com
Havre High head track coach John Ita isn't opposed to his athletes playing in basketball tournaments, just not the night before a track meet. Despite several of his athletes suffering from tired legs from playing in a 3-on-3 tournament on Friday night, Ita's teams were able to capture their respective titles in the Lions Track and Field Invitational on Saturday at the Havre Middle School track.
"I really hoped to use this meet to see where we were at," Ita said. "But we had no legs from playing basketball. With the limited number of athletes because of the music festival, we really dodged a bullet. We got a win on sheer numbers."
Tired legs or not, Havre still got some strong individual performances.
Steve Heberly continued to dominate the sprints, picking up wins in the 100- and 200-meter dashes. Heberly broke the meet record in the 200 with a 22.00, eclipsing the old record of 22.40 which was run by Jeff Estell of Fort Benton in 1985.
"Steve had a nice day," Ita said. "It was nice to get the record. He ran well in the 100, but could you imagine what he would have run like if he wasn't sore from Friday night?"
The Ponies also got individual titles from Scott Robinson in the 400-meter dash and Jeff Sprinkle in the 800-meter run. Robinson added a third in the 200 and joined Heberly on both the 400- and 1,600-meter championship relay teams. Sprinkle finished second in the 1,600-meter run behind Malta's West NeVille, who won the 1,600 and 3,200.
"Scott is really going to be good in the 400," Ita said. "We're starting to get him into events he needs to be good. Our distance boys all had personal records, which was good."
Besides Sprinkle, Kasey Barsotti picked up a second and a third in the 1,600 and 3,200, while Evan Olson finished fifth in the 1,600.
For the second straight week, senior Mark Benjamin captured the pole vault, clearing a season-best 12-6. Steven Harman also captured the long jump with a jump of 20-6.
Fort Benton behind the Utterback brothers, Loren and Brandon, finished second and KG finished third.
The boys weren't the only ones guilty of playing basketball on Friday. Several of the Pony girls also competed. And like the boys, the girls still managed to capture the team title. Unlike the boys, the girls only captured one title on the day. The 400 relay team consisting of Rylee O'Connell, Sherry Winchell, Brooke Schwan and Alicia Overcast ran a solid 52.30 to edge Lewistown.
With only one event title, Havre got a balanced effort from several girls who placed in multiple events. Overcast picked up second-place finishes in the 400- meter dash and the 300 hurdles, while O'Connell added a second in the 100 and third in the 200- meter dash. The Ponies also got 17 team points from Kelsey Smith, who placed in four events, including a second in the pole vault and third in the long jump. Schwan and Winchell placed in three events each to add some more points.
"Rylee had a really solid day," Ita said. "Once again, Kelsey Smith scored a lot of points for us and Alicia had a pretty good day. The girls are doing what they have to do as a team to find a way to win."
One of the main reasons Havre didn't win any more individual titles was Conrad's Loni Perkins, who dominated every event she entered. Perkins won the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dash, the high jump and the long jump. Perkins also set meet records in the 200 (25.50) and 400 (58.10) while leading the Cowgirls to a third-place finish.
"She's a legitimate athlete," Ita said of Perkins. "It's neat to see someone perform like that, especially a quality person like her."
Malta's Roshon Nordlund captured both the 100 and 300 hurdles, and teammate Lyndie NeVille won the 800- and 1,600- meter runs, including a meet record in the 800 with a time of 2:30.00 to lead the M-Ettes to a second-place finish.
"I'm glad we won the meet," Ita said. "But I'm disappointed with the decisions our kids made. The basketball set us back about two weeks trainingwise."
Havre will face some tough competition this week as several junior varsity and varsity members travel to Fort Benton for a dual while others travel to Butte and Great Falls for very prestigious Class AA meets.
"We have got some big challenges coming up," Ita said. "This weekend could be a very humbling experience."