By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editoremail@example.com
Nothing like a little breeze to kick up the competitive spirits and a mountain of dust.
The KG boys and the Havre girls JV team battled through winds gusting up to 45 miles per hour to capture the team titles in the KG/Cal Wearley Invitational track meet at the Havre Middle School track on Wednesday afternoon.
The KouGar boys got strong performances from seniors Casey Crites and Thomas Marshall and solid contributions from all of its 14 team members to score 101 team points and edge the Havre boys JV team.
Crites captured three events - the 100 and 200 meter dashes and high jump - while anchoring the KG 400-meter relay that finished sixth. He scored a total of 30.25 points for the KouGars.
Marshall was right behind Crites, scoring 28.25 tean points, highlighted by a first place finish in the 110 meter hurdles and a pair of seconds in the 300 hurdles and long jump.
"We performed really well despite the wind," said KG head coach Butch Marshall. "We also had an injury to Tyler Kapperud, who pulled his groin. That forced us to switch up some relay teams and do some last minute shuffling."
But the injury didn't slow the KouGars scoring. KG's 1600 meter relay team comprised of Thomas Marshall, Drew Kapperud, Luke Antonich and Richie Melby finished a solid second behind Blue Sky.
Marshall was particularly happy with Antonich's performance as the junior picked up a pair of seconds in the 110 hurdles and the pole vault.
"I was real pleased with Luke," Marshall said. "He's been really consistent and he's going to get us some important points at state in the pole vault if he can stay in that 12-foot range."
The Havre boys JV team had a hint of varsity flavor as a few of the Pony varsity members competed in the meet, but they were competing in different events for the first time.
Senior Steve Heberly ran the 400 meter dash for the first time this season. After having Heberly run the anchor leg in the 1600 meter relay in Saturday's meet, Pony head coach John Ita wanted Heberly to run the 400 to see how he would react and also as a bit of a workout.
"We treated it a little as a workout situation," Ita said. "We wanted to see how he would do. Steve knows what he will have to do this year to help us at divisionals and state."
Heberly eased to the 400 win with a time of 53.80, despite easing up on the final 100 meters after establishing a large lead.
Sophomore Scott Robinson, normally a 400 runner, captured the 800-meter run in his first ever time running the distance in competition.
"With all that wind and his first time running it, for Scott to run a 2:11 is pretty exciting," Ita said. "By the end of the season, he could be below the two-minute mark."
Seniors Mark Benjamin and Kasey Barsotti also captured titles in the pole vault and 1600-meter run, respectively.
But the meet was for his JV squad and Ita was pleased with several of his athletes. Junior Anthony Bonavita had a strong day placing second in the high jump and adding a pair of fifths in the 100 meter dash and the 300 hurdles.
"He's worked so hard on improving his strength," Ita said. "He's going to push himself into a varsity relay spot."
The Chester boys paced by Travis VanDyke's title in the javelin and solid performances from Nick Lasorte and Kevin Fenger finished third. Blue Sky finished a close fourth and was paced by Roald Aageson's shot put title and the 1600 meter relay team consisting of Jon Lipp, Conrad Wendland, Eric Groth and Mitch McKinley.
If Ita was pleased with his boys JV team, he was ecstatic with his girls JV team. The Pony girls scored 110.5 points to outdistance Geraldine, Belt and Centerville.
"The coaches were all smiles after the meet," Ita said. "The girls really got after it."
The Ponies got individual titles from Rylee O'Connell in the 100 meter dash, Alicia Overcast in the 800 meter run and Kelsey Smith in the pole vault.
Ita was particularly please with Smith, who scored a team-high 24 points for the Ponies.
"Kelsey Smith had big day," Ita said. "She goes 8'6 in the pole vault and 15'1 in the long jump, both of those marks are about a foot better than she's ever done."
Smith finished second in the long jump and also added a third place finish in the 400.
Ita was also happy with his 400-meter relay team consisting of Cammie and Kelsey West, Julie Owens and Alexa Lipp that finished third.
"Those girls really did a nice job and ran hard," Ita said.
Big Sandy's Ashley Goodian scored all 20 of her team's points picking up wins in the 1600 and 3200-meter runs.
KG's Kim Berg picked up her second javelin title of the season as well as a third-place finish in the shot put. However, Marshall believes she is still feeling the effects of knee surgery in the fall.
"Her knee is still bothering her," Marshall said. "Last year, she had surgery on her right knee which is her push off leg, this year she had surgery on her left knee which is her plant leg. It hurts to plant to hard. She's developing tendinitis."
Still, there are few that will contest Berg's competitiveness including Marshall, who said she will be ready come the end of the season.
The Blue Sky girls team was the highest finishing 9C squad at sixth. The Eagles got a second place finish from the 1600-meter relay team of Lindsay Anderson, Kim Patrick, Kile Patrick and Kaila Warren.
Most of the teams in Wednesday's meet will be back in Havre for Saturday's Lions Invitational at the Havre Middle School track.