By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sports/ email@example.com
MISSOULA - Before the Class A state track and field championships began in Missoula on Friday, many people had speculated as to whether Havre High star sprinter Steve Heberly was the fastest man in the state of Montana. Well, the speculating is over.
On Saturday afternoon, Heberly wowed a crowd of nearly 3000 spectators at Missoula County High School Stadium by capturing the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dash state titles with blazing times in all three.
Heberly began the day with the much anticipated 100-meter final in which he was to go head-to-head with Whitefish sprinter Cody Henning. But the dual never materialized as Heberly blew Henning and the rest of the field away en route to shattering the All-Class state record with a smoking time of 10.74 seconds. Heberly's 100 meter time surpassed the mark of his old nemesis Tuff Harris of Colstrip which was set in 2001 with a 10.77.
"I never worried about getting the 100 meter record," Heberly said. "But now that I have it, it feels really good. It is something I am always going to be proud of."
Smashing the 100-meter record would easily have been enough to anoint Heberly as the fastest man in Montana, but what he did later in the day erased whatever doubt could have been left on the minds of anyone.
Heberly showcased his versatility in the 400-meter dash, which was a race he only began running less that a month ago. Heberly took a huge early lead and once again left Henning and the rest of the field in his wake by sprinting the entire length of the track to finish with a blazing time 48.40.
Even Heberly himself was a little surprised at his 400-meter championship.
"I was surprised because there was a lot of good competition and I knew I had not run that event very much," Heberly said. "So I decided to sprint the first 200 meters and see what I had left and it worked out."
And for good measure, Heberly once again left a vapor trail on field in the 200 meters as he cruised to a first place finish with a time of 21.86.
Heberly's three gold medals earned him standing ovations each time he stepped onto the awards podium, and they also earned the highest praise from his head coach.
"It was one of those days that was so fun to just sit back and watch," said Havre High head coach John Ita. "Steve was absolutely amazing. He blew everybody away and he was in full control of himself all day. I am really happy for him."
And not even Heberly could have scripted an ending to one of the most prolific sprinting careers in Montana track and field history.
"This was a great ending to my high school career," Heberly 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."