George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor firstname.lastname@example.org
It may not be the ideal situation for either the Havre High boys or the HHS girls track teams. But none-the-less, both Blue Pony teams are going to the Class A state track meet with one thing in mind gold. The 2007 Class A state meet gets under way today at the Missoula County Track located at Missoula Big Sky High School, and most finals will be run on Saturday. “This is a tough year because there are just a lot of really deep and talented teams,” HHS head coach Mark West said. “But we have a few kids with a chance to do really well at state.” One of those with a good chance at gold this weekend is returning state champion Lena Suek. Suek, a senior at HHS, is making her fourth trip to the state meet, and last season, she captured gold in both the discus and javelin. And with the best javelin throw in the state this season, and being a seasoned veteran in the disc, Suek will expect nothing less than to perform the double again this year. “Lena has a little more competition than she had last year,” West said. “But I think she likes that. I think she throws well under some pressure, and I expect her to do very well at state.” Despite a difficult Central A divisional meet, senior Carmen Neuens should be poised to reach the medal stand and score plenty of points for HHS this weekend. Neuens will compete in three individual events for HHS, including the high jump, long jump and triple jump. Neuens has had a strong showing at the state meet in the high jump in the past, and she should compete for a state championship again in that event this weekend. “Carmen has had a great season,” West said. “And I think she is really going to perform this weekend. Both her and Lena have the best chance to score a lot of points this weekend, and I think both of them will do very well.” Havre High’s relay teams could also be a factor at the state meet. Neuens and Hanna Wells lead the 400-meter team along with Brittany Ennis and Janelle Job. The 1600-meter team should also be strong with Tricia Samson, Shayla Preeshl, Karla Hellegaard and Larissa Hand. “I think if they run their best, our relay teams have a good chance of making the finals,” West said. “We have some good young sprinters and runners and some veteran kids, and I like what our relay teams did at divisionals.” Wells will also compete twice for HHS. The junior had a strong season in the hurdles and she will compete in both the 100- meter and 300-meter hurdles. HHS will also have J’nai Verploegen in the pole vault. As for the team title, the girls race should come down to Dillon, Corvallis and Polson. Whitefish, Miles City, Belgrade and Lewistown also bring strong teams to the state meet. On the boys side, the Ponies bring 13 competitors into a loaded boys field. Dillon is the odds-on favorite to capture the team title this season, but Belgrade and Lewistown both have the firepower to upend the Beavers in Missoula. “There are a lot of really good athletes this year on the boys side,” West said. “I mean, Belgrade and Lewistown are just loaded. So without Kyle (Finneman) in the sprints, it’s going to be tough for our boys team to score a lot of points at state.” Finneman surprised everybody last year be sweeping the premier 100-meters and 200-meters at the state meet in Butte. But nagging injuries have prevented Finneman from sprinting this year, so instead he took up the javelin, and finished a solid second at the divisional meet last weekend in Belgrade. Aside from Finneman, HHS’s best chance at a gold medal will come from distance runner Andy Keim. Keim has had a tremendous season, and he has not placed outside the Top Six in any Class A meet in both the 1600-meters and 3200- meters this year. He will run both of those races for HHS this weekend. Kaden Keto will also run the 800-meters for HHS. “Andy has been running great all year,” West said. “And he’ll have to probably put up some personal best times this weekend. But if he runs his race, he’s certainly capable of doing that.” HHS also has some strong throwers in the field this weekend, including Robert The Boy, who placed second at divisionals in the shot put. Grayson Winsor is also in the field in the shot put, and Paul Jensen will throw the discus for HHS. “Our throwers have looked really good this year,” West said. “But there are some really good kids at state this weekend. So I don’t know how many points we’ll get there. But all of those guys have had a really good season for us, and they’ll all be back next year. So this is really good experience for them.” In the jumps, the Ponies will send out Andy Pester and Jack Teske in the triple jump, and Mike Hickman in the long jump. Havre High’s 400-meter relay team is composed of Hickman, Adam Briese, Thomas Kline and Jordan Van Voast, and the 1600-meter relay team is made up of Hickman, Keim, Kline and John Perrodin. “I think our boys team has had a really good season,” West said. “But we’re still young, so I don’t know how many points we’ll score this weekend. But we have a lot of great athletes on this team, and I know all of these kids are going to go out and compete hard. And once you make the finals, anything can happen from there. So it should be an interesting weekend.” The 2007 Class A state track meet begins today in Missoula and will conclude on Saturday afternoon.