George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor firstname.lastname@example.org
The track and field season is winding down, and for many Hi-Line athletes, the fun is just beginning. On Thursday afternoon at Memorial Stadium in Great Falls, Class C teams from around the area will gather for the Northern C Divisional track meet, with berths in the Class C state meet on the line. On the girls side, the favorite has to be two-time defending Class C state champion Big Sandy. The Pioneers not only have star junior Kourtney Danreuther, who has owned the divisional meet the last two years, but they have a deep team that includes state champion jumper Amber Amsbaugh, thrower Laci Keller and sprinter Mariah Gullickson. The Pioneers also get plenty of help from jump Desirae O'Neil and others. Danreuther will be after plenty of gold on Thursday as she looks to defend her Northern C titles in the 200 meters, the 400 meters and the high hurdles. This season, the star will also try to add the long jump and the 800 meters to her list of divisional accomplishments. But Big Sandy isn't the only team in the field that could walk away with a team title on Thursday. Rivals North Star and Chester/J-I, as well as District 8C frontrunners Belt and Geraldine all have the depth to push the Pioneers. North Star captured the District 9C championship behind a strong effort from the likes of Sarah Helmbrecht and Natasha Dyrland, both of whom should contend for plenty of gold on Thursday. And the Knights also proved to that they have the depth to be a contender the rest of the postseason. Meanwhile, the Hawks cruised to the 10C title, and senior Daina Kolstad could win more than her share of gold on Thursday after she won four events at the 10C meet. The Hawks also have plenty of depth with a solid group of distance runners and jumpers. Chinook is another team that could score plenty of points at the divisional meet with a strong group of sprinters led by Tia Bower, as well as solid distance runners. The Beeters are also favored in the 400-meter relay. On the boys side, Big Sandy is the two-time defending divisional champions, but the Pioneers may not have the depth to keep pace this year. Centerville brings one of the strongest teams into Thursday's meet, while the 9C enters strong contenders in North Star, Turner, Chinook and the Pioneers. The Knights rolled to the 9C title last week in Havre, and with a seniorladen team led by Cody Jurenka, Josh Beaudry and Adam Chvilicek, as well as star distance runner Kellan Warren and the versatile Zack Halter, the Knights may have the right formula to bring the divisional championship back to the Hi-Line. Big Sandy still has plenty of starpower too, especially in the sprints where Pat Louvar is a favorite this week. The Pioneers also have a returning state-champion distance runner in Darin Ray, and a trio of talented throwers. Chinook, has a solid group of sprinters, and Turner, the surprise of the spring, has a host of talent led by Wade Hofer, who captured three district titles, as well as Travis Hofer, who is a standout jumper and hurdler, and thrower Taylor Fouts. Chester/J-I, the 10C champion, might also have something to say about Thursday's outcome. The Hawks have the depth to keep pace with everybody in the field, and distance runner Jon Faugherbach is a favorite in all three long races. Callen McKinley, Chase Pimley and Garrett Graff should also score points for the C/J-I boys. The top five finishers in each event will advance to the Class C state meet next Friday and Saturday in Bozeman. The 2008 Northern C meet gets under way Thursday morning at Memorial Stadium in Great Falls.