MISSOULA — When facing the field at the state track meet, athletes are facing the best of the best. And while the Havre High track team may not have had its best showing this weekend, the Blue Ponies are still hopeful for the future.
The Central A Blue Ponies spent the weekend in Missoula at the Class A State Track Meet. The meet was held at the MCPS Track Complex on the campus of Big Sky Highs School, where a total of 19 Blue Ponies competed.
On the boys side of things, it was Columbia Falls finishing No. 1 with 98 points, while Corvallis was No. 2 with 72 and Billings Central was No. 3 with 62. And for the girls, Corvallis finished No. 1 with 103 points, while Whitefish was No. 2 with 78 and Sidney was No. 3 with 68.
The HHS boys scored no points on the weekend, and the HHS girls finished in the top 20 when they came away with just 1/2 point after two sixth-place finishes.
Jaye Ceynar and Lacey Waid both placed sixth in the girls pole vault after clearing 9-0. But two other girls also tied for sixth place, and the normal one point given out for a sixth place finish was divided amongst the athletes.
“I really thought it was a good experience to take the kids down and let them see the state's best track competition,” Havre High head coach Trever VanCampen said. “Hopefully it will prepare them for next year, as well as hopefully give them an insight on the work ethic it takes to place at the state level. The kids we took down this year, will be our core group of leaders next year and I think it was a real eye opener to what exactly they will be competing against next year.”
Out of the 19 athletes who made the trip, 11 competed in individual events. And while only two athletes placed for the Ponies, there was still a solid amount of steady improvement in the last weekend of competition.
Overall the competition was at a very high level, and that was to be expected at the state meet. And as the Ponies faced off from those from the likes of Columbia Falls, Corvallis, Billings Central, Belgrade, Whitefish and Sidney, HHS still found themselves recording personal bests.
“We were really up against the top state talent not only in the Class A, but the whole state as well,” VanCampen said. “The competition for the distance races was especially phenomenal, but it was a good experience overall for all of our kids that got to compete.”
Some of the personal best that the Ponies recorded included Katie Christianson taking an astonishing 17 seconds off of her best 3,200-meter time. And both girls pole vaulters improved as well, with their 9-0 heights, while Peyton Filius took five seconds off of her 800-meter time. Both relay teams also improved this weekend. The girls short realay finished in the low 50-second margin and the long relay finished in the low four minutes. The short relay was made up of Jenifer Nordgulen, Lexi Olsen, Ashlynn Van Voast and Ceynar, while the long rely was made up of Christianson, Filius, Olson and VanVoast.
The HHS boys also saw some more improvement, with their short relay finishing up in just 45 seconds. Zack Plum, Tyson Kultgen, Kade Barsotti and Mason Case made up the relay team, but Ty Bauer also improved on his own. Bauer shaved some time off of his best 800-meter time and finished just under 2:10.
Paighton Gilman, Kendall Murie, Thurman Holdsclaw, Matt Emge and Mason Case also competed this weekend for the Ponies.
“The kids that earned personal bests this weekend proved that there is still plenty of room for growth and improvement in this program,” VanCampen said. “I don’t think we were able to tap into our full potential this season, but I think it is going to be exciting to see in the years to come, how well some of these kids can compete at the state level.
“State was only our seventh meet of the year,” VanCampen added. “I am just curious to see where some of our kids would have been if we would have three or four meets under our belts before state, but it was a tough season weather wise for everybody. But like I said, I think that next season we will have a solid core of kids and they will be aware of the work it will take to be competitive at state.”