By Kent Dolezal
With first place showings by Matt Kegel, Laura Watson and Leshae Michels, both the Havre boys and girls track and field teams raced to a second place finishes at the Central A divisional meet held at the Havre Middle School track Friday and Saturday.
Belgrade won both the boys and girls team competitions with 168 and 121 points, respectively. Havre, with 92 points, edged Beaverhead High by three points for the runner-up spot. The Blue Pony girls were also in a tight race, getting a three and one-half point margin on Anaconda. The Havre girls finished with 98 points.
There is not too much you cant say about this group of kids. They came to compete, said Havre head track coach Bob Lanning. Belgrade merely came with more quality performers.
Kegel was Havres only multiple medalist, as his bound of 21 feet 3 inches in the long jump and triple jump of 44-3 garnered him two titles. Kegel also was second in both the 200-meter and 400-meter dashes. His efforts accounted for 36 team points.
Watson raced to a 26.32-second finish in the 200, giving her the win. Watson, who lead the Blue Pony girls with 24 team points, was also second in the 400 and third in the 800.
Laura had probably the toughest combination that anyone could have, said distance coach Noel Henderson. She just really came through. She worked hard for two years. She made me believe that she is a sprinter.
Michels edged Heidi McGree of Butte Central by one-half inch to come away with the triple jump honors on a leap of 34-3. Michels also was second in the long jump and fourth in the 300-meter hurdles, accounting for 20 team points.
Kegel had entered the Central A meet with the goal of breaking the triple jump record. His first jump was over 45 feet, but was a scratch by less than two inches. Kegel, who saw competition in the 200, triple jump and 1600-meter relay all within the same hour, did not take a jump in the triple-jump final.
Matt is a team player, said Havre jumping coach John Ita. He unselfishly gave up (an attempt on the triple jump record) to compete in the team events. He did what was important to the team.
Michels, along with fellow triple jumper Erin Patera, both had strong meets Ita said. Erin and Leshae are there every week. They put everything on the line and jump to their potential, Ita said. Leshae has a good chance at state in the long jump.
Patera was fourth in the triple jump, and turned in another fourth-place showing in the javelin.
All four of Havres relays qualified for state. The boys 400-meter relay of Brent Finneman, Ryan Evans, Adam Landgraf and Jarrod Wirt took the top spot with a time of :45.01.
The girls 400 relay placed second, while both 1600-meter teams came in third.
Jennie Peterson tallied two third place finishes in the 1600, 5:34.06, and 3200, 12:20.45. Fellow Blue Pony distance runner Jen Dibble was hampered with a thigh injury and, unfortunately, was unable to qualify. Henderson said Dibble showed a lot of guts competing with the injury.
Havres sprint standout Brent Finneman also saw himself limited due to injury. Finneman fought off his hamstring pull to place sixth in the 100, but had to scratch from the 200-meter final. Finneman had won several races a both those distances through out the season.
Steve Wilson Havres top hurdler is also nursing a hamstring. He was able to make the state tourney in the 300-meter hurdles.
Jake Dusek, jumping in the shadow of seniors Kegel and Evans, qualified in both the triple and long jumps. Dusek, unfortunately, bumped out fellow Blue Pony Steve Keeler in the triple jump. Ita said that Keeler entered the meet wanting to clear 42 feet and did so, a new personal record for Keeler.
Evans qualified in both the triple jump and high jump.
Amy Ranes will make the trip to Missoula this weekend after her third in the high jump. Shaylee OConnell, set a new personal best with her third place finish in the shot put.
Another shot putter Jeramie Robinson topped his previous performances by two feet having a push of 49-8 to finish second.
Jesse Suek turned in a 156-5 in the discus to qualify.
Lanning complemented the performances of Robinson, Suek and OConnell, saying that the athletes rose to the occasion of the divisional meet.
Chris Springer earned trip to state in the 3200 by beating his former top time by more than 30 seconds, while pole vaulter Chris Myers cleared 11-0, one and one-half foot better than his previous best to qualify.
Erin Lynch, also setting a new personal record, made the final squad in the 800, and Jeri Matter will represent Havre in the high jump.
All the coaches thanked the workers at the tournament Friday and Saturday. We had great help, Henderson said. It was one of the best run meets I have ever seen. The efforts of everyone involved are sure appreciated
Havre will be in Missoula this Friday and Saturday for the state Class A track and field meet.