By Rob Everingham
They came. They saw. They conquered.
After taking second place last year at state, the KG KouGars were tops at Class C state track and field championship held here on the campus of the University of Montana in Dornblaser Stadium.
KG completed a grand slam, winning a state title all of the major sports in all three seasons, football, boys basketball and track and field, in addition to the boys cross country championship it also won last fall.
KG finished out the two-day festivities with 72 points, beating Park City who was second with 60 points and Charlo third with 36 points. KG took a four-point lead over Park City after the first day.
The best finish of the weekend was handed in by senior-distance-runner Travis Stehman, who beat the field in the 3200-meter run by over 20 seconds. Stehman finished with a time of 9:29.92. Younger brother Trevor Stehman took fourth in the race with a time of 9:56.22,while teammate Aaron Smith finished fifth with a 10:10.34.
Travis Stehman also took second in the 1600, behind Craig Widhalm of Belt. In third place was Eric Hanson, who turned in a 4:32.64.
After the race Travis Stehman said he was a little disappointed in his time in the 3200. He added that he has run better time through out this season.
The winning is good even though some of the times arent good, Travis Stehman said.
Stehman also remarked on coach Paul Anderson saying he had given the team a lot.
Hes the main one thats made us go as far as we have, Stehman said.
Jake Stuart had a great weekend. Stuart finished second in the 400 with a time of :50.97. He was behind Joe Cartwright of Whitewater. Stuart also won contest No. 2 with Eric Kleinsasser by taking third in the javelin with a throw of 183 feet and three inches. Kleinsasser had defeated Stuart at divisionals when he broke the 200-0 mark.
Also giving a large contribution to the KouGar team total,was Rhett Crites who plced second in both the long jump and the triple jump. In the long jump on the first day, Crites jumped a 20-10 1/2 and finished second behind Sheridans Don Hanni. In the triple jump, Crites leaped 43-5, again for second place behind HInsdales Chris Barstad
In the high jump, Crites took third, clearing 6-4. Four competitors ended their day at that height. Geysers Mike MacNell cleared 6-6 to win the event.
In the 400-meter relay, the KouGars took third place with a time of 44.62.
After that race Crites said this was the first time the athletes who ran in the 400 had run together in a competition, and the first time they practiced was Friday.
Crites said the rivalry between KG and Chester plays a factor.
We always hate losing to them, Crites said.
Crites said even though Chester was second in the 400 relay, it was a close race.
The KouGars were expected to do well in the 1600 relay but a dropped baton on the first exchange put KG in the back. The KouGars ended up seventh in the race after two great 400 runs by both Jake Stuart and Travis Stehman.
After the meet, Joey Stuart said it feels really good to be state champs. He said it doesnt seem like they won the title. Stuart also qualified for state in the triple jump but did not place. He added that he should have jumped better but there is always next year.
Joey Stuart is one of only a few athletes who were at state for KG this year who will be returning next year. He said he is hopeful and excited about coming back next season and trying to repeat.
He added that they are losing a lot of talent with the seniors that are leaving, but they have some good young talent that will help the team a lot the next few seasons.
On the girls side, the KouGars took just two girls to state in Christin Smith and Jenny Jorgenson.
Smith came away with a top finish in the 3200 with a time of 11:48.11. Smith also took second place in the 1600 with a time of 5:24.53.
Smith said she wanted to try and beat the record she set last year, but it was later in the day and heat had taken its toll on her. But she added that she was pleased with the win.
Jorgenson finished third in the triple jump for her best state finish. She jumped a 35-8 in that event. Jorgenson also placed in the long jump with a leap of 16-0, which was good enough for sixth place.
After the triple jump, Jorgenson said she wanted to jump as far as she had all year and she accomplished that goal. Jorgenson said after being out for a majority of the year with an injury that she was happy with how she finished.
The KG girls finished fifth overall with just two athletes competing.
Weve worked toward this all year, KG coach Paul Anderson said.
With track being an individual sport, Anderson said they have talked about how they would need to pull together as a team to win the state title.
You have to have that team unity to do well in track, Anderson said, because you have to feed off each other.
Its not all about top finishes, Anderson said the fourth and fifth place finishes are the big ones and also the performance of Crites really put the KouGars over the top.
As for the seniors, Anderson said it will be tough to replace the talent he will lose.
The senior leadership here was incredible, Anderson said.
Anderson said they athletes are just winners. With four state trophies for the school this year.