By Kent Dolezal
Coming off a second place finish at the Central A divisional in both the girls and boys competitions, the Havre Blue Ponies now take their qualifiers to the State Class A track and field tournament this Friday and Saturday in Missoula.
Wed like to get a trophy, said Havre head coach Bob Lanning. We know it is going to be very difficult to get, but we are going to give it a shot.
Lanning said he sees Matt Kegel being the possible high-point getter for the boys team, while LaShae Michels and Laura Watson headline the girls contingent.
Kegel, who qualified in the triple jump, long jump, 200-meter dash and both relays, has jumped over 45-0 in the triple jump and has placed in the event at state before.
Matt is going to be real competitive, said jumps coach John Ita. I can see Matt just competing with whoever is there. For example, if that kid from Polson jumps a 45-0, Matt will jump a 45-6. That is just the kind of kid he is.
Kegel will be joined in the triple and long jumps by fellow Blue Ponies Jake Dusek and Ryan Evans. Dusek increased his personal record (PR) in the long jump by over two feet at the Central A. Evans has been solid in both jumps all season and will also represent Havre in the high jump.
Watson was the top girl performer for Ponies also qualifying in all her events, the 200, 400, 800 and both relays. Distance coach Noel Henderson said Watson has a legitimate shot in the 200 to be in the top three. He stated that she also has the potential to place in her other two individual races.
Michels cleared 16 feet last weekend, putting her in the top three jumps in Class A this season. LeShae has the most legitimate chance of walking away from this meet as a state champion in the long jump, Ita said.
The scheduling of the events will also be a benefit to both Watson and Kegel. The two athletes, by being in five events, were often racing between competitions at the Central A. With state being a true two-day contest, they should be able to rest, regroup and focus between events.
Now he can spend sometime really concentrating on things, Ita said. I really want him to do well in the triple jump. That is the thing he has always won second places in the state, and hes always wanted to win it.
With the time constraint last Saturday, Kegel passed on all his attempts in the triple jump finals in order to run the 200 dash and 1600-meter relay.
Although they have the trials in the 400, (Watson) gets to run the 800 first and the rest are just trials, Henderson said. She just needs to get in the top five. She has a great shot of placing in all of her events. I think she is going to surprise some people.
Havre will also be well represented in the weight events, by shotputters Jeramie Robinson and Shaylee OConnell, discus thrower Jesse Suek and Erin Patera in the Javelin.
Robinson increased his PR by two feet last week and is nearing 50-0. OConnell, if she throws her best, has a shot at placing, said weight coach Jim Gabriel. Suek increased his seasons best by 156-5 last week, and, Gabriel said, he is capable of going over 160-0.
Jennie Peterson, in the 1600- and 3200-meter runs, is a strong challenger for state medals, Henderson said. If she runs what she has run, she will be battling for a place, he said.
Erin Lynch will run the 800, and Chris Springer is running in the 3200. Springer decreased his time by over 30 seconds at the Central A. We talked about what his lap splits were like, Henderson said. There are parts of the race where we see where he can make about a 10 second improvement on what he has done. We are looking for him to have another PR at state.
Amy Ranes and Jeri Matter, both freshmen, will represent the Ponies in the high jump.
Chris Myers will wear the Blue Pony blue and white in the pole vault.
Sprinter Brent Finneman and hurdler Steve Wilson qualified in the 100 and 300 hurdles, respectively, but both are battling injury. Lanning said that Wilsons injury doesnt look good and could keep him from competition. Finneman has been resting and will put his slight hamstring injury to the test.
Also making the trip to race in Havres strong relays are Jarrod Wirt, Adam Landgraf and Alyssa Matter.