By Tiffany L. Rehbein
Win, place, or PR.
The Havre Blue Pony track coaches have stressed that idea take first, place, or set a personal-best record to its team throughout the season, and the concept will still be followed this weekend at the Central A divisional meet.
"If the boys are clicking on all cylinders, they should do okay," Havre Head Coach John Ita said. "But they have to get points from everybody."
The Ponies, who have not had a track meet for two weeks, will go to the divisional meet at Bozeman relying on the point-getting ability of everyone.
The Pony boys are deep and strong in the sprints, behind the legs of Brent Finneman, Steve Heberly, and Adam Landgraf.
Finneman's fastest time in the 100 meters is 11.05, Heberly has clocked in his fastest at 11.1, and Landgraf is at 11.2. Joey Howland will also run in the race.
In the 200 meters, Finneman has a best of 22.6, Heberly, 23.1, and Landgraf, 23.4.
In the division, Browning's Jovan Fisher and Lewistown's Damon Woolsey will pose tough competition in both races.
The three Havre boys, in addition to Grant Roman, will also run the 400-meter relay.
"The relays should do very well or win," Ita said about his Ponies, who hold the fastest time in the state Class A in the relay (44.0).
Howland will join Brian DeRosa in the hurdle events. DeRosa has a mark of 16.1 in the 110-meter hurdles and 44.3 in the 300-meter hurdles. DeRosa will also compete in the high jump for the Ponies.
In the throwing events, seniors Jesse Suek and Chris Klobofski, Shawn Solomon, Matt Sasaki, and Josh Klobofski will compete.
Suek has a fine throw of 152-3 to try and top in the discus, while Solomon has a toss of 107-3. Sasaki has a toss of 134-7 in the javelin, and Kris Anderson has a throw of 137-8 in the same event.
Chris Klobofski has a best throw of 141-7 in the discus and 49-3 in the shot put. Josh Klobofski has tosses of 105-2 in the discus and 43-7 in the shot put.
Belgrade's Brent Clark holds the farthest shot toss in the state at 57 feet 2 1/4 inches. Lewistown's Jesse Allen is ranked third in the state in the event with a toss of 54-2. Allen is also tough in the discus, with a personal-best throw of 160-2. It is the second-farthest throw in the state.
So, what will it take for Chris Klobofski to win?
"A miracle," he said. "I just want to throw over 50 (feet)," he continued. And that would be a PR.
Jake Dusek needs to perform well in the jumps. He has personal-bests of 20-5 in the long jump and 42-0 in the triple jump.
Tyler McIntyre of Butte Central leads the division with a jump of 43-5 in the triple jump.
The Ponies will be looking to some freshmen competitors to fill the fifth and sixth place spots at divisional to beef up the team score.
Levi Briese (800, 1,600) and Justin Kegel (long jump, triple jump) are two such athletes.
In the longer running events, Robert Crawford, Rick Husar, Evan Olson, Joey Roman, and Grant Roman will also compete. Nick Pyle will run the 400 meters and the 1,600-meter relay.
Jacob Lorang and B.J. Crawford will compete in the high jump, while Cliff Cunningham will run the 400 and high hurdles.
"The girls stand a very, very good chance of doing well," Ita said. "They have good numbers and quality athletes going in."
Alyssa Matter is entered in five events at the meet. She and LaShae Michels are entered in the most of any athlete from Havre.
The junior runs a 12.8 second 100, 27.3 200, 17.3 100-meter hurdle, and she is a leg on each of the relays.
Jess Leonard and Jamie Branden will also compete in the sprints.
Katie Siebrasse and Tamara Sullins will run the 200 and 400. Sullins is also a member of the relays.
The transfer from Anaconda, Matter, Erin Patera, and Michels, all of whom will run the short relay, are looking forward to the meet.
"We have all run it together at one time or another over the years," Sullins said. "As a team, we are different from last year in numbers. We don't have as much experience, but we have potential."
The girls boast only four seniors on the team.
Sullins, who finished seventh in both the 200 and 400 meters last year, looks to qualify for state during this, her senior, year.
"I've been on the edge for two years, now I just need to mentally prepare myself," Sullins said. Her highest finish in the 200 came at Havre in a dual against Great Falls High. She placed third with a time of 29.4. Her personal-best in the race is 28.0.
"Last year, I was at 27 (seconds) and I need to get that again for my time," Sullins said.
The coaching staff this year has been very influential, Sullins said, and other Blue Pony athletes agreed.
Ita, who has been with the program for 10 years, took over the head position this season. Jim Gabriel, who works with the throwers, is in his second season. Paula Gunlickson is a first-year hurdles coach, and Mark West continued his stint with the sprinters. Noel Henderson is the veteran distance coach.
"I love Mr. Ita's inspiring words before meets," Sullins said. "He tells inspiring stories about little people who have succeeded. He says things like, Just because you're the underdog doesn't mean you can't win.'"
The Ponies are powerful and deep in the middle and long distance runs.
Jennie Peterson holds the second-fastest time in the state in the 3,200 meters (11:45.1). She has a personal-best time of 5:29.9 in the 1,600 meters.
"I think that, hopefully, Jenna (Baltrusch) and I are going to be up for 1-2 in both races," Peterson said. Baltrusch has a fastest competition time of 5:44.1 in the 1,600 and 12:33.41 in the 3,200.
"We work as a team," Peterson said. The duo finished first-second in the 3,200 at the Top 10 track meet at Glasgow more than two weeks ago.
During eight track meets, Peterson has finished first or second in both races seven times. She finished third once in the 3,200 and did not place in the 1,600 at the Optimist meet at Great Falls.
"You have to play the other girls for a couple laps, then punch it until the end," Peterson said. "It's like a game. I like to be in control."
Erin Lynch and Jillian Brough will team with Peterson and Baltrusch in the 1,600 meters. Lynch and Brough will also compete in the 800 with qualifying times of 2:31.3 and 2:35.2, respectively.
LaShae Michels is a fine jumper for the Ponies. She has personal-best jumps of 16-3 in the long jump and 34-8 in the triple jump. McGree of Butte Central could be tough in the long jump. McGree is ranked second in the state in the event with a leap of 17-1 3/4. Michels will also compete in the 300 hurdles and both relays.
Amy Ranes should do well in the high jump, where she leads the team with a jump of 5-1. Belgrade's Voegele could be tough. She has a personal-best jump of 5-4 and is ranked first in the Class A and sixth in the state in the event. Ranes will also compete in the triple jump.
Melissa Haymaker, Tami Huestis, Jeanna McPherson, and Jayla McPherson highlight the discus and shot put event.
Jeanna McPherson leads the team in the shot with a toss of 32-8. Haymaker leads the team in the discus with a throw of 105-3.
Patera has the farthest javelin toss, a mark of 117-5. Brandy Thomas has a personal-best 98-7 and Jeri Matter has a mark of 97-3.
Maureen Porter and Cara Holmquist are the only pole vaulters, both with marks of seven feet, six inches.
Freshmen Sara Suek (high jump), Brooke Schwan (100 and 300 hurdles, triple jump, high jump), Karla McCormick (100 and 300 hurdles), Sherry Winchell (400, triple jump, 1,600-meter relay), and Ashley Tilleman (100 and 300 hurdles) will also be at the meet.
"We have to have kids get fifth- and sixth-place points," Ita said. "We need them to place where you don't expect it."
Last season, the both the boys and girls placed second at divisional. Belgrade swept both sides.