By Tiffany L. Rehbein
We are the champions, my friend. We'll keep on fighting until the end. No time for losing, 'cause we are the champions of the world.
With lyrics like that, the classic rock band Queen might know the KG KouGars boys' track team.
Although the KouGars are not the champions of the world, they are the champions the District 9C, the Northern Division, and they are the defending State Class C champion in track and field.
The KouGars, who qualified at least one athlete per event for this year's state meet, are on track for another title.
"We definitely wanted to send a lot of kids to state," KG track coach Paul Anderson said.
The KouGars qualified 12 boys, who racked up 151.5 points at the divisional meet, and one girl for state. The meet will be held Friday and Saturday at Bozeman.
Although the KouGars are not specialists in one single event, Anderson said, the boys are strong in all events.
"We are very deep," he said.
The boys captured the most points at divisional in the 110-meter hurdles and the 1,600 meters.
Justin Antonich and Jared Miller placed 2-3 in the hurdles, while Aaron Smith and Eric Hanson placed 2-3 in the 1,600.
Antonich and Miller both set season-best times of 15.32 and 15.79, respectively.
Park City's Blake Barnes and Centerville's Mike Mayernick are fine hurdlers with times of 14.99 and 15.1, respectively.
Antonich has a season-best time of 15.1 in the race.
Smith and Hanson set personal-best times of 4:34.9 and 4:46.72 in the 1,600 at divisional.
Smith, a sophomore, is a heavy favorite in the 3,200 meters, where he and Northern Division rival Craig Widhalm of Belt will battle.
At divisional, Widhalm edged Smith in the 3,200 (9:47.47 vs. 9:48.71). However, at the State C cross country championships last fall, Smith was the victor, capturing the individual gold medal on the 3.1-mile course.
The 800 meters and triple jump were also productive for the KouGars at the divisional meet.
Hanson, a returning state placer, won the 800 meters with a time of 2:02.8. Tyler Kapperud placed fifth in the event.
Last season, Hanson placed third in the 1,600 with a time of 4:32.64.
The 800 meters could see a good race between Hanson and Skyler Perry of Charlo, who runs the fastest time in the Class C (1:56.3).
Joey Stuart of KG placed first in the triple jump with a leap of 43-7 3/4. Stuart's competition could stem from Ryegate's Joseph Reiter, whose longest jump is 44 feet, seven inches.
KG's Roger Larson placed fifth in the triple jump. Larson also qualified in the 400 meters with a time of 52.65 at divisional.
Antonich and Stuart teamed in the 300-meter hurdles and placed fourth-second in the event at divisional.
Antonich also qualified in the javelin and Stuart in the long jump and triple jump.
Eric Marshall, who set a meet record at districts in the 100 meters, qualified in both the 100 and 200 meters.
Chad Gluhm of Park City and Kyle Carlson of Centerville pose the strongest sprinters.
Carlson placed first at divisional with a time of 11.0 in the 100.
Gluhm will also be pulling for the Park City team, who placed second overall last year with 60 points, and who looks to challenge the KouGars this season. KG won the title last year with 72 points.
In the throwing events, Robbie Gomke will compete in the shot put and Tel Sterner in the discus.
The KG relays are powerful and the 400-meter relay, although boasting different athletes, will try to improve on last year's third-place finish at state.
Chester's Jeff Graham qualified in the 200, 400, and 300-meter hurdles.
Last season, Graham placed third in the hurdle event (40.32) and fourth in the 400 meters (51.33).
At the Northern Divisional, Graham posted season-best times of 39.5 in the hurdles and 50.35 in the 400.
In the 300-meter hurdles, Graham will see a tight race with Park City's Barnes. Graham has a personal-best time of 39.5, while Barnes has run a 39.83.
Centerville's Carlson and Perry of Charlo pose some stiff competition in the 400.
Graham posted a personal-best time of 23.23 in the 200 meters.
Chester's Zeb Engstrom qualified in the 110-meter hurdles and Brian Schlepp will compete in the 110 hurdles.
Scott Riggin, Brent Clark, Colt Diemert, and Graham will run on the 400-meter relay team and Sean Weinert will join Riggin, Clark, and Graham on the long relay.
Last season, the Coyotes' 400-meter relay placed second with a time of 44.61.
KG boasts a fast time of 44.85 in the short relay this season, while Park City clocked in at 44.0 and West Yellowstone at 44.4.
Weinert will also compete in the 800 and Clark in the long jump.
Big Sandy's Lance Nelson and Mace Mangold also qualified for state. Nelson will compete in the pole vault, while Mangold will compete in the vault and javelin.
Mangold could be a gold medalist in the pole vault with a personal-best jump of 13-6.
Last season, Mangold placed second at 13-0 behind Rafe Espinoza of Arlee. This year, the competition is the same, with Espinoza also boasting a personal-best jump of 13-6.
The events are slated to begin at 10:30 a.m.