By Jason Shoot
BILLINGS Tuff Harris can go back to being called Chester now.
Sure, the Colstrip junior did dethrone Havre's Steve Heberly as Class A state champion in the 100 at MetraPark, but it was their rematch in the 200 Blue Ponies fans will care to remember.
Harris, undefeated in both the 100 and 200 the entire season, led Heberly in the 200 by half a stride entering the second half of the race.
But Tuff, whose first name is actually Chester but earned that nickname after surviving two bouts with pneumonia at the age of 1, was shown what tough was all about by the Blue Ponies' wiry sophomore.
Heberly pulled even with Harris with 70 meters left and staked a half-step lead for himself 20 meters later.
At that point, Harris stopped running at fall speed and straightened up, allowing Heberly to pull away for the victory in a blazing 22.11 seconds. Harris followed in second with a 22.29.
"Once I got ahead, it didn't seem like he tried to fight back," Heberly said.
That turned out to be quite a shock for Heberly, who said, "I don't know how I won. I just wanted to make sure he didn't get too far ahead of me."
Havre coach John Ita said Harris tightened up after Heberly put the pressure on.
"We told Steve, At 30 meters if you keep it close and relax, you'll pull by that kid,'" Ita said.
That attitude was excusable after a fantastic performance by Harris in the 100, which he finished in 10.88 seconds just a day after setting an all-class record of 10.77 on Friday. Heberly was a stride slower in 10.94, a personal best.
"He's really quick out of the blocks," Heberly said. "It was pretty good for me; he was just better."
Heberly's victory was the lone win on Saturday for Havre, which entered the day with aspirations of hunting for a boys' team title, but instead settled for a tie for sixth place with Belgrade with 35 points.
Paced by Harris, Colstrip secured the boys' championship with 89 points. Butte Central was second with 54 and Whitefish third with 52.
Havre's 400 relay team won its heat in prelims Friday, but it was unable to overcome an early deficit in a tight third-place finish.
Colstrip, anchored by Harris, was able to squeeze out a win by just one-hundredth of a second over Lewistown, which was second with a time of 43.24. Havre followed closely with a 43.39.
"They ran the same time they did last year when they won the state title," Ita said. "It was real tough this year."
The Ponies also won their heat Friday in the 1,600 relay, but could not match the same result Saturday amid temperatures in the mid-90s.
Whitefish blew away the field in a four-second win and time of 3:25.02, and Havre finished 5 1/2 seconds back in a disappointing fourth-place finish (3:30.59).
Joe Roman placed third in the 800 with a time of 2:00.61, five seconds behind two-time champion Kevin O'Brien of Polson (1:55.80).
"(The pace) was too slow," Roman said. "I wanted to go three seconds faster."
Grant Roman, Joe's twin brother, finished sixth in the 400 with a 50.79. Billings Central's Jake Sienko won the event at 48.93.
Havre's girls placed 11th in the team standings with 17 points, well behind champion which finished with 85. Colstrip was second with 71 and Sidney third with 64.
Lashae Michels finished third in the long jump (16-11 3/4) and fourth in the triple jump (34-10 1/2).
Havre's 400 relay team was fourth in the event with a time of 51.31. Anaconda (50.82) won the event with a narrow victory over Miles City (50.83).
"Every person in the relay ran well, but it was just the handoffs," Havre's Alyssa Matter said. "If the handoffs went as well as last weekend at divisionals, we would have won."
Jayla McPherson was fifth in the discus, just a little more than six feet shy of a state title. Her throw of 111 feet, 7 inches was short of Libby's Katie Kroeger, who totaled 117-11.
Jen Peterson, the Class A state champ in the 3,200 last year, was well short of that achievement this year. She placed sixth in the event with a time of 12:08.12, nearly 25 seconds slower than Colstrip's Jesse Ballew, who won the race with an 11:43.83.