By Kim Staudinger
For a tiny Class C school of about 50 students, KG is becoming an unstoppable force in track and field.
The KouGars outran, outjumped and outhrew all their opponents all season long. That mastery led Saturday to KG's fourth-straight state title a record for a Class C boys track team.
The Harlowton girls team won its fifth consecutive state title this year, which set an all-class record.
"It's just great," junior high-jump champion Casey Crites said. "There were some doubts lately but we proved everybody wrong. We're from such a small town, it's nice to keep the tradition here."
Crites' older brother, Rhett, was on the first championship team four seasons ago. This was Casey Crites' second state title.
KG coach Butch Marshall said he knew his team had a good chance to come away with the title. But the margin of victory 59 points was not expected. The 88 points were also the most the KouGars had scored in their run.
"That was very surprising," he said. " we did what we were supposed to do and some other teams had some misfortune that hurt them."
Superior's Cody Feasel, who had top times in the 200- and 400-meter dash and also a top distance in the triple jump, came down with an intestinal virus and did not place.
Scobey's Kevin McElvaney was disqualified in the 300-meter hurdles, and Arlee's Brian Bachmeyer also did not compete, which allowed the KouGars to steal some points.
"We really had no misfortune. Everything went our way, which was nice. Last year we had some things that went wrong." Marshall said.
After McElvaney's disqualification in the hurdles, and Robbie Gomke and Tel Sterner earned nine points in the shot put Saturday morning, Marshall knew the title was KG's.
Crites defended his high jump title with a jump of 6 feet, 4 inches and also raced to second-place finishes in the 100- and 200-meter dash and placed second in the long jump.
"Casey had a phenominal weekend," Marshall said.
Said Crites: "It was a lot of fun. Every year it's just a lot of fun."
Along with Crites, teammate Aaron Smith defended his title in the long runs. Smith won both the 1600- and 3200-meter runs.
Roger Larson, who battled a head cold hroughout the week and into the weekend, came in second place in the 400, fifth in the 100 and third in the triple jump. Sterner grabbed two sixth-place finishes in the shot put and discus, and Gomke placed second in the shot put and Thomas Marshall fifth in the 300-meter hurdles. KG's 1600-meter relay team also added a third-place finish.
"We had some phenominal performances," Marshall said. "I'm very pleased. The kids came and performed like we asked them to. Their hard work and dedication to track and field paid off."
On the girls' side, Kim Berg continued to dazzle, placing first in the javelin. Berg's throw of 140 feet 3 inches was not her best on the season but was solid enough to earn her a new state all-class record for the modified javelin model. Berg's throw topped all others from Class AA, A and B for the record.
Chester's Michele VanDyke also defended her high jump title as she cleared 5 feet 6 inches.
VanDyke and Berg each scored the only points for their respective teams.