Ponies chase Central A track and field titles
The Class A track and field season has come down to its final two weeks, and the most exciting place to be if for fans of track and field may be the Central A Divisional track meet, which gets under way Friday morning at the Havre Middle School track.
"I really think this will be an exciting meet for the fans," said Havre High head coach John Ita. "This meet will feature the two top sprinters in the state of Montana as well as a host of phenomenal athletes and possible state champions."
The two top sprinters that Ita is referring to are, of course, Havre Blue Pony sprinter Steve Heberly on the boys' side and Belgrade's Kalindra McFadden on the girls'. Both have the best 100 and 200 meter times in the state of Montana this season, regardless of classification.
"Steve is going to be very exciting to watch this weekend because we are entering him in five events," Ita said. "And McFadden is an amazing sprinter, but she is also ranked No. 1 in the 100 hurdles and the short relay along with the sprints. So the fans are going to be in for a real treat watching these two athletes."
Besides Heberly and McFadden, the entire meet should be very competitive. The Central A division consists of the Belgrade, Livingston, Butte Central, Browning, Lewistown, Anaconda, Dillon as well as the host Blue Ponies.
On the boys' side of things, Havre will be considered the overwhelming favorite when the meet begins on Friday. Havre has only finished second in one Class A meet this season and that second place finish came against Whitefish, which competes in the Western A division. However, despite a dominating regular season, Ita foresees some very good competition for his Blue Ponies at the divisional meet.
"I think the team race will come down to us having to beat two teams," Ita said. "Belgrade and Butte Central both have very strong teams so we kind of know what we have to do."
The Ponies are coming off of a full two weeks of rest. During that time Ita said that some of his boys have raised the level of their performance and should be ready to take control of their events this weekend. Ita believes that Anthony Bonavita has been performing extremely well in the high jump as of late and should be favored to capture that crown this weekend.
He also lists Eric Vosen and Grant Neuens as possible state qualifiers in the high jump as well. Others to watch this weekend include Kasey Barsotti and Jeff Sprinkle in the distance events, as well as Justin Kegel and Curt Leeds in the triple jump.
Another interesting Pony in the boys meet will be Scott Robinson according to Ita.
"We are going to try to qualify Scott Robinson in seven events for the state meet," Ita said. "We have added the javelin and the discuss to his list of events and he has been performing well in both. That should be very interesting."
While the boys meet may be a little more clear in the team race, Ita said the girls meet should be wide open.
"The girls team race should be between Havre, Anaconda and Dillon," Ita said. Belgrade is also strong, but I think that Dillon and Anaconda will challenge us the most because they are very solid in the same events that we are strong in.
"I think the girls meet will be decided by the team that can pick up the most points in events where they are not typically as strong."
The key to Havre's success this weekend will be getting all the points that they normally get from girls like Alicia Overcast and Brooke Schwan.
"For us to be successful we have to get the points from our top athletes," Ita said. "But we will also have to make sure that Rylee O'Connell gets us points against McFadden.
"I also think the meet for us could come down to how we do in the distances," Ita added. "Our distance girls are all ranked high in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters, and if we place a lot of them that could decide things for us."
One thing both the Havre boys and girls teams have on their side will be rest. And while there is no proven home field advantage in track and field, Ita did admit that being at home for divisionals definitely works to his teams advantage.
As for the meet itself, all qualifying heats in field and running events will be held and completed on Friday afternoon. Finals in all events will begin Saturday morning and run through Saturday afternoon.
"This meet should move fairly quickly," Ita said. "Some of the school's total numbers are down a little this year so we are expecting the events to go pretty fast."
The events get under way Friday at 2:00 p.m. Saturday's finals will begin at 10:00 a.m.
Admission to the Central A track meet will be $4 for adults and $3 for students. Those prices will be for a one day pass. Schedules of events can also be obtained at the Havre Middle School track on Friday afternoon.