Pony girls depth overcomes Belgrade star's dominating performance
The Havre Blue Pony girls used teamwork, tenacity and depth to offset the five-event sweep of Belgrade super junior Kalindra McFadden and capture the Central A Divisional track and field title in weekend action at the Havre Middle School track.
In the process, Havre qualified 11 girls for two-day the Class A state track and field championships that begin Friday morning in Missoula.
The Ponies scored 115 team points followed by Belgrade with 108 and Anaconda with 81.
Havre's only individual firsts came from Alicia Overcast in the 400-meter run Friday and the 300-meter hurdles Saturday. She also anchored the winning 400-meter relay team to get the meet going Saturday morning. Joining her on that team were multiple point-getters Brooke Schwan, Rylee O'Connell and Kelsey Smith.
Overcast dominated two of her three specialties, winning each by more than a full second. She took the 400 meters in 62.27 seconds and the hurdles in 49.04 seconds.
Overcast had to settle for a close second in the 800 meters in a narrow finish with Anaconda's Christina Laslovich. Laslovich was timed at 2:29.50 seconds while Overcast was clocked at 2:29.54, less than half a second back.
Helping Havre get off to a 33-point start Friday, good for second place going into Saturday's finals, were pole vaulters Sherry Winchell with a second-place finish at 8 feet 6 inches and Smith, who finished fourth with a leap of 8 feet.
A trio of Havre's distance specialists scored 13 points in the 1,600-meter run and qualified for the state meet. Mandy Nystrom grabbed second place with a 5:51.80 seconds, followed by Kelsey Malsam in fourth at 6:01.08 and McKayla Patterson in sixth at 6:08.62.
"It was a surprise for me," head coach John Ita said of his team's win. "I kind of figured out the points and thought it would be a ballgame, one or two points. I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see Belgrade on the podium (at State). McFadden will run those relays and they'll be that much tougher. Belgrade is going to be very formidable when they get to state. That McFadden girl gives them a lot of options.
"It was really the distance girls that put us over the top. We were a little bit down in the long jump and triple jump this year, but they're coming."
Havre was shut out in the shot put, long jump and javelin on Friday.
The Ponies got off to a great start in gusting wind conditions on Saturday with the win in the short relay and two places in the high jump. Schwan gave McFadden a bit of a scare in the high jump when she cleared 5 feet after McFadden's miss on her first attempt. McFadden came back to clear that height and to put the competition away at 5-2, a height Schwan looked to be able to clear early in the competition but eluded her in hree attempts. Havre's Casea Pollington cleared 4-8 with plenty of room to spare to grab sixth.
McFadden, who also won the 100, 200 and 100 hurdles, appeared to have the only record-breaking performance over the weekend when she sailed 37-8 in the triple jump. However, that record was disallowed because of a trailing wind.
Alexa Lipp took fourth in the triple jump and earned a trip to state with a mark of 32-8 while Schwan came in a close fifth at 32-7.
Schwan continued to provide needed points for Havre in the 100-meter hurdles, where she came in fourth with a time of 16.92 seconds.
Havre's distance trio returned to form on Saturday scoring 14 points in the 3,200-meter run. Browning's distance ace, Wasewi Shawl, set fire to the track and burned the field with a blistering time of 11:41.66, but Havre grabbed the most points in the race. Nystrom again led the Havre charge, grabbing second place with a time of 12:39.28, followed by Malsam in fourth at 12:50.09 and Patterson in fifth at 13:03.64.
Havre's 1,600-meter relay team finished out the day with a strong second place finish to ensure the overall meet victory. The team of Alexa Lipp, Alicia Overcast, Sherry Winchell and Mandy Nystrom was clocked in 4:15.89 seconds, three seconds behind Anaconda and five seconds ahead of Belgrade.