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Local track teams take their shot at glory

 

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Cody Welsh of Turner, pictured left and Garrett Diekhans of Fort Benton, pictured right, will each head to the Class C state track meet this weekend in Great Falls to represent their respective schools. Welsh is part of a Turner team that is hoping to bring home its first trophy ever in Class C state track. Follow the Havre Daily News on Twitter for live coverage Saturday.

It has been a historic season for a number of track teams within the District 9C and this weekend, at the Class C state track meet, it should continue for a number of local teams and athletes.

One of the biggest stories will be the Fort Benton girls, who will be looking to repeat as Class C state champions. The Longhorns scored 72 points a season ago, edging out Manhattan Christian, which scored 56.5. Fort Benton will begin its title defense Friday in Great Falls at Memorial Stadium. The combined meet, which features Class AA and Class C, will conclude Saturday. Field events will start at 9 a.m. Running events will be each day at 10:30 a.m. That's the same schedule for both days.

While the Longhorns are one of the deepest teams in the state, a majority of their points come from a few standouts led by Leah Gannon and Nicole Axtman. Gannon will participate in five events for the Longhorns at state, running in the 400-meter dash, the 800, the 400 relay and the 1,600 relay. She will also compete in the long jump. Axtman will also look to add points in the jumping events, particularly in the triple jump. Maddy Thompson, a state champion in the 100 a season ago, also finished second in multiple events at state in 2017. She has been hampered by injury this season, but will compete at state and should have a chance to contribute points along with Abby Clark, McKenzie Clark and Aspen Giese.

In addition to Fort Benton, a number of other 9C competitors will head to Great Falls for state track and one with a good chance to find the podium is Chinook's Megan Molyneaux, who finished second the 200 last season. Another local track athlete with a chance to shine this weekend is Harlem's L'Tia Lawrence, who was second in the 1,600 a season ago, will compete in both distance events in Laurel at the Class B state meet.

When it comes to the Class C girls, everyone is looking at Fort Benton as the favorite, so it would come as no surprise to see the Longhorns take home a trophy. However, on the boys side of things, two local teams, Turner and North Star will each be looking to bring home a trophy in boys state track for the first time.

The postseason has already been a memorable one for North Star, which won its fifth straight 9C championship and followed it up with a Northern C Divisional crown last week. It was the first divisional championship in boys athletics of any kind for the Knights, who will be looking for Dylan Miller, Devon Miller and Caden Rettig to carry them to the podium.

Dylan Miller will participate in the 100, 200 and 400, along with his brother Devon, who will run in both the 100 and the 200 alongside him. Devon is also qualified in all three throwing events, the discus, shot put and javelin, which he won at the Northern C. Rettig is also going to compete in a bevy of events. He will be in the long jump, after winning a divisional title at the Northern C in the event, and the triple jump, where he finished third to Dylan Miller. He will also participate in the pole vault and 200 meters.

While the Knights hope to contend for a trophy with their sheer number of events, the Turner Tornadoes should be in the mix thanks to its two standouts Eddie Harmon and Cody Welsh. Harmon, of course, was the Class C state champion in the 800 last season and is also qualified in the 100, 200 and 400. Welsh, on the other hand, will compete in three events, including both hurdles after winning the 110 and 300 hurdles at the Northern C. The other event is the high jump. Welsh finished second there at the Northern C also.

The Tornadoes are projected to be in the hunt, according to Montanatrack.com, a website that covers track and field in Montana extensively at the high school level. It has Turner projected to get 36 points, but also shows the Tornadoes well within striking distance for a top-three finish. North Star could also find its way into the mix if the Millers and Rettig can place in enough events. The Tornadoes are also projected for that amount of points without figuring in the 800 for Harmon, which he enters as the defending state champ. The Tornadoes could also score points in the short relay, another event both Welsh and Harmon run in for Turner.

"It has felt great to bring home a trophy and districts and divisionals," Harmon said. "It looks like from the trophy case, that was the first divisional track trophy that Turner has ever had. Our goal is to bring home another at state and we are going to do our best to try and make that happen."

Chinook and the Fort Benton boys are two other teams that could score points in Great Falls. Cord Schneider will have a chance for the Sugarbeeters in the throwing events, as will Trajan Hannum in the distance events for Chinook. Garrett Diekhans will lead the way for the Longhorns, he will participate in the 110 hurdles and the triple jump. Nick Marais is also qualified in all three jumping events, along with Damon Bird and Logan Giles who will run distance. Box Elder and Chester-Joplin-Inverness will also have athletes in attendance.

The Class C state track meet gets underway Friday morning in Great Falls at Memorial Stadium. It will conclude Saturday with the field events starting at 9:30 a.m., and the running events beginning at 10:30 a.m

 

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