What caught my eye: Athletes perform well under postseason pressure

Joliet’s Ry Olson soars over the high jump at the 2018 State B track and field meet in Laurel. (ALEC BOFINGER/MTN Sports)

District track meets have come and gone, and the high school track and field postseason fires up again on Thursday with divisional meets around the state.

The pressures of the postseason didn’t seem to bother some of the top athletes across the state, as several individuals improved upon state-qualifying marks.

Kalispell Glacier’s Evan Todd has been chasing Missoula Sentinel’s Rylan Ortt in the javelin all season. Todd unleashed a throw over the weekend that moved him into the nation’s top five and ahead of Ortt. Joliet standout Ry Olson became the first athlete this season to hit marks of 22 feet in the long jump and 44 feet in the triple jump.

A young star is beginning to shine bright in Helena, as Odessa Zentz continues to impress in her freshman season. Columbia Falls junior Angellica Street is threatening the all-class state record in the javelin. According to the Montana High School Association, Street uncorked the longest throw in Montana since the introduction of the new javelin in 2002.

State track meets are just more than two weeks away. Here are the athletes and storylines that caught my eye during the opening weekend of postseason high school track.

Boys

Class AA

  • Kalispell Glacier’s Evan Todd won the 2018 State AA javelin title by less than two feet over Missoula Sentinel’s Rylan Ortt. This year, though, Todd has been chasing Ortt, as Ortt was the first Montanan to throw more than 200 feet. Todd added his name to that list this weekend with a massive throw of 208 feet, 8 inches. Todd’s throw is tops in Montana and is currently No. 5 in the nation, according to www.athletic.net. Todd and Ortt will likely compete again at the Western AA divisional meet in Helena this weekend.
  • Elias Dewaters looks to be the favorite in Class AA in the long jump and triple jump. The Missoula Sentinel senior leads Class AA with a triple jump of 43-10, which he jumped back on April 13, but Dewaters now owns the top long jump in Class AA, too. He jumped 22-01 ¼ at the Greg Rice City Meet in Missoula. Dewaters is the only athlete in Class AA with a triple jump of 43 feet and a long jump of 22 feet.

Class A

  • Columbia Falls senior Drew Morgan had himself quite the day on May 9 in the Glacier/Columbia Falls dual. Morgan ran Class A’s No. 4 time in the 100-meter dash (11.24 seconds) and the No. 4 time in the 400-meter dash (50.95 seconds). Morgan is also No. 2 in the 200-meter dash, No. 4 in the javelin and runs on the Wildcats’ 400-meter relay team, which is leading Class A. Columbia Falls will likely lean heavily on Morgan to produce at the divisional and state meets in hopes of bringing home hardware.
  • Whitefish junior Josh Dudley finds himself atop the Class A pole vault performance list after his vault of 14-06 at the Nelson-Thomas ABC Track Meet in Polson. Dudley had a one-foot improvement upon his personal best, which he set seven days prior at the Archie Roe meet and has shown huge improvement from his season-opening vault of 10-02 on April 2. Dudley could be the athlete to take the pole vault title out of Sidney for the first time since 2015. Sidney’s Garrison Hughes won the event three consecutive times from 2016-18.

Class B

  • Joliet’s Ry Olson put himself in an exclusive group with his performance at the District 4B meet on May 10. Olson jumped a Class B-best 44-09 ½ in the triple jump and leads the No. 2 jumper by more than a foot and the No. 3 jumper by two feet. Olson is the only athlete in Montana this season with a triple jump of 44 feet and a long jump of 22 feet. His long jump of 22-01 leads Class B, too.
  • Manhattan has had a tradition of strong distance and middle-distance runners, and this year is no different. The Tigers have the top three times in the 800-meter run this season. Zak Meeker, who won the 2018 State B 3,200-meter run and placed second in the 1,600-meter run, leads the state, while teammates Wyatt Barney and Bryce Love are Nos. 2 and 3. Love placed second in the 800 at last year’s state meet and won the 1,600. Once again, Manhattan will rely heavily upon its distance runners in the postseason.

Class C

  • Fairview’s Josh Herron set a new District 2C meet record in the pole vault on May 7, as he cleared 13-07. Herron’s vault is tops in Class C by nearly a foot. Herron has also qualified for the State C meet in the high jump, where he has cleared 6-02 this season. Just a junior, Herron appears to be getting better and better as time passes.
  • Noxon’s Levi Brubaker is the defending State C champion in the triple jump, but he is looking to add a long jump title to his resume. Brubaker set a new personal best in the long jump with a leap of 21-01 ¾, which is the No. 3 mark in Class C this season. Brubaker already holds Class C’s best triple jump by more than two feet.

Girls

Class AA

  • Helena High freshman Odessa Zentz has been sensational all season long, but she was at her best during the Helena crosstown meet on May 7. Zentz set new season bests in the 100 and 400. Her time in the 100 is No. 7 in Class AA this season and the best for a freshman. Her time in the 400 is tops in Montana this year and leads Class AA by more than two seconds. Zentz is going to be a mainstay at the top of performance lists throughout her high school career.
  • The Class AA girls high jump looks like it could be anybody’s to win at this point. With Butte’s Anna Trudnowski and Bozeman’s Hannah Schonhoff both clearing 5-05 this weekend, four athletes have now hit that mark.

Class A

  • Columbia Falls junior Angellica Street is in rare air. Street threw the javelin 158-08, which is the farthest throw in Montana since the new javelin was introduced by the IAAF in 2002. Street already owns the State A javelin record at 147-07, but she looks set to shatter that mark at the State A meet in Laurel later this month. She likely has her sights set on the all-class record of 152-08 set by Colstrip’s Hailey Poole in 2016.
  • Dillon freshman Ainslee Shipman has burst onto the scene for the Beavers this year. Shipman was terrific at the Belgrade Senior Night meet on May 10, where she ran Class A-bests in both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles. Along with Tylia DeJohn in the 100 and 200, Dillon appears set to rack up points on the track at the State A meet.

Class B

  • Bigfork’s Jordan Nelson is coming on strong at the perfect time. Nelson ran season-best times in the 100, 200 and 400 at the Bigfork Invitational on May 11. Nelson is top five in all three events in Class B and is also on the Bigfork relay teams, which are among the best in Class B. Nelson ran on the Valkyries’ state title relay teams in 2018 and holds valuable experience in postseason track meets. Bigfork will lean heavily on Nelson during the divisional and state meets.
  • Manhattan’s Severson sisters had a big day at the District 5B meet. Olleca qualified for the State B meet in both the 100 and 300 hurdles, while her sister Madeline set a new Class B-best in the high jump at 5-01. With the Severson sisters coming on strong down the stretch, Manhattan will be looking for a trophy at the State B meet in Kalispell later this month.

Class C

  • West Yellowstone’s Averi Parker has moved to the top of Class C in the 3,200-meter run after winning the District 11C meet. Parker, whose older sister Bailey holds State C records in the 1,600 and 3,200, is trying to live up to the lofty expectations she’s had since entering high school. Averi is seeking her third consecutive State C title in the 3,200 and second consecutive in the 1,600. After seeing what Bailey did, don’t bet against Averi.
  • Seeley-Swan’s Klaire Kovatch looks like she’s going to run away with the State C discus title. Kovatch threw the discus 143-06 ½ at the District 13C meet in Missoula and now leads Class C by nearly 25 feet. Kovatch is just a sophomore, so the State C record of 154-11 by Leah Thompson of Plains in 2016 is something she’ll be striving for throughout the remainder of this season and her high school career.
Alec Bofinger

Alec Bofinger

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