GREAT FALLS – Bainville's Chance Hyatt has won the past two Class C cross country championships, so he knows a thing or two about winning.
But he had never won a state track title. Until now.
Hyatt pulled away from the pack midway through the 3,200-meter run to grab top honors Friday at the Class C state track and field meet at Memorial Stadium. He finished in 10:05.83, trimming more than 53 seconds off his previous best time this season.
“I didn't get what I wanted, but it was definitely an improvement on last weekend and even my best this year,” Hyatt said. “I wanted to beat my personal record from last year, which is like a 9:40, but it is what it is.”
Melstone's Brayden Wacker stayed with Hyatt for the first three laps or so, but Hyatt – unbeknownst to him – gradually pulled away to win by more than 20 seconds. Box Elder's Will Ketchum placed second, followed by Belt's Harry Green and then Wacker.
“I didn't actually know that I had pulled away,” Hyatt said, “because I thought I heard footsteps, so I was still running pretty hard.”
Hyatt has the 1,600 on his Saturday schedule and has even higher hopes for that race. He's chasing the Class C state record of 4:19.02, which is six seconds better than his personal-best of 4:25. The all-class record is 4:13.29.
The key for Hyatt to capture the record is simple:
“Run really fast,” he laughed.
Parker finds her place
Bailee Parker started out running the 400-meter race as a freshman. In her words, she “wasn't very good at it,” so she took on the longer distances.
It looks like it was the right move for the West Yellowstone sophomore.
Parker set the Class C record in the 1,600, clocking a time of 5:01.75 on a warm, sunny day at Memorial Stadium.
“I was actually kind of surprised, because I don't run very well in the heat,” Parker said. “I really pushed myself.”
Parker, who won the 800 and 1,600 state titles as a freshman, was running alone for most of this year's race. Her closest competitor, Stephanie Robbins of Seeley-Swan, finished nearly 24 seconds behind her. Melstone's BreElle Wacker was third.
“It's definitely harder to get a better time when you don't have someone pushing you,” Parker admitted. “But my coaches will be telling times to me, and I just push myself. I really want to get a better time, so I tell myself to run faster. You just kind of block everybody else out and just run.”
Parker also has the fastest seed times in the 800 and 3,200, which run Saturday.
• West Yellowstone has the girls team lead after five events. Jewlz Collins also won the 400 for the Wolverines, who have 20 points. North Star is second with 18, just ahead of Seeley-Swan at 17.
• Through seven events, Ennis has a small lead over Belt, Charlo and Manhattan Christian in the boys team standings. The Mustangs got first-place finishes from Walker McKitrick in the pole vault (13 feet, 6 inches) and Derek Wham in the discus (171-4).
• In one of the closer races of the day, Manhattan Christian's David Keena took the crown in the 400. Keena raised his arms in victory as he crossed the finish line in 50.23 seconds, just ahead of Belt's Parker McCafferty and Jordan's Kelly Murnion.
• If the prelims are any indication, the boys 100- and 200-meter dashes are going to live up the pre-meet hype. Jordan's Connor Murnion has the fastest seed time in both, but the other nine finalists in the 100 all qualified within .29 seconds of Murnion's 11.28 time.
• Brianna Gray of Park City positioned herself to repeat as state champion in the 100 and 200. Gray easily recorded the top qualifying mark in each sprint Friday, running the 100 in 12.72 seconds and the 200 in 25.89.