LAUREL — Pipi Eitel and Jacob Grinwis both agree their friendship is like brother and sister.
And judging by their performances at this year's State A track and field meet, it's tough to believe the two aren't actually related.
The Belgrade duo combined for four first-places finishes at the Laurel Sports Complex on Friday. Grinwis got the winning started, winning the 800 in 1:54.10. Eitel then set a Class A state record in the 1,600, cruising to a 4:57.07 and breaking the old mark of 5:05.78 set in 1986 by Miles City's Kathleen Monaghan.
Grinwis then earned a win in the 400, followed by a 400 win from Eitel.
Four races. Four golds.
"It's awesome," Eitel said after her 400. "Having Jacob as a teammate has upped my game and everyone else's game. He's just so competitive and so mentally ready that it makes you want to (succeed) too."
Eitel and Grinwis's performances helped put the Panthers boys and girls teams in second place. Sidney leads on the boys side thanks in large part to Garrison Hughes' big win in the pole vault, and Frenchtown leads the girls with co-favorite and six-time defending state champion Corvallis in third.
Eitel said the two do their easier runs together during the track season, and even more so in cross country.
And of course, cheering each other on when it's showtime.
"I cheer for him in all of his races, and I really want him to do well, and it's awesome when he PR's (personal record), and when he does it for me," she said. "Jacob's like a brother to me."
The training together and friendship has paid dividends. After the two seniors finish their final high school track meet, Eitel will be headed to Flagstaff, Arizona, to run for Northern Arizona and Grinwis will run for Boise State.
"She's like my sister honestly," Grinwis said. "Her and I, ever since middle school, have both been kind of the runners of Belgrade. Her and I were the ones that knew we both wanted to go on and do collegiate track.
"It was her and I last winter, up in our gym, running on treadmills. It was her and I, preseason this year doing workouts, and now it's her and I now being successful and it's awesome to share it with her."
And Grinwis thought he'd get in trouble cheering for her this meet. As he was warming up, he was running around the infield of the track cheering her on and Grinwis said he'd thought he'd get in trouble with an official.
"I can't not cheer for her," he said. "She supports me and I support her."
Except in one situation.
"Her and I had a tempo workout at one of our meets in Livingston, and we both ran the two-mile," he said. "We both ran the two as a workout, and I lapped her so I could give her some crap."
On the field side, Sidney's Garrison Hughes only needed three vaults: One to win the state championship, one to clear 15 feet, and one to break the Class A state record.
In a matter of minutes, his work was done.
The Sidney junior won his second straight pole vaulting state title, vaulting 16 feet, a whole foot higher than when he won it a year ago.
"It's a great feeling," he said. "I knew this year I should be able to at least get the Class A record, and it was nice to get that 15-7 bar out of the way and then 16. I was excited about that bar because that's the second time I've jumped (16) outdoors. I was real close at 16-5 and it would've been nice to have that but I'll get it next year."
Hughes tried for the all-class record of 16-4, almost vaulting 16-5 on his final attempt as the fans and athletes watching slow-clapped his approach.
He couldn't quite get it, but said it was fun.
"You really just have to have fun with this sport because if you get down on yourself you'll start to think negatively and everything will go negative," he said. "I was thinking today is going to be a good day and it was."
Earlier in the day, Hughes' younger brother, sophomore Carter, won the shot put with a toss of 54-02.
The Hughes were instrumental in the Sidney boys lead after the first day.
"It was good, I was trying to put it away early and get a good throw in," Carter, who broke Sidney's shot put record with the throw, said. "It just gives me a little more confidence going into tomorrow.
"I could tell once it came off that it was going to be a good throw."
Big brother was proud too.
"It's really cool," Garrison said. "We really love track in our family so it was really cool to see him finally come through and be a state champion because he's worked super hard all season. So I was really proud of him, and it's nice to have a brother that's a state champ too."
For the girls, Frenchtown junior Emilie Hinrichs helped led the way with a win in the high jump and a fourth-place finish in the shot put. Her teammate, Adeline Richardson, won that same event.
Hinrichs overcame adversity on her way to the title. She won the event at 5-5, after being on her final leap at both 5-2 and 5-4.
"I think I just tried to change my mentality a little bit," she said. "Be a little more aggressive, have a little more confidence when I jumped, and I think that made all the difference."
Was she nervous?
"Oh absolutely," she said, laughing. "It's always a little nerve-racking when you don't know if you're going to make it to the next height."
Isaiah Renner helped put Laurel in the fourth spot on the boys side, winning the lone state championship for the Locomotives, in the long jump. The Locomotives are five points behind third place Columbia Falls.
Renner, a senior, just picked up long jump this year.
"It feels great," he said. "It was wild, having just started this year. But I'm pretty pumped right now.
"Last year I didn't get to compete because I kind of hurt my back but it feels good to go out and compete and go out with a bang."
Other boys champions included Sage Wanner of Columbia Falls in the 3,200 and Ridge Albright from Corvallis in the high jump. On the girls side, Butte Central's Rachael McGree won the long jump and Mariah Hinson of Stevensville in the javelin.