GREAT FALLS — The rivalry between Broadus’ Kris Noble and Jordan’s Connor Murnion reached its apex Saturday during the State C track and field meet at Memorial Stadium. And similar to many of their previous battles, each came away a winner.
But that wasn’t much of a consolation for either sprinter.
Noble won the 100-meter title with a time of 11.26, edging Murnion, who finished in 11.32. But Murnion came back later and won the 200 in 22.65.
It kept with the script the juniors have followed all season. At the District 4C meet two weeks ago, Murnion won the 100 ahead of Noble. But Noble then captured the 200 ahead of Murnion. And last week at the Southern C divisionals, they traded places again.
“Since districts we’ve been going back and forth,” said Murnion, who added that the runners in the 200 “were fighting the whole way up until the last 10 meters and I finally pulled away from them. I was pretty mad from the 100. Noble beat me and it made me so dang mad. It got me fired up.”
Murnion and his brother Kelly were Jordan’s only competitors at state; they managed to place third in the boys standings with 44 points. Charlo won the boys title with 53½ points, while Belt came in second with 52.
On the girls side, Seeley-Swan won the team crown with 62 points, 10 points ahead of West Yellowstone, which was also a two-person team. North Star took third with 47 points.
The West Yellowstone sophomore duo of Bailee Parker and Jewlz Collins was, in fact, tied with Seeley-Swan going into the day’s final event. But the Blackhawks were pushed over the top by winning the 1,600-meter relay in record fashion.
Parker ended up sweeping the distance races while Collins took first in the 400 and the 100-meter hurdles. She placed fifth in the 100.
Parker’s time of 11:03.89 in the 3,200 established a new Class C record. It was Parker’s second record set over the weekend: She also claimed the 1,600-meter mark for Class C on Friday.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” Parker said of the two-person effort. “We worked our butts off in practice this whole season, so I think we really deserved it.”
Added Collins: “Maybe if I could have placed a little bit better in the 100 … but having another person here would have definitely taken some of the pressure off.”
Park City sprinter Brianna Gray wasn’t one to deconstruct her performance in the sprints on Saturday. She instead chose to be thankful for the ability to simply compete.
Gray missed time earlier this season with a bout of mononucleosis, and still wasn’t 100 percent at the state meet. But she came away a champion while defending her 200 meters title from a year ago. And that was just a bonus, since she said she was not disappointed for missing out on a second consecutive 100-meter crown.
“I felt a little weak. I just didn’t feel right, and I didn’t run my fastest time,” Gray said of her runner-up showing in the 100. “But in the 200, I was just driven. I wanted that race. I wanted to defend at least one title.”
Gray’s time in the 200 was 25.93. She was able to squeak out the victory ahead of Drummond’s Claire Fickler (25.96), who had beaten her in the 100.
Gray, a senior, is set to join the track and field program at Montana State Billings.
David Manning said he’s made a habit of saving his best throw for last.
The Culbertson senior followed through on that promise, heaving his personal-best throw of 51 feet, 4½ inches on his final attempt in the boys shot put. Manning trailed Derek Wham of Ennis as he stepped into the ring for his final throw, which ultimately gave him back-to-back championships in the event.
“I was like, ‘It’s gonna be a throwdown.’ I’ve got one (throw) left, and I know I’ve got one left in me,” Manning said graciously. “I thought I was maybe going to get a 50, maybe. I didn’t think I was going to get a 51. I’m just so thankful.”
• Seeley-Swan’s girls left no doubt about their fate in the mile relay.
The quartet of Paige Holmes, Alex Bohlman, Marge Henrekin and KeAnna Conley finished way ahead of the pack in 4:06.25, which broke a 19-year old Class C record and gave the Blackhawks the points they needed to win their seventh team title.
• Chance Hyatt of Bainville doubled his distance fun on Saturday — a day after winning the 3,200 meters — with a victory in the mile. Hyatt ran the race in a time of 4:34.95, which bested the next-best finisher by nearly two seconds.
Hyatt is a two-time cross country state champion, but the distance medals he won at the state track meet are his first.
— The Gazette’s Slim Kimmel contributed to this report