LAUREL — Alex Veltkamp withdrew from running in the 1,600 meters to help her team score more points in another event.
But the 400 meters?
There she had some unfinished business.
The long Manhattan Christian junior got the 400 title she wanted and added the long jump championship during the first day of the Class C State Track and Field meet at the Laurel Sports Complex on a cloudy Friday afternoon.
Veltkamp will get an opportunity to defend her 800 title on Saturday.
Her two wins helped the Eagles take an early lead on Fort Benton in the team standings. Manhattan Christian has 34.33 points, while Fort Benton has 32.
Darby, led by winners Evan Duggan (3,200) and John Beckers (javelin), leads a tightly-bunched field with 20 points. Belt and Ennis each follow with 18. There are 11 teams with 10 points or more.
Other girls state champions Friday were: Kaitlyn Bird, Fort Benton, 1,600; Jessica Thompson, Plains, discus; Cera Strumpfer, Seeley Swan, pole vault.
Other boys winners were: Mark Estes, Drummond, 400; Eddie Harmon, Turner, 800; Garrett Greslin, Broadus, long jump; Ty Morgan, Ennis, discus; Lincoln Young, Manhattan Christian, pole vault.
Estes is also the top seed in the 100 and 200.
A year ago, Veltkamp false started out of the 400, one of the events where she was one of the favorites.
“It was devastating,” she said. “It just motivated me to work harder in the offseason. It made me mentally tougher.”
Veltkamp wouldn’t let memories of last spring slow her this year. “I had to put all that (false starting) out of my mind and just focus on my race,” she said. "To win this, the 400, to get some revenge, is very exciting."
Veltkamp easily won the second heat with a time of 57.9 seconds, almost a full second ahead of runner-up Zoe Delaney of Winnett-Grass Range.
“You can’t base your race on anybody else,” explained Veltkamp. “You just have to go all out.”
She had already competed in the long jump prelims before winning the 400. Veltkamp returned to the long jump finals where she had an effort of 17-feet, 2-inches to win her second gold medal of the day.
Earlier in the day she withdrew from the 1,600 to focus on the jumping event.
“My coach and I discussed it,” Veltkamp said. “It was a chance to get more points for the team in the long jump and on fresh legs. I knew it was a good one as soon as I landed. I was anxious to hear the numbers he (the long jump official) said. This is exciting.”
Her previous long jump best was 16-5.75.
Young and Beckers only needed one official mark for their titles.
Young pole vaulted once, clearing 13-6 for his title, while Beckers unleashed a career-best throw of 185-10 on his first toss of the day.
Young, a junior, missed twice at 14-feet, had another pole snap and fouled on his last attempt.
“It is kind of weird,” he said of his day. “I was hoping to try and get the state record.”
Young cleared 15-4 at the Midland Roundtable Top 10 Meet in early May. The Class C record is 15-1 by Rafe Espinoza of Arlee in 2001.
“It’s not quite what I wanted,” said Young. “But I won a state championship, so I’m not complaining.”
Beckers had been throwing in the 170s since going 181 in the first meet of the season.
“It’s amazing,” he said of his state title. “It surprised me when it came out of my hand. I was hoping to get one out there. It’s a good way to go out.”
Greslin also had a career-best, going 21-9 on his second try to win the long jump.
“I just threw it out there, it felt good,” said the senior. “When I landed, I knew it was a good one. I didn’t look, I waited until they announced the number. I wanted the surprise.
“I was a little nervous. I had to wait and see how the other guys jumped. I was very surprised. I hadn’t jumped this far all year.”
In the day’s most physical race. Harmon tracked down early leader Kordell Carpenter of Denton on the final lap of the 800. The junior closed the gap down the final stretch and went past as Carpenter stumbled to the ground a few yards from the finish line.
“I think he leaned a little too early,” said Harmon, who also placed third in the 400. “I knew what kind of pace he ran and thought I could catch him with my kick at the end. About the 300-yard mark, I started moving.
“It was pretty much right near the end when I caught him. You go for it. It’s all you can do.”
Harmon won in 1:59.33, the only runner under two minutes. Only .49 seconds separated the 2-3-4 runners.
Bird followed the same game plan in the girls’ 1,600 but almost ran out of race.
The senior from Fort Benton passed Arlee’s Natalie Yocum in the final yards.
“I didn’t think I was going to catch her at the finish line,” said Bird. “I started to wonder, maybe I should have started my kick a little sooner.”
Bird won in 5:23.53, a 17-second improvement from her seed time. She beat Yocum by .25 seconds.
“I don’t know where it came from,” said Bird, who fell to her knees in tears while waiting to get a cup of water following the race. “I knew this was my last mile race for high school. I knew I had nothing to lose and had to go for it.
“It really didn’t him me until a couple of my teammates came up to congratulate me.”