Darren Hecker acknowledges that distance runners are cut from a different cloth. Some of them run out of enjoyment, others out of necessity. For Hecker, it's a bit of both.
“I tried the sprints kind of early on and realized I wasn’t too good at them,” the Big Timber senior ho-hummed between events at the Big Timber-Columbus Invitational last week. “I went to distances because I had ran cross country my freshman year. And then distances just started clicking and things started happening.”
Now, Hecker is putting himself through grueling five-event meets. He runs the 400-, 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter races along with a leg on the 1,600 relay.
At the Big Timber-Columbus meet, Hecker finished first in all five events. Teammates Walker LaVoy (100 and 200), Gabe McCauley (110 and 300 hurdles), Destan Miller (triple jump) and Cade Wessell (discus) also grabbed first-place finishes to help the Herders to an easy team victory at the meet that featured 10 teams.
“We’re a good team, the best team I’ve had in my high school career,” said Hecker, who seems more at ease talking about his team’s accomplishments than his personal accolades.
“I want to pick up my part of the deal and score points first,” he continued, “so that the other kids can come through and score points to put together a good team showing.”
Hecker does his part. He earned three medals at last year’s state meet -- a third-place finish in the 800 ranking as his best -- and is near the top of the Class B deep lists this year. The Herders’ long relay team has the fastest mark in the class, too, according to montanatrack.com.
“I feel really good,” said Hecker, who will run track and cross county at Carroll College next fall. “I didn’t expect to be even close to where I am right now and being able to run five events a day, so (I'm) real surprised by myself. But I like it.”
Senior girls dominating with depth
The Billings Senior girls cruised to the team victory at last week’s Billings Invitational, which should come as no surprise. Morgan Sulser, Christina Aragon and Taylor Mims are still winning events for the Broncs.
Senior earns its headlines on the track -- and for good reason -- but the Broncs are dominating opposing teams with their depth, which is especially impressive in the field events. Ten girls beyond Senior’s “Big Three” scored points at the Billings Invite.
Hannah Nessan took first in the discus and third in the shot put. Madison Cicierski took third and sixth in those events, while Jace Henderson added fifth- and second-place finishes.
Sequerah Alleyne and Olivia Romei placed in the high jump, and Cierra Powell took third in both the long and triple jumps.
Skyview boys putting together impressive results
Billings Skyview hurdler Taylor Trollope said he expected the point output the Falcons are getting on the track. But that doesn’t mean the Falcons aren’t turning some heads with their recent performances.
Trollope won the 110 hurdles at the Billings Invite and finished second in the 300 hurdles behind teammate Riley Barta, while Mason Carle won the 200-meter dash and placed second in the 100.
Tre’von Strong and Drake Schafer also scored points on the track, and Strong, Kam Kemmis, Trey Haidle, Tanner Beld, Trevor Hopf and Zack Zaccardi placed in field events.
Kendal Manuel, who also gives the Falcons points in the jumps, missed the meet.
Lewistown duo leading the Class A sprints
Lewistown sprinters Brock Butcher and Jaree Mane have the top 100-meter dash times in Class A this season.
Butcher ran the 100 in 11.26 seconds earlier this season at Skyview, putting him just ahead of Mick Paffhausen of Dillon. Paffhausen’s best time this season is an 11.3.
Butcher also has the second-fastest Class A time in the 400 behind Stevensville’s Jadin Casey.
Mane leads the Class A girls with a 12.66 time in the 100, which she also ran at Skyview. Sadi Henderson of Corvallis, who took second at the state meet last year behind Marlow Schulz of Whitefish, has the next fastest mark.
Schulz, who is the defending state champion in the 100, 200 and 400, recorded a 12.9-second 100 and 26.37-second 200 on Tuesday, according to Fritz Neighbor of the Missoulian. Schulz will run in college at St. John’s University in New York.