GREAT FALLS — Damien White thought it would take a jump of 22 feet to win the Class AA boys long jump Friday at the state track and field meet at Memorial Stadium.
So that’s where he set his goal entering the meet. It didn’t matter that White’s previous personal-best jump was 20-10.
“I was hoping for 22,” the Billings Senior senior said. “I didn’t hit that mark, but, hey, 21-8 is awesome … PR nonetheless, so I’m happy.”
White officially won the event with a mark of 21-8 ½ on his final attempt, but he was in the lead most of the way after a jump of 21-2 ½ in the preliminary rounds. Helena Capital’s Kyle Nickol tied that jump in the finals.
Nickol entered the meet as the favorite, having jumped 21-11, the best mark in the state this season, at the Western AA divisional meet last week.
“I was definitely nervous,” White said of the final jump. “I knew I had to pull something out, so I just ran as fast as I could and hoped for the best.
“It feels awesome. I’m extremely happy.”
Billings West’s Jory Abelman placed fourth in the event, jumping 20-10.
Drive for 5
The Senior girls are chasing their fifth consecutive team title at this weekend’s state meet.
So far, so good.
“I think we’re just coming out here to try to do the best we can and see what happens for our team,” said Christina Aragon, who won the 1,600-meter run in 4:56.16. “Everyone’s coming out trying to do the best for themselves, and hopefully we put it all together and have a really good meet.”
Taylor Mims was the first Bronc to win an individual state trophy, earning the title in the high jump by clearing the bar at 5-5. Mims also won the high jump last year.
Aragon, who runs with a brace on her left elbow after dislocating and breaking it at a gymnastics meet a few weeks ago, defended her 1,600 title by pulling away from Bozeman’s Caroline Hardin on the final lap. Her 4:56.16 is the best time she’s ran in Montana. Aragon said she has an out-of-state 4:53 to her credit.
“I’m honestly really happy with that,” the sophomore said. “The fastest I ran in state this year was like a 4:59, so that’s kind of a PR, I guess.”
Aragon also won the 400 in 56.72, edging Helena’s Carly Smiedala by .02 seconds.
Senior has 37 team points to lead the girls standings after six events. Bozeman is in second with 26.
On the boys side, Helena leads with 44 points, followed by Missoula Hellgate (31) and Helena Capital (23).
• Brett Dringman cleared 14-6 in the boys pole vault to give West its first win of the meet. The five placers behind Dringman all cleared 14-0, with Helena’s Chase Smith getting second place on attempts. The pole vault was initially scheduled for Saturday, but officials moved it to Friday due to rain in the forecast.
• West shot putter Michael Quesenberry scratched on all three of his throws in the prelims, so he did not qualify for finals. Quesenberry had Class AA’s best throw entering the meet at 54-5. Zayne Babbitt of Hellgate won with a throw of 56-3. Trevor Hopf of Billings Skyview placed third at 52-3.
• The boys put on an exciting show in the high jump, with four different athletes clearing the bar at 6-5. There were a lot of congratulatory high-fives and celebrations among competitors until Kalispell Flathead’s Matt Quist won the event. Quist was the only one to clear 6-7.
• Bozeman’s Hunter May shaved nearly six seconds off his season-best time in the 3,200-meter run to earn a somewhat surprising win for the Hawks. Helena’s Aidan Reed, who had the state’s fastest time entering the meet, finished second.
• The Missoula Big Sky girls set the Memorial Stadium record in the 400 relay. The Eagles matched their seed time of 48.52 seconds to grab the fastest qualifying time for Saturday’s finals.
• Butte’s Erika McLeod successfully defended her title in the long jump. McLeod, a senior, jumped 17-6, beating Helena Capital’s Maggie Settle by more than one foot.
• Ashleigh Lehotsky of Great Falls CMR threw a solid 42-5 in the shot put to take the top spot on the podium. Big Sky’s Hana Feilzer edged Jace Henderson of Senior by one inch to finish second.