LAUREL — As the track and field season starts to wind down, Abby Bymaster’s eyes are focusing a little more intently on defending her Class C state shot put championship.
Bymaster, a senior from Broadview-Lavina, has no complaints about the season she’s had. She owns the top-ranked shot put heave in Class C on the latest statewide elite track and field list, and her throw of 36 feet, 8½ inches won the event at the 35th annual Stillwater Invitational on Saturday at the Laurel Sports Complex.
“I was pretty excited with today,” said Bymaster, whose top throw this year is 38-11½, which she scored at the Columbus Snowflake meet. “I can’t really complain about it I guess. I had some good throws and some not-so-good ones, but it turned out (the winning throw) was good enough.”
Bymaster won the shot put at last year’s state meet with a throw of 40-5½. But Bymaster suffered a serious knee injury at a basketball camp last summer, and she’s had to adjust to remain on top.
With district meets beginning this week, Bymaster said she is still trying to get everything right.
“This year is a lot different than last year,” said Bymaster, who underwent surgery for a torn meniscus and a partially torn ACL. “I don’t have as much flexibility with my knee brace, so that’s been a factor. It’s a lot of adjusting.
“I know I’m going to have to focus really hard on driving my hip and my left arm as well as I can, and stay low and be quick across the ring. There are a lot of things to think about, but I try to focus on one point at a time and keep working hard and do everything I can do.”
Whatever happens at the state meet, Bymaster will continue her track and field career when she joins the women’s program at Montana State in Bozeman next year.
“I fell in love with their program,” she said. “Their athletes are very talented and down to earth. And (throwing) coach (Mike) Carignan is a great guy, and he made me feel like part of the throwing family already.”
• • •
The wind kicked up -- strongly at times -- during Saturday’s meet, and for a distance runner like Big Timber’s Darren Hecker, that can cause problems. But Hecker powered through it, winning both the 800 and the mile.
His 800 time was 2:02.63.
“When you’re running into (the wind) you just attack it, get your knees up, keep driving,” Hecker said. “And when it’s at your back you just try to use it to the best of your advantage.
“I started out hard from the beginning. My goal was a sub-2:00, which didn’t happen today, but I went out hard, ran hard and you can’t ask for anything more.”
The 800 is Hecker’s most competitive event. He currently has Class B’s top time (2:02.1) and is a contender to win it all at the state meet.
Hecker placed in three events at state in 2013, including a third-place finish in the 800. He also took fourth in the mile and sixth in the 3,200 meters.
“I believe I can win it. But I’ve got some good competition out there,” Hecker said. “You never know who can come out and run a great time. I just have to focus on my times and do what I can.”
Notes and quotes
• By her own admission, Joliet sprinter Tru Roginske isn’t a fast starter out of the blocks. And it didn’t help matters Saturday when the gun misfired at the beginning of the girls 100 meters, which forced a re-start — and a regrouping
“It’s a head game,” Roginske said. “You have to get prepared again when that happens, and that’s difficult.”
Still, Roginske sped to victory in the 100 with a time of 12.8. Roginske has been Class B’s best in the 100 this season (her top time is 12.71), as well as in the triple jump.
“I’m really happy with how I’ve done,” Roginske said. “I’ve improved so much since last year. Last year my PR was a 12.82 at state. I’m really happy that I’m improving, and that’s my goal.”
• A Roginske-Brianna Gray showdown in the 100 never materialized because Gray, the defending champion in Class C, is out with mononucleosis.
Gray won the 100 at the state meet last year with a 12.71 clocking. Her best time this season is 12.7, the top mark in Class C so far. It is not known if Gray will be ready to run at the district meet.
• The Stillwater Invitational, also known as the Al Walker Memorial, brought 29 boys teams and 26 girls teams to the LHS Sports Complex.
The team championships were settled by slim margins. Ennis won the boys title with 81½ points, just ahead of Colstrip (80 points) and Big Timber (78). Red Lodge won the girls title with 73 points. Broadview-Lavina took second with 71 points.
• Roginske also won the triple jump with a leap of 34-4. Other two-event winners on the girls side included Red Lodge’s Daniella Russell, who won the 400 (1:03.6) and the long jump (16-3), and Colstrip’s Hailey Poole, who captured both the discus (108-8) and the javelin (111-2).
Hecker won the boys mile in 4:49.91. Ennis’ Michael Hubner won both the 100 in 11.25 and the 200 in 23.63, and Joliet’s Brock Beede was victorious in the triple jump (40-8) and the javelin (149-1).