GREAT FALLS — Morgan Sulser oozes greatness on the track. But Billings Senior teammate Taylor Mims sees something more.
“She’s the most inspiring person I’ve ever met,” Mims said. “She’s just a great teammate. She left a mark on Senior High.”
And wouldn’t you know it, Sulser left another mark on the history books at the State AA track and field meet on Saturday, establishing an all-class record in the 100 meters with a blazing time of 12.19. It broke the previous standard of 12.24 set by Sidney’s Stacey Rehbein in 1998, and stands as Sulser’s second all-class record in two years.
The University of Montana-bound senior, who considers herself more of a hurdler than a straight sprinter, broke the 100-meter hurdles mark at the AA meet last year in Bozeman.
In the end, her latest record helped the Broncs sew up their fifth consecutive girls team championship at Memorial Stadium. Mims captured the high jump title on Friday, distance stalwart Christina Aragon added victories in the 400, 800 and 1,600, and Jace Henderson (third, shot put) and Hannah Nessan (fourth, discus) were among those who added valuable supplemental points.
When she saw her all-class-record 100-meter clocking, Sulser was stunned.
“I turned around and looked at the scoreboard and thought it was wrong,” said Sulser, who earlier won the 100 hurdles for the third straight season. “I wasn’t expecting that at all. I wasn’t even really expecting to win the 100.”
Coincidentally, the Broncs scored 100 points to win the team title going away. Missoula Big Sky placed second with 69½ points, and Bozeman came in third with 59.
A lot goes into winning five consecutive team championships, not the least of which is synergy between teammates. The Broncs know this.
“It takes a lot of hard work and practice, sometimes chemistry too,” Mims said. “Having chemistry as a team can help out a lot. I feel like we’re really great about that. We just love our environment.”
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Sulser’s form when starting out of the blocks in the sprints is different than what she does in the hurdles: She tries to stay lower when firing out at the gun. She’d worked to improve her sprint-starting throughout this season, but it hit a snag in the prelims for the 100 on Friday when she came out too low and nearly stumbled.
It was a much different story on Saturday. Sulser said her start felt “pretty good,” and by the halfway point of the race she could “feel her legs going faster than they ever have.”
Sulser seemed a bit perturbed by her 14.3 time in the 100 hurdles, which was short of the all-class record of 14.11 she established in that race in Bozeman a year ago. And then she came up short in the 300 hurdles, which gave her some extra motivation.
If she was banking any energy for the 100, it wasn’t intentional. Either way, she blew away the field.
“I think I might have been a little angry with how the 3s ended up and took it out with (the 100),” said Sulser, who ran in six events on Saturday. “It doesn’t feel real to me at all.”
Billings West’s Mika Robinson had a whirlwind sports year, beginning with a strong soccer season, followed by helping the Bears reach the championship game of the AA girls basketball tournament, and ending with a gold medal at the state track meet.
Robinson capped a solid (if not underrated) three-sport career by winning the girls pole vault on Saturday, out-leaping everyone with a vault of 11 feet, 6 inches. It matched her career high and school-record mark.
It stands as Robinson’s first and only gold medal in track, and she was proud to walk away a champion.
“This feels pretty amazing,” Robinson said. “It’s been my goal since forever pretty much. It’s been a surreal year. It’s been a ton of fun and really competitive. I’m really glad I got to spend all four years at West High.
“This was my last competition in high school. It hasn’t really hit yet. It’s been fun.”
• Missoula Big Sky, with 59 points, won its second consecutive boys AA team title, edging Helena by one point.
Interestingly, the Eagles had just one individual champion at the two-day meet (Chris Lange’s win in the 110 hurdles) but had five other top-three finishers. Missoula Hellgate placed third with 54 points.
• Butte sprinter Dalton Daum put on a show in the 100- and 200-meter races. Daum won a tight 100 with a time of 10.86, edging Big Sky’s Alex Mustard at the finish. Daum then cruised in the 200 with a time of 21.7.
• Todd Ogden of Kalispell Glacier let fly on a record-setting javelin heave of 210-10 on Saturday, which established a new Class AA mark. Ogden broke his own record of 210-8, which he set last season.