BILLINGS — Finally, the weather let up.
After snow and rain dominated the talk of April in what's been a record-setting winter, Saturday showed signs of spring. Thanks to better weather, the Billings Invitational track and field meet was in full force at Billings West.
Many teams have been the victims of weather cancellations but stuck through a windy Saturday to finally get a meet under their belts.
Laurel junior Levi Taylor kicked the meet off with a win in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 9:59.93. As of Saturday, Taylor's time is the fastest Class A time clocked in the state.
"It felt pretty good. The last two meets were pretty windy and this one was too, so I was hoping for a little bit faster of a time," said Taylor, the 2017 Class A cross country champion. "Once the wind dies down and I get a really good meet with nice weather I should get my times down even more."
Despite the weather, Taylor and others have continued to run, rain, snow or shine, outside, to prepare for these early meets. Taylor said he's only practiced indoors a couple of times this season, but said the win is a good boost for confidence.
"I think it's pretty good for only the third meet," said Taylor, who also won the 1,600.
Arguably the performance of the day came from Sidney senior Garrison Hughes. Hughes, the two-time Class A pole vaulting champion and University of Nebraska signee, vaulted 16 feet to cruise to victory. Hughes set the Class A record last year, and now has his sights on breaking the all-class record of 16-4.
His younger brother, Carter, a junior, won the shot put and discus competitions. He is the defending Class A state champion for both.
The meet also allowed recent college signees a chance to start showing why they're going to the next level. Billings West's Kailee Stoppel, who on Wednesday signed her letter of intent to run cross country and track at Montana State Billings, won a thriller in the 300 meter hurdles. Stoppel went down to the wire with Miles City's McKenna Friend, winning with a time of 49.96.
"It feels pretty great. I was a little bit slower at the start and I hit my knee earlier today in the 100 hurdles so I was kind of hurting a little bit," Stoppel said. "I was just kind of pushing through and it felt pretty good to get it at the last second."
When asked if she knew how close Friend, whose time was 50.94, was, Stoppel laughed and said, "I did. I was like, 'I can't let up.' I have to keep going."
Her fellow West teammates Logan Strauss and Kyle Patelis also signed with MSUB. Stoppel added that she was excited to run for her hometown Yellowjackets, saying that participating in college athletics was something she's always wanted to do.
Billings Senior's Gabe Sulser set a Billings Invite record in the 110 hurdles with a time of 14.46. Senior's Tiahna Vladic set a new Billings Invite record in the girls 3,200, running 11:08.64. Senior's girls took first place in the team standings while the Golden Bears won on the boys side, just edging out the Broncs by half a point.
Other winners included: Braxton Haws, Senior, long jump; Tavy Findon, Senior, 100 hurdles; Paul Johnstone, Forsyth, 800, triple jump; Cade Johnstone, Forsyth, 100, 400; Breanne Fuller, Skyview, 100; Aleeya Derlatka, Skyview, long jump; Heather Baker, Miles City, 800; Kip Krebsbach, Miles City, 200; Breanne Fuller, Billings Skyview, 200; Marissa James, Lewistown, high jump; Julius Mims, Skyview, high jump; Faith Nichols, Roundup, discus; Savanna Wolff, Roundup, 400; Tyler Gray, Billings Central, javelin; Peter DeMars, West, 300 hurdles; Morgan Vosler, Miles City, 1,600; Masiee Brown, Senior, pole vault; Wynter Dooley, West, triple jump; Anna Zimmer, Lewistown, shot put; Emily Poole, Huntley Project, javelin. Billings Senior won the boys 400 relay and the girls won the 1,600 relay. Billings West won the girls 400 relay and boys 1,600 relay.