MISSOULA — For a day, Opheim's Larson sisters owned the State C track meet.
Behind sophomore Jayme Larson's win the 800 and junior Kayla Larson's repeat as 3,200 champion, Opheim took the lead in the girls race after five events, with 20 points. It's doubtful that'll hold up today when Ryegate (14 points), Geraldine (6) and Manhattan Christian (14) get their finals in, but on Friday at Missoula County High School Stadium, the Vikings conquered.
On the boys' side Manhattan Christian took the early lead with 17 points after five events. Harlowton was second with 12 and four teams — Big Sandy, Centerville, Sheridan and Superior — had 10 points each. Four-time champion Kremlin-Gildford had eight points, with plenty more to come today.
The Larsons' performance shouldn't have been a surprise — last fall Jayme and Kayla went 1-2 at the State B cross country meet, running for Glasgow. Kayla Larson, for one, wasn't surprised by the 800 outcome. Her sister traded the lead with Broadview-Lavina's Taryn Pitsch down the stretch before winning in 2:20.39.
"I was so proud of her," Kayla Larson said. "Her winning the state cross country was amazing, and today I knew when that girl (Pitsch) passed her on the corner that she wasn't going to let her beat her. I knew she'd make it. I was really proud of her."
Jayme Larson said her strategy was simple: Stay in the lead.
"I thought Taryn and I would be close, which we were," she added. "She passed me and I passed her, and I thought if I could just stay in the lead, I'd be OK. I was really surprised when I went by (after one lap) and I had a 1:06 split. I thought, 'Hopefully I can keep that up.' I'd never run a 1:06 split before, but — it worked."
Three hours later, Kayla Larson won her second straight 3,200 in the midday heat. In the process she cut 13 seconds off her best time and broke Tamara Hallock's Opheim school record. "It's just overwhelming," Larson said. "I got my school record, and it was my goal to break 12 minutes. And I did it."
There were no major upsets on the girls side, and Ryegate got a boost when Stephanie Paugh, who hadn't projected to place out of divisionals, finished fourth in the 3,200.
Teammate Kelsey Kirkpatrick, meanwhile, found herself tied with Manhattan Christian's Megan Gier at 16 feet, 8 inches heading into her final long jump. "I was a little nervous," Kirkpatrick said. "I'd been waiting all year, working for this. I didn't want it to slip out of my hands." She hit the board, marked 16-11 and won her second straight title in that event.
She also won her heats in both hurdles races, and has the 100 finals and will go for a third straight triple jump title today. Things seem to be on schedule. "I think so," Kirkpatrick said. "I think things will be OK."
Bridger junior Kylee Zent won the girls discus, breaking Lavina standout Melissa Rohrer's 5-year-old state record by nearly 15 feet. Zent's throw of 141-3 is 24 feet better than she threw last year, when she finished second in the event.
Power freshman Jacque Mellinger won the pole vault.
Sheridan's Pete Allhands accounted for all his team's points by clearing 14-0 to win the pole vault. Manhattan Christian sophomore John Ricardi won the 1,600, and Centerville's John Voegel edged KG star Casey Crites in the long jump.
Big Sandy's Mason Ophus took the discus with a throw of 156-1 (Ryegate's Nick Burgess threw 155-0 for second), and Superiors' Logan Labbe unleashed won the best javelin throws in the state: 193-5. That was more than 10 feet better than Travis Bayala of Dutton-Brady.
Harlowton's points came on a third from Paxton Wojtowick in the 1,600, a fourth from Josh Crouse in the long jump and a fifth from Jesse Merritt in the pole vault. Belfry's Matt Cichosz took third in the long jump, while his brother Dustin, a sophomore, didn't place.