Havre Daily News sports editor
The Montana Class C track and field postseason is more along the lines of a marathon than an all-out sprint. Last week, Class C team's around the state ran the first leg of that marathon with district meets.
That first leg included the District 9C track meet in Havre on May 10. In that meet, the Big Sandy girls and North Star boys took home district championships.
On Thursday in Great Falls, the second portion of the postseason marathon will take place as teams from all across the Hi-Line gather at Memorial Stadium for the 2006 Northern C Divisional track meet.
The Northern C divisional meet should be as entertaining as any meet in recent memory on both the boys and girls sides.
The girls meet is expected to be a head-to-head dual between Big Sandy and, the 9C champion, and District 10C powerhouse Chester/J-I. But individually, the meet's focal point will be on one of the most exciting track athletes to come along in a very long time-Big Sandy's Kourtney Danreuther.
Danreuther has won a gold medal in every single event that she has competed in her first high school season, which makes her career perfect , for the moment. In Havre last Wednesday, Danreuther broke District 9C records in all five events she competed in. Danreuther won the 100, 200 and 400 meters, and the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles. During the regular season, Danreuther competed in long jump, but she opted to run the 400 meters during the postseason in hopes of completing a coveted sprint triple crown at the Class C state meet next weekend in Helena.
But first thing's first, Danreuther will be heavily favored in all five events in Great Falls on Thursday. Memorial Stadium is considered a very fast track and with favorable weather conditions, there will be no reason to think that several Northern C records are likely to fall.
But Danreuther isn't the only reason that the Pioneers have a realistic chance at a Northern C crown. Big Sandy has a solid and balanced team. Along with Danruether's sprinting, the Pioneers are also expected to get big points from Morgan Darlington, who won all three distance races at the 9C meet last week. Desirae O'Neal is also one of the division's top high jumpers, and Laci Keller is an outstanding thrower. Both Big Sandy relay teams also have a chance to win divisional championships as well.
While Big Sandy has Danreuther and a host of talented athletes, the Chester/J-I Hawks may just be the team to beat in Great Falls. The Hawks have a bevy of talent in almost every event.
Brianne Wolfe leads the Hawks into the divisional meet. Wolfe is an outstanding distance runner, as is teammate Keyla Briese. The Hawks also have two outstanding sprinters in Daina Kolstad and Brittany Kolstad. Both Kolstads also run both hurdles events for Chester/J-I. The Hawks will also rely heavily on all-around athlete Hannah Pimley. Pimley will run the hurdles and throw the shot put. Pimley is also expected to compete for a high jump title on Thursday.
Most people may expect the Pioneers and Hawks to battle it out for the divisional team title on Thursday, District 8C champion Geraldine might just have something to say about the meet's outcome. The Tigers have a wealth of talent and are especially strong in the sprints. District 9C runner-up North Star also has a strong team, having qualified athletes in almost every event. The Knights are expected to get a strong showing from Natasha Dyrland, who is a standout hurdler, jumper and thrower, and Megan Warren who is a favorite in the long jump and triple jump. Courtney Wendland is also a standout thrower for the Knights and Tai Pester could be the favorite to win the pole vault.
Chinook's first season in Class C track has been somewhat up and down, but the Beeters do have one of the top all-around athletes in the divisional meet in senior Crystal Roseberry. Roseberry will be favored to win the triple jump and she is also a strong contender in the long jump. Turner's Ashley VanVoast could also make some noise in the hurdles.
The Northern C boys meet should be every bit as entertaining as the girls meet. North Star comes into the meet as District 9C champions after edging 9C favorite Big Sandy last week in Havre. But in Great Falls, it is the Pioneers who are on everybody's radar.
Big Sandy has one of Class C's best sprinting crews and a top all-around athlete in senior Kyle Danreuther. Danreuther captured 9C gold in the 200 meters and both hurdle events. Ryan Pokorny won the 9C 100-meter title and fellow sprinters Karl Osterman and Lawrence Jappe both qualified for all three sprints. With those four on board, there is no doubt who the favorite will be in both relay races. Jappe is also a strong contender in the long jump.
Big Sandy's talent doesn't just end with sprinters either. Darin Ray will be a favorite to win the 800, 1600 and 3200-meter races Thursday afternoon, which could give the Pioneers the depth and the points they need to take home the Northern C divisional championship.
But no one, including Big Sandy head coach Roy Lackner, can afford to overlook North Star. The Knights may not have had as many individual champions last week in Havre, but they do have depth at almost every individual event. And they have one of the premier athletes in Class C track and field in senior Cody Donoven. Donoven captured district gold in the javelin and placed in four other events. He and Danreuther have battled all season in the 110 and 300-meter hurdles and either competitor could win the divisional crown in both events on Thursday. Donoven and teammate Branden Melby should also be contenders in the high jump and Melby has a solid chance to win the triple jump Thursday afternoon.
Senior Shane Rice could also help the Knights to a trophy in Great Falls. Rice had an outstanding day at the District 9C meet, winning the 3200-meters and qualifying for the divisional meet in four other events. Alex Frey comes into Thursday's meet as another of North Star's contenders in the high jump, having won the 9C high jump championship, and Alex Chvilicek could help the Knights with a solid performance in the pole vault.
Aside from Big Sandy and North Star, the race for trophies in Great Falls is wide open. Chester/J-I is in a good position to earn a trophy Thursday because of outstanding athletes like Kevin May, who is an outstanding hurdler, and Caleb Brown, who is a top caliber distance runner. Hays-Lodge Pole should also get maximum points in the throws thanks to junior Lance Brockie. Brockie won the shot put and discus at the District 9C meet and placed in the javelin.
The 2006 Northern C Divisional track meet is scheduled to get under way at 10 a.m. on Thursday at Memorial Stadium in Great Falls. The top six athletes in each event will move on to the Class C state meet next weekend in Helena.