By Tiffany L. Rehbein
Like Plato, the philosophy has never changed.
Win, place, or set a personal-best record.
The Havre Blue Pony track team will have one last opportunity to do just that this weekend at the State A track meet, held at Memorial Stadium in Butte.
"I think we have put kids in the position to place or win their events," Havre head track coach John Ita said. "I think, realistically, we got a wake-up call at divisional. It takes depth and quality of depth to compete."
The Blue Pony boys placed third at the Central A divisional last weekend and the girls placed second. The Belgrade Panthers won both the boys' and the girls' trophies.
Jesse Suek, LaShae Michels, and Jennie Peterson are three such athletes in the position to fare well for the second-straight year.
Suek, who won the discus at the Central A divisional meet last weekend with a toss of 159-3, placed fourth at state last year in the event.
Two Glendive athletes, Brian Clausen and Jakin Hill, have tosses of 163-10 and 163-2, respectively, this season, while Belgrade's Beau Clark is a fine thrower. Suek outdistanced Clark by seven inches last weekend.
Michels, who won the triple jump last weekend with a leap of 35-0, placed third in the event last year at state.
Michels is one of the finest in the state. Miles City's Ann Stevenson has a notch at 35-1 and Michell Erickson of Billings Central has a mark of 34-9. Heidi McGree of Butte Central is tough, placing second behind Michels at divisional with a leap of 34-4 1/2.
Erin Patera jumped well at divisional, coming through with a mark of 33-1 and qualifying for state in the triple jump.
Peterson placed first in both the 1,600 meters (5:36.86) and the 3,200 meters (12:03.43) at divisional. She will be looking to better two seventh-places in both events last year at state.
Peterson's strength is the 3,200 meters. She has the fastest time in the Class A at 11:45.1. It is the second-fastest in the state. Peterson has placed first in the event four times, second once, third once, and did not compete in the race at one dual meet in order to do some speed work in other events.
Colstrip, who won the team title at the Eastern A divisional, boasts Eryn Beckman, Yvonne Bakick, and Jesse Ballew, each of whom could compete in the 3,200. Beckman has the fastest time of the three at 11:56.0 and Ballew clocked in at 12:02.2. Bakick has a time of 12:03.2.
In the 1,600 meters, Ballew just recently separated herself from the tight times and clocked in at 5:18.1. Tara Halpin of Whitefish has a time of 5:23.9 and Beckman is clocked at 5:26.3.
Peterson's fastest time is 5:30.0, a time she set during the first three weeks of competition.
However, freshman counterpart Jenna Baltrusch could help the Ponies rout the distance runs. Baltrusch has consistently cut time from her marks during the course of the past month.
She placed second in the 3,200 at divisional and third in the 1,600. Her time of 5:39.89 in the 1,600 meters was a personal-best last week.
Erin Lynch and Jillian Brough could gather some points in the middle distance runs for the girls. Brough set a personal-best 2:34.26 at divisional in the 800 meters.
The boys' sprints loaded with Brent Finneman, Adam Landgraf, and Steve Heberly could be an event to watch. Finneman placed first in the 100 meters at divisional with a time of 11.25. He knocked off powerful Damon Woolsey of Lewistown and Jovan Fisher of Browning, both of whom have run faster races than Finneman.
Heberly placed third and Landgraf placed fifth last week. Those five athletes from the Central Division could be the fastest in the state Class A. Fisher (10.9), Woolsey (11.0), and Finneman (11.07) boast the top Class A times in the race. Heberly, a freshman, has a personal-best 11.3.
The Havre sprinters, with the addition of Grant Roman, pose a loaded 400-meter relay team. The powerful relay is the fastest in the Class A with a time of 43.7, a mark they made at divisional.
"We will be trying to get some state champions here and there," Ita said. "We are going in just to see if we can get us some state champions or state placers."
Whitefish's fastest time is 44.47 and Hardin has a time of 44.56 in the relay.
Female sprinter Alyssa Matter will compete in the 100 and 110-meter hurdles. Matter's fastest time in the 100 is 12.94. She will see stiff competition from Sidney's Stacey Rehbein, who leads the Class A with a time of 12.47.
Meagan Bennett of Ronan and Brianne Downey of Anaconda can also run. Downey took the gold at the Central A divisional with a time of 13.24. Matter placed fourth (13.48).
Chris Klobofski, in search of a +50-feet shot put throw, placed fourth at divisional with a personal-best mark of 47-3. He will also compete in the discus.
Pole vaulters Maureen Porter and Cara Holmquist both earned berths to state in the event.
"They have remained steady," Ita said. "They are consistently scoring in the top six to get us points."
Jake Dusek should be a go-to for the boys in the long and triple jump. Dusek has a mark of 42-0 in the triple jump. Polson's Trevor Gunlock will be the guy to beat. Gunlock has a class-leading mark of 44-10 in the event.
Tyler McIntyre of Butte Central won the triple jump at divisional (43-9 3/4). Dusek placed fifth with a leap of 40-9 3/4.
Sophomore Jayla McPherson and freshman Jeanna McPherson will represent the Ponies in the throwing events. Jayla McPherson came through with a personal-best throw of 32-9 1/2 last weekend. Tami Huestis also qualified in the discus.
"I was pleasantly surprised with some of our finishes," Ita said.
Polson's Bree Fuqua, a nationally-ranked track athlete, will be the gal to beat for the McPherson's. Fuqua has a personal-best mark of 45-8 in the shot put.
Brian DeRosa is the hurdler for the Ponies. DeRosa placed fourth with a time of 16.72 in the 110-meter hurdles.
Freshmen Karla McCormick and Brooke Schwan snuck into some individual events for the Ponies, while Katie Siebrasse and Sherry Winchell will compete in a relay. Senior Tamara Sullins, Clif Cunningham, and Joe Roman also have spots on relay teams.
"We have some core seniors who have provided excellent leadership," Ita said. "We have a nice group of young people coming up. It really speaks to the future of our program."
Classes A and B will be in competition Friday and Saturday. On Friday, the Class B girls' pole vault warm-up begins at 9 a.m. The boys' Class A shot put is slated to begin at 9:30 a.m. The Class B boys' 400-meter relay trials are slated to begin at 10:30 a.m. and the Class A boys' 400-meter relay trials are slated to begin at 10:40 a.m.
Starting times are the same for the finals on Saturday.