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Local athletes rise up at Western C divisional meet

by CHUCK BANDEL
Valley Press | May 24, 2023 12:00 AM

An old familiar name is atop the team standings following this past weekend’s Class C Western Divisional track and field tournament held under smokey skies in Missoula.

Manhattan Christian came away with both the men’s and women’s titles from the two-day tournament that was somewhat hampered by smoke from Canadian wildfires.

But the only thing burning the track at Missoula County Public Schools stadium were the feet of Eagles athletes who ran away with both team championships.

The MC women stacked up 106 team points to comfortably outdistance second place Twin Bridges, which had 81. Drummond was third with 55 points, while Superior High finished fourth at 45. Noxon was in a surprising sixth-place tie with Valley Christian, while St. Regis was 20th.

In the men’s competition, Manhattan Christian dominated even more with a lopsided 141 points compared to the 46 gathered by second place Darby. Charlo’s Vikings were third at 44, Valley Christian came in fourth (41), Ennis was next witth 38 points and Superior’s men captured sixth place with 34 points.

Noxon finished 12th with 12 points and Hot Springs was tied for 15th with Willow Creek, both with nine team points.

Senior Jayden VanDyken paced the Lady Eagles with four individual first place showings, winning both the 100 and 200 meter sprints, and both the 100 and 300 meter hurdles events.

Superior senior Isabella Pereira, who is headed to Spokane’s Whitworth College next Fall on a track scholarship, was a top point collector for the Lady Bobcats, finishing second at 200 meters and third in the 100 meter event. Pereira also ran the anchor leg for the Lady Bobcats 4X100 relay team which nipped Manhattan Christian by .16 seconds in the relay sprint. Pereira also added a fifth place medal in the triple jump and a sixth place tie in the pole vault with teammate Payton Milender to her day’s haul.

Tops among local (Sanders and Mineral counties) women was Noxon senior Emily Brown, who nearly single handily led the Lady Devils to their sixth place team finish.

Brown, a standout basketball and volleyball player throughout her high school career, won the 800 meter run title with a personal best effort of 2:23.08. Superior sophomore Braelynn Mangold was third in the 800, also with a PR time, 2:25.45. Brown also finished first in the women’s javelin, with another PR of 121-01. Superior freshman Maryisa Swope took third with a throw of 109-08, also a personal best.

Brown added a third place finish in the women’s 400 meter run to her effort for Noxon, and was seventh in the 200 meter sprint.

She and Pereira will be among the women’s athletes to watch this coming weekend in Laurel.

Superior sophomore Eddy Betts placed third in the shot put event with a throw of 31-09. Promising St. Regis freshman Jamie Kearbey also had a good meet, finishing fifth in the long jump and sixth in the 100 meter sprint.

In the final analysis, Manhattan Christian had a much deeper team than any of the others and used that depth to back up numerous individual titles to claim the team trophies.

In the men’s competition, local athletes were shut out in the individual event titles, but many still had outstanding days. Superior junior Jaxson Green captured second in the men’s shot put and was eleventh in the discus throw. Green put the shot 42-07, finishing second behind Drummond’s Trey Phillips who won the event with a personal best 43-11 effort.

Alberton javelin thrower, sophomore Colton Baughman, finished fifth with a throw of 142-06.

Another multi-event athlete who had a decent day was Noxon sophomore Ricky Williams who was second in the high jump, clearing six feet even. First place went to Jace Page of Shields Valley, who also marked at 6-0 but won on the basis of fewer attempts at the height. Superior eighth grader Landon Richards had a personal best leap of 5-10 to finish fifth.

Williams also finished fourth in the triple jump and eighth in the long jump.

The men’s pole vault was won by Manhattan Christian’s Nathan Adams, who cleared 13 feet even. Second place was claimed by Superior junior Lucas Kovalsky, who a few weeks earlier set a school record with a vault of 13-3. Standout athlete Decker Milender, a state wrestling champ this year at 126 pounds was fourth with a vault of 12-4.

Milender, who has been a multi-sport standout for the Bobcats throughout his high school career also had an eighth place showing in the ultra-competitive men’s 100 meter dash, was anchor on the Bobcats third place 4X100 meter relay team, and ran a leg on the fourth place 4X400 relay.

Another young athlete, Alberton freshman Shea Fredette placed fourth in the 1600 meter run and ninth in the 800 meter event.

Hot Springs sophomore David Chapman placed fifth in the 110 meter hurdles and third in the 300 meter hurdles.

Next up for state qualifiers is the State B-C championships this Friday and Saturday in Laurel.

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Superior discus thrower Eddy Betts uncorks a throw during competition at the Western C Divisional track and field meet this past weekend in Missoula. Chuck Bandel/MI-VP0

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Superior eighth grader Landon Richards clear the bar during the high jump competition at this past weekend's Class C Divisional tournament in Missoula. (Chuck Bandel/MI-VP)