MISSOULA — Lauren Heggen felt she was primed for a big jump before she made her final leap.
When the Sentinel sophomore landed in the sand pit, she had set the MCPS Invitational record in the triple jump on Saturday at Missoula County Stadium.
“There was a feeling in my second phase that I could definitely tell it was going to be a good one, and I finished it really well,” Heggen said. “My legs were really bouncy today.”
She finished the day as the lone athlete out of approximately 1,100 to set a meet record. She was the only competitor on girls’ side with three first-place finishes.
Her performances helped the Spartans run away with the girls’ title. They led all 32 teams with 157 points, beating out Big Sky and Hellgate, who tied for second place with 89.75 points. The Sentinel boys finished second to Glacier.
“We didn’t have our best day, but it also wasn’t terrible,” Sentinel head coach Craig Mettler said. “There’s a lot of technical stuff that wasn’t in place that we need to fix.”
Heggen’s jump of 39 feet, 4¾ inches broke the record of 36 feet, 8½ inches. Last year, she tied that record, set by Polson’s Kasey Harwood in 2004.
Her record-setting leap came on her second attempt of the finals. She ran in the 100-meter hurdles and the 100-meter dash before her final jumping session, which helped get her legs warmed up and loosened up more.
“I think I’ve made a lot of improvements with my strength and my endurance,” Heggen said of the difference from last season. “My technique has also gotten a lot better. I think that was a big component of it.”
She also won the 100-meter hurdles and was part of the winning 400-meter relay team along with Ashley McElmurry, Allie Baldwin-Case and Shelby Schweyen.
Heggen ran the hurdles in 15.27 seconds, shaving off half a second in just her third time competing in the event in high school.
“We’re going to really try to break down her running technique, and she’s only going to get progressively better,” Mettler said. “Her running technique isn’t really strong right now. It’s not the best technique. But with that said, for lacking technique, she’s been great.”
In both the hurdles and the triple jump, Heggen beat out McElmurry, who finished second. McElmurry won the long jump.
“There is some healthy competition there,” Mettler said. “That’s only going to make them better come May.”
Sentinel junior Shelby Schweyen also won for Sentinel, taking first in the 200-meter dash.
Glacier’s Annie Hill won the 800-meter run and the 1,600-meter run. Teammate Adrian Schnee won the 300-meter hurdles.
Hellgate won two events, with Katie Munro taking the 3,200-meter title and Mabel Gardner winning the pole vault.
Big Sky’s team of Makenna Edwards, Madison Edwards, Mariah Bohlken and Sabryn Knight won the 1,600-meter relay. They qualified for state with a time of 4:11.39.
“To qualify for state this early shows what they’re about,” Big Sky head coach Dan Nile said. “We’ve switched some girls, and they showed they’re a good crew. It was an outstanding day.”
Glacier takes boys’ title
On the boys’ side, Glacier edged out Sentinel, 136-111. Hellgate was fifth, while Big Sky was seventh.
The Wolfpack won six events, highlighted by Ethan Larson. He won the 100-meter dash and the 200-meter dash.
He was on the winning 400-meter relay team with Griz football signees Jackson Pepe and Drew Turner and Montana State football signee Mark Estes. Larson, Estes and Turner finished 1-2-3 in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes.
“Ethan loaded up on events the first few meets to get into shape,” Glacier head coach Aaron Deck said. “Now he’s focused on getting more done in specific events and getting more out of practice. I like what we saw today.”
Estes, a transfer from Drummond, also won the long jump. He swept the 100-, 200- and 400-meter titles at the State C meet last year.
“He’s just now getting into shape and starting to improve,” Deck said. “He’s got that tough, gritty competitiveness that kids from Class C have. They do everything that’s asked of them.”
Glacier’s Hunter Nicholson placed first in the high jump and triple jump.
For Sentinel, Brendan Thompson won the 110-meter hurdles, Blake Linsted was first in discus and Caden Venters won the javelin.
Hellgate had three winners, too. Will Dauenhauer won the 800-meter run, Isaac Schmidt took first in the 1,600-meter run and Ian Curtis won the 3,200-meter run.
Big Sky’s Seth Entzel emerged victorious in the pole vault.
Flathead took home the title in the 1,600-meter relay.
Seven athletes from the A, B and C classifications won events while going up against competitors from Class AA schools.
Florence's Jethro Thorne nearly broke the MCPS Invitational record in the 400-meter dash. His winning time of 50.48 seconds was 0.26 seconds slower than the 1988 record set by Hellgate’s Eric Grossman at 50.22.
“I just had to focus on staying looser and pushing through to the end,” Thorne said. “Your body wants to quit those last 75 meters."
He's been driven in his senior season by trying to redeem the false start he had in the state finals of last year's 400-meter dash.
“I’ve been pushing all season for the school record of 49.9," he said. "I want to leave my mark in the community, and coming back from that false start motivates me.”
Frenchtown’s Faith Rebich took home a victory in the girls’ 400-meter dash with a time of 1:02.42.
“I expected to be second or third going up against other good runners,” Rebich said. “I felt out harder and was faster than usual, but I didn’t do anything different. I thought at the final turn I might have a chance, and I just felt proud when I crossed the finish line.”
Corvallis junior Garrett Brown won the boys’ shot put with a throw of 53 feet, 3½ inches. That broke his personal record by nearly three feet.
“I tried not to react in the ring, but as soon as I got out, I was excited and ran to my coach and gave him a fun punch,” Brown said. “I had been working on trying to extend my arm for further throws with keeping it in bounds. I was able to do that today."
Corvallis’ Calla Haldorson won the girls’ discus with a toss of 135 feet, 8 inches.
Plains’ Jessica Thompson took first in the girls’ shot put at 40 feet, 3½ inches.
Dillon’s Tylia DeJohn won the girls’ 100-meter dash in 12.88 seconds.
Columbia Falls’ Angellica Street captured the title in the girls’ javelin with a distance of 136 feet, 9 inches.