Missoulian Track roundup
Missoula's Class AA track and field teams launched their seasons on an informal basis with non-scoring time trials at two sites Friday afternoon.
"We had good weather, and it was fun to see the kids, especially the younger ones, get out and post their first marks," said Big Sky coach Russ Pilcher, summing up the day.
The defending city champs from Sentinel played host to cross-town rival Hellgate and Butte High at Stegner Field.
Sentinel coach Gary Little said his boys' highlight was provided by senior Mike LaForest, who won the 3,200 meters in 10 minutes, 15 seconds.
"That was a good opening time for Mike," Little said.
The Sentinel girls, solid favorites to claim their fourth straight city title in May, took to the track without three of their best athletes. Amy Flaig and Lindsey Egeland, key members of the state runner-up volleyball team, haven't participated in the required 10 track practices. Tassie Souhrada, who suffered an injured back in volleyball, may have to sit out the first month of the season.
"We're not the same without those three," Little said. "I think we'll be pretty good in the bigger meets because of our seniors."
Hellgate coach Ron Jones said his young teams are works in progress.
Jones praised 800 runner Andy Fisher and javelin thrower Chris Hathaway for his boys, and hurdler Leslie Hane for the girls.
"I think our boys may have a little more depth, and we have some girls who will be very competitive," Jones said.
At Big Sky, the Eagles played host to Loyola, Valley Christian and Seeley-Swan.
Pilcher said his boys were led by Rob Curran, who excelled in the 100 and 800, and ran a 52.2-second split in the mile relay. Pilcher said high jumper Cody Mecham and hurdler Josh Schaefer also performed well. For the girls, Pilcher singled out sophomores Shannon Sorenson, who cleared 8 feet, 3 inches in the pole vault, and Kelly Smith, who had a good day in the sprints.
Competition begins in earnest on Tuesday, when Hellgate travels to Frenchtown for a dual meet. The Knights play host to Helena High next Friday. Big Sky travels to Butte on Tuesday, then plays host to Great Falls High on Thursday. Sentinel's first official meet is Saturday, April 8, at Helena Capital.