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Darby's Seth Garbett has run against Manhattan's Mike Asay quite a few of times, and the result is almost always the same.

"I've usually lost," Garbett said of the New Mexico-bound runner. "One time, after he had run the two-mile (the 3,200 meters) really hard, the mile came up next.

"He was pretty tired."

It is Garbett, though, who has the fastest 3,200 in the state this spring. He clocked 9 minutes, 32 seconds in Missoula on April 17. If he can match that and beat Asay, it could say a lot about the boys' team race at the State B track and field championships this weekend in Laurel.

The distances - the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 - could be the highlights of a meet that has Darby vying for top-three honors with Thompson Falls, Columbus, Plains and the two-time defending champion Manhattan Tigers.

Garbett is backed up nicely by teammates Doug Raymer and Sean Abrahamsen in the distances, Ben Robbins in the hurdles and Aaron Johnston in the sprints.

Raymer could challenge Asay in the 800. Add in Loyola Sacred Heart's Mike Evans, Colstrip's Chase Robinson and Townsend's Jager Warner, and the distances are stacked.

"For Class B - absolutely phenomenal," said Darby coach Steve Gideon. "And there's no doubt we'll go out there and be extremely competitive."

Where Darby will end up is anyone's guess. Thompson Falls moved Charlie Knapp out of the middle distances into the sprints, and he's a threat to score big in the 200 and 400, as well as the jumps.

The Bluehawks also have Will Dalby in the javelin and Mike Wood in the discus and vaulter Steve Block always seems to put together a solid 800 at state.

Plains could score big with its trio of Taylor Firestone, Trent Thompson and Dillon Fryxell. The Horsemen are putting the "field" in track and field: Firestone is in the long and triple jumps; Thompson works the throws and Fryxell is favored in the high jump.

Western Montana boys with shots at titles include Deer Lodge thrower Brandon Forson, who has the best discus mark this spring, Loyola javelin thrower Brandan Haggarty, Eureka shot putter Robert VanHyfte and Bigfork sprinter Keenan Evans.

Newcomer Bigfork is a solid threat to win the State B girls' crown in its first year back down from Class A. The Vals can get big points from hurdler/sprinter Mallery Knoll, distance standout Kayla Carlson, sprinter Quinci Paine and their relays.

"Cut Bank's going to be tough," said Sue Loeffler, who's been coaching track at Bigfork for 36 years. "Really tough. Things have to fall just right, and you never know what can happen.

"I feel like if the girls can perform at their best level, we'll be talking about getting a top-three."

Cut Bank is led by Deni Fitzpatrick, who has won the 100 and 200 titles the past two seasons, and who has added the hurdles races to her resume.

Defending state champion Choteau is still in the picture, along with Darby and Three Forks.

Three Forks has a couple top sprinters in LaDean Richardson and Shayla Mack, though the Wolves moved Mack out of the 100 and into the 800, where Carlson and Darby's Heather Demorest start to excel. That's not to mention Eureka's Bailey Malecha and Malta's Bobbi Knudsen (Townsend distance standout Chiara Warner bowed out of divisionals with a hip injury).

Richardson also lost to Columbus flash Haley Sobrero at divisionals in the 100 and 200.

The points could be spread out, and that could help Bigfork and Darby, which also has Rachel Wetzsteon in the long jump and Sarah Jakober in the triple.

Meanwhile Florence's Megan Leathers is a threat in the shot put and discus, and Loyola Sacred Heart's Kiernan Haggarty has the state's top throw in the javelin. Thompson Falls' Hope Reid ran the best 100-meter hurdles time at divisionals last week.

Fans should also watch the triple jump pit. Whitehall standout Kellee Glaus marked a 40-foot jump last week; the state record is 37-10 1/4. That will be one of the last events of the meet.

Friday will have five finals for the B girls and eight finals for the boys - including the 3,200 final, set for 3:15 p.m. That'll pit the 5-foot-7 Garbett against the 5-5 "tough little kid," as he calls Asay.

Barring a thunderstorm, the weather should be good and the track warm.

"If everything works out and everyone peaks at the right time - which is what you're trying to have happen - we have a chance to score some points," Gideon said. "But I think the field is even deeper than it was a year ago."

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