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Sure, somebody else had a chance at the Western AA boys' divisional track meet - if Kalispell failed to put the hammer down.

Guess who put the hammer down.

"We had a great day," Braves coach Dan Hodge said with enthusiasm Friday at Missoula County Stadium.

In eight finals, Kalispell averaged 16 points each to take a 127-26 lead over second-place Helena High. Last year on their home track, the Braves had 82 points on the first day and wound up swamping runner-up Helena Capital 184-117.

"We're having an awful lot of personal bests today," Hodge said. "That's what you hope. You hope you jell and you get the best out of your kids at divisionals and state. That's happening, so far."

The Braves did things like nip sprinter-strong Butte in the 400-meter relay and sweep at least the top two spots in all four field events. Three underclassmen had the best javelin throws of their lives, junior Troy Wassink winning with a state-best mark of 213 feet, 7 inches. It was the first time over 200 for Wassink, the state leader in high jump as well and winner of that event Friday.

And that's not even mentioning the expected, convincing victories by Kalispell's David Vidal in the 800 and Seth Watkins in the 3,200. Vidal ran two laps in 1:55.63, missing his own meet record of 1:54.68 set last year.

Kalispell's girls weren't quite as dominant, but they emerged from the first day with a comfortable 90-45 lead over Helena Capital. Butte High was another six points back with 39.

The Bravettes won six of the eight contests and picked up second place in one of the others.

"We had a few disappointments, but also some surprises," coach Joe McKay said.

Sophomore Molly Burt prepped for what could be a big Saturday with a runaway win in the 300 hurdles in 44.94 - fastest in Montana this spring by nearly one-half second. Senior Sarah Lenoch equaled her state-best mark of 11 feet, 6 inches in pole vault.

Also winning for the Bravettes: junior Amanda McCready in shot put (38 feet, 11Þ inches), junior Katie Svennungsen in the 800 (2:25.64), and sophomore Halladay Quist in long jump (16-10.).

If that seems like a lot of young talent, consider that Kalispell's Erin Windauer was second in the 3,200 and Krista Jimenez placed third in the 300 hurdles. They're both freshmen.

Quist also posted the fastest qualifying times in the 100 and 100 hurdles, and the monstresses from the Flathead sent three to Saturday's finals in the 100, 100 hurdles and 200.

Missoula teams took an oh-fer for the day in terms of gold medals, though Sentinel sophomore Lea Feasline pushed McCready in the girls' shot put a personal best put of 37-1., and Hellgate sophomore Kesley Cooley took second and Mandy Hays fourth in girls' long jump.

Hellgate junior Robb Hollenbeck, in his second week of long jumping, took the lead on his last attempt at 21-6 - only to have Kalispell's Steven Hodge and Steve Symington leapfrog past him on their final jumps. Hodge won at 22 feet even. Another Knight, sophomore Ian Cooke, tied for third in high jump. Sentinel sophomore Stephen Flink ran his personal best in the 3,200 by nearly 15 seconds (9:45.91) to take fourth in the rapid field.

It was probably only a matter of time before Wassink popped a big javelin throw. His older brother, Chad, was a two-time state AA champ at Kalispell in the event and ranks eighth in NCAA Division I as a senior at Stanford.

"It was really good weather today," Troy Wassink said. "My arm felt real well. High jump and javelin were at the same time, so I was going back and forth and my whole body was warm. That helps."

Wassink cleared 6-6 in high jump between javelin throws, not his best, which is 6-8, but satisfactory - especially since teammates Hodge and Symington were second and tied for third, respectively. Not long after, Wassink qualified for state in his third event, edging teammate James Hatton for fifth place by one-quarter inch.

The Braves' Zach Lindsay, who won the state shot put championship last year after losing at divisionals by five inches, made amends with a solid mark of 54-3..

One of the day's first races stirred up the most controversy. Because the state meet in Great Falls will be run on an eight-lane track, all relay teams who make a qualified run at divisionals get to go.

Things went fine in the 400 relay until both Helena teams botched their final exchanges, failing to complete them inside the exchange zone. Though their anchormen ran back into the zones and then completed the race, they were disqualified.

"They left the end of the zone without making an exchange," a meet official said. "You can't go back - at least that's the interpretation."

The ruling met heated resistance from some coaches from Helena Capital and Helena. Both teams figured to be in the running for points at state next week in Great Falls.

At Missoula County Stadium


Team scores (8 of 17 events): Kalispell 127, Helena High 26, Helena Capital 24, Butte 23, Missoula Hellgate 18, Missoula Sentinel 15, Missoula Big Sky 14.

800 - 1, David Vidal, Kal, 1:55.63; 2, Casey Lofthouse, HH, 1:59.71; 3, Herb Ballou, HC, 2:00.01; 4, Matt Choquette, Bu, 2:00.10; 5, Adam Cowan, BS, 2:00.85; 6, Nick Doherty, Sent, 2:04.40.

3,200 - 1, Seth Watkins, Kal, 9:25.12; 2, Vance Twitchell, HC, 9:36.03; 3, Kurt Michels, Kal, 9:41.34; 4, Stephen Flink, Sent, 9:45.91; 5, David Roberts, HH, 9:46.42; 6, Caleb Ambrose, Kal, 9:55.39.

300 hurdles - 1, Jake Larson, Bu, 38.86; 2, Josh Schaefer, BS, 40.39; 3, Ben Chaet, HH, 40.48; 4, Kyle Samson, HC, 40.62; 5, Milo Funk, Kal, 40.99; 6, Joe Baumgart, HC, 41.15.

400 relay - 1, Kalispell (Brandon Dwyer, Brian Styck, Steven Hodge, Pete Sloan) 43.56; 2, Butte 43.98; 3, Sentinel 44.30; 4, Big Sky 44.39; 5, Hellgate 44.42.

Javelin - 1, Troy Wassink, Kal, 213-7; 2, Bryce Jahner, Kal, 190-2; 3, Travis Lynch, Kal, 185-9; 4, Evan Smith, Hgt, 184-6; 5, Tim Denman, Sent, 180-1; 6, Chris Alexander, Bu, 175-1.

Shot put - 1, Zach Lindsay, Kal, 54-3.; 2, Tanner Rauk, Kal, 52-9Þ; 3, Kevin Smith, HH, 49-0; 4, Gary Cooper, HC, 47-11Þ; 5, Nick Heaton, Kal, 47-1þ; 6, Shane MacIntyre, HC, 47-Þ.

High jump - 1, Troy Wassink, Kal, 6-6; 2, Steven Hodge, Kal, 6-4; 3, (tie) Steve Symington, Kal, and Ian Cooke, Hgt, 6-2; 5, Chris Polhemus, Sent, 6-0; 6, Evan Smith, Hgt, 6-0.

Long jump - 1, Steven Hodge, Kal, 22-0; 2, Steve Symington, Kal, 21-11 Þ; 3, Robb Hollenbeck, Hgt, 21-6; 4, Tyler Peterson, HH, 21-5; 5, Troy Wassink, Kal, 20-9; 6, James Hatton, Kal, 20-8þ.


Team scores (8 of 17 events): Kalispell 90, Helena Capital 45, Butte 39, Helena High 32, Missoula Hellgate 28, Missoula Sentinel 12, Missoula Big Sky 2.

800 - 1, Katie Svennungsen, Kal, 2:25.64; 2, Laci Lisac, Bu, 2:26.00; 3, Allison Squires, HC, 2:26.39; 4, Ashley Lehman, HH, 2:28.03; 5, Allison Jovin, BS, 2:28.80; 6, Kaci Briggeman, Hgt, 2:30.12.

3,200 - 1, Staci Anderson, HC, 11:41.2; 2, Erin Windauer, Kal, 11:56.0; 3, Samantha Snyder, HH, 12:03.1; 4, Tracy Martin, HC, 12:05.8; 5, Annie Grayson, Kal, 12:06.6; 6, Chelsea Brist, Kal, 12:06.6.

300 hurdles - 1, Molly Burt, Kal, 44.94; 2, Katie Roberts, HC, 46.94; 3, Krista Jimenez, Kal, 47.82; 4, Ashley Wolstein, Bu, 48.06; 5, Janie Mockel, HC, 48.28; 6, Halladay Quist, Kal, 48.60.

400 relay - 1, Butte (Brianne Petriz, Anna Kovash, Kristin Vinecke, Ashley Wolstein) 50.66; 2, Helena Capital 51.06; 3, Helena High 51.42; 4, Sentinel 51.78; 5, Kalispell 52.37; 6, Hellgate 52.81.

Javelin - 1, Catie Holliday, Kal, 121-7; 2, Sara Slusser, HH, 119-11; 3, Katie Farago, Hgt, 119-3; 4, Angela Luck, Hgt, 117-0; 5, Katie Regier, Kal, 112-8; 6, Kristen Tuttle, Butte, 111-9.

Shot put - 1, Amanda McCready, Kal, 38-11Þ; 2, Lea Feasline, Sent, 37-1.; 3, Joanna Kaio, Bu, 35-8; 4, Becky O'Neil, Kal, 35-7Þ; 5, Stephanie Morrison, HH, 35-5; 6, Jyndia Schaible, Kal, 34-5..

Long jump - 1, Halladay Quist, Kal, 16-10.; 2, Kelsey Cooley, Hgt, 16-4Þ; 3, Rachael Simons, HC, 16-2.; 4, Mandy Hays, Hgt, 16-2.; 5, Brianne Petritz, Bu, 16-1Þ; 6, Kelsey Dalton, HC, 15-11.

Pole vault - 1, Sarah Lenoch, Kal, 11-6; 2, Katie Mattingly, Bu, 10-6; 3, Brittney Tatchell, HH, 10-0; 4, Laura Winstead, Hgt, 9-6; 5, Ivy Pedersen, Kal, 9-6; 6, Freddie Harmon, Kal, 9-6.

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