Track and field athletes from Class B and C high schools launch postseason competition this weekend with district meets. The best performers advance to divisional meets next week, followed by the state meets May 25-26.
The District 5-B meet in Frenchtown begins Friday at 2 p.m. and concludes Saturday, starting at 10 a.m., while the District 6-B meet is Saturday at 10 a.m. at Kalispell's Rawson Field. The top six individuals and top five relays advance to the Western B divisional, next week at Missoula County Stadium.
Districts 13-C and 14-C will hold their meets together Saturday at 10 a.m. at Missoula Sentinel's Stegner Field. The top five individuals and top five relays advance to the Western C divisional, next week at the University of Montana's Dornblaser Field.
District 5-B: The Frenchtown girls have claimed 13 of the past 14 district titles, but Florence looks like the team to beat this year.
The Falcons have one of the state's top all-around performers in senior hurdler-jumper Alicia Torrey, as well as sprinter-thrower Kim Heinz and hurdler Annie Gayvert. Deer Lodge, Missoula Loyola and Frenchtown should also be in the running. Other individuals to watch include discus thrower Shyanne Feucht of Seeley-Swan, jumper Jade Bender of Frenchtown and sprinter Tara McNeal of Valley Christian.
The Florence boys won district last year for the first time since 1981, and should be in the hunt again along with Loyola, Frenchtown and Darby. Florence is led by sprinters Nick Walters and Jason Williams, and thrower Mike Slingsby. Loyola features distance runner Jack Scott and sprinter Mike Potts, while Frenchtown's leaders include sprinter Austin Lewis and jumper Travis Phillippi. Darby boasts top discus thrower Ben Winn, jumper Bret Ralston and distance runner Mitchell Howard.
District 6-B: The Thompson Falls boys look like a good bet to successfully defend their title, with a balanced team led by sprinter Jeremey Thomas and thrower Travis Hedahl. Plains and Eureka figure to duke it out for second place. Sprinter Kasey French of Plains and sprinter-jumper Cody Feasel of Superior are outstanding performers.
On the girls' side, Plains looks like the favorite, paced by sprinter Marie Errecart and thrower Jenny Dicello. Superior, led by sprinter-hurdler Chioko Nakasone, and Thompson Falls, led by 800 runner Kellyn Gross, should battle for second place.
District 13-C: The Drummond boys and girls are favored to sweep the team titles for the third straight year.
Sprinters Mike Hash and Tanner Cochrell lead the Drummond boys, who have captured eight district titles in 10 years. Victor looks like the top challenger, led by hurdler Seth Lindauer.
The Drummond girls' leaders include pole vaulter Tessa Anderson and sprinter Billie Jo Baker. Victor won't win, but the Pirates have a pair of individual standouts in distance star Robin Wemple and hurdler Lindsey Burrington.
District 14-C: The Arlee boys are poised to snap Charlo's streak of three straight district titles. The Warriors' deep team is led by hurdler-vaulter-thrower Rafe Espinoza and sprinter-jumper Robert Sanchez. Other individuals to watch include Noxon hurdler Eric Wilson, Charlo jumper Devon Cox and Hot Springs weightman Andrew Leichtnam.
The Charlo girls' string of three straight titles will be challenged by Arlee in what should be a good duel. Charlo is led by sprinter Dani Wiemer and thrower Dani Finley, while Arlee features all-around performers such as Lynnsey Baker and Missy Tiensvold.