Covering athletics isn’t supposed to hurt, but here I’m treating a swollen knee and it wasn’t for any kind of exertion.
The AA and A state championships on the Merrifield track at Bulldog Memorial Stadium last weekend didn’t disappoint otherwise: the Whitefish girls dispatched coach Kelliann Blackburn to win, and the Glacier boys nearly did the same for their now former trainer, Arron Deck.
The 100 meters remains the must-have race of all competitions, and the boys’ 100 meters did not disappoint. Especially if you were a Missoula Sentinel Spartan.
Checking Hudson Lembke’s season stats on athletic.net, it should perhaps have come as no surprise that he won the sprint and pushed the Spartans into an insurmountable lead.
It was the fifth time the sophomore won the 100 meters this spring, in 10 starts. He finished second on two other occasions: ahead of junior Helena Capital Thomas Carter at the Pilcher Top 10, and two days later ahead of junior Glacier Jackson Hensley at the April 28 Wolfpack Triangle.
Based on the standings, I had Glacier nickel-and-diming the sprints and high and long jumps and scoring 78 points, which would be enough to win.
The Pack scored 80; Sentinel, projected to 73 points, got 89. The Spartans came to play and managed to dispatch their coach with the big trophy: 406mtsports.com reported on Saturday that Craig Mettler was in the assistant manager position.
Once and forever a defensive tackle from Griz, Mettler came to Sentinel in 2009. He leaves with three straight boys’ championships (skipping the canceled pandemic in 2019) and three women’s titles in 2017-18 and 2021.
Deck, meanwhile, earned a state title and a pair of trophies in 14 seasons with the Pack.
“The sun has to go down at some point on everyone,” Mettler said, but don’t tell Dan Hodge, whose 50th season as Flathead Boys coach came to a strong finish. Don’t tell that to Sue Loeffler, whose Bigfork charges brought home third-place trophies from the State B encounter.
Hats off to George Bucklin of the Vikings. Shelby standout Rhett Reynolds has lost two high jump competitions all season, at the Archie Roe Invitational and State B. Bucklin got it both times, the latter with a record 6-foot-7 career inches.
The Braves scored just five points statewide in 2021, then this year literally moved up to seventh out of 16 teams. Most of the 30 points came in the triple jump and the long jump. Dylan Zink was second in both and pushed Glacier’s Tate Kauffman in the first.
Zink and Kauffman are both seniors, and it would behoove someone from the Frontier Conference to take on Zink. Kauffman signed with Carroll; it would be nice if their duels could continue.
As nice as the Braves’ Hodge hoodies? Maybe. The tops stood out not only because they were snow white, but also because their longtime coach’s photo adorned the front.
It’s not my biggest takeout from State, but I’m sure they should be on sale at Universal. I would hobble and buy one.
Fritz Neighbor can be reached at 758-4463 or [email protected]