HELENA — The Helena Capital High girls track team will enter the Class AA state track meet in Kalispell with momentum.
The Bruins qualified 16 athletes in 15 events, and will be anchored by their top-tier runner and jumper Audrey Bloomquist.
"Bloomquist is as good as anyone in the state," Bruins coach Dick McMahon said. "She is not only in running events, but jumping events, and I think this weekend there will be a lot on her plate.
"She is in the top six in every event (she participates in), and more so, she is one of the best teammates you can have around. She is such a competitor, and the (state race) will be bittersweet because of all she has meant to Capital over the last four years. She is a dynamic kid and to be honest, she sets a great example."
Leigha Carter, who is still overcoming having two pulmonary embolisms in her lungs, will compete in the 100 and 200 meters. The two work well together as teammates.
"Carter will probably tell you Audrey pushes her to do things better," McMahon said.
Sydney Sheridan, who is signed to play basketball at Western Montana, placed fourth in the 200 at the divisional meet with a time of 26.84, and was a part of a 4x100 relay team with Carter, Melissa Moreni and Bloomquist that placed first recording a time of 49.33 seconds.
Moreni, who will participate in the 100 and 300 hurdles, will be another participant looking to make an impact.
"She is one of the premier hurdlers in the state," McMahon said. "She is setting herself up for a big weekend, and (our team) has good things going for us right now. Everything starts at zero, and we will see if we can sneak up on some people."
McMahon also mentioned hurdler Eliza Thomas as another runner to make an impact at state.
"Hopefully, the rest of our team will sneak up on people," McMahon said. "We will have to see what happens, but there is one thing I know about the kids at Capital. I'll never question the effort they give us all of the time."
Helena coach Manny Garza is optimistic about his team's prospects this weekend. Garza cited the Bengals 4x100 and the 4x400 relay teams as showcasing improvement since the start of the season.
The 4x100 team consisting of Logan Brown, Zach Spiroff, Ayden Fasbender and David Lowry recorded a time of 43.97, and the 4x400 team consisting of Fasbender, Brown, Luke Schmitz and Lowry recorded a divisional time of 3:28.90.
There are three individual performers Garza anticipates will have a solid showing at state.
Distance runner Zane Roush, who runs in the 3,200, is carrying momentum with him headed into the state. Roush finished first in both the CMR quad and Helena-Capital crosstown meet. At CMR, Roush recorded a personal record of 9:59.36.
Spiroff, who is signed to play football at Carroll College, entered last weekend's divisional on the bubble. With a time of 11.47 in the 100, Spiroff finished fourth, enough for him to qualify for state.
Pole vaulter Garrett Bywater overcame unfavorable conditions for pole vaulting to punch his ticket to state. Bywater has been in the top of the majority of the pole vault competitions he's entered this season. He placed third at divisionals, clearing 13 feet.
"We will gauge our success by improving our times, but we are a young team, and it's hard to score points and improve what we did last week," Garza said. "Obviously, when you combine both sides of the state of Montana, the competition gets stiffer. We are ready for an opportunity to compete, and it will be a fun weekend. It hasn't been the best weather to compete, but the kids have done the best with what they can."
Capital's Morris ready
The Capital boys track team had a second-day surge last weekend at the Class AA Western Divisional track meet at Vigilante Stadium.
The Bruins were catapulted by the performance of their emerging star Bret Morris. Morris is a transfer student from Houston.
"Somewhere and someway, there was a switch that got flicked, and I don't know where that switch is," Bruins coach Lon Carter said. "That is just the way it is in athletics. When someone does something unusual, gee whiz, it starts to rub off (on the other kids) and there is a domino effect with each event. Our kids kept going, and started getting better and better."
Morris provided the second-day spark. In the 100, he recorded a time of 11.24, a 200 time of 22.79 and was part of a 4x100 relay team that finished second with a time 43.17.
"It sure wasn't anything I did or said," Carter said of his team's performance. "Our kids stepped up to the plate and did a good job."