MISSOULA — Logan Robinson was in unfamiliar territory.
The Seeley-Swan senior was placed in the 10th lane in the 100-meter dash, a lane he'd never previously run in before and the one not often associated with the fastest athletes on the track. But because most athletes came into the meet without marks this season due to weather cancellations, competitors were scattered in odd places during Saturday's Frenchtown Invitational at Missoula County Stadium.
Though Robinson said it was weird to be lined up there, he walked away with a win in the 100 to start his spring season off with a bang.
"To be honest with you I was really surprised," Robinson said with a laugh. "Throughout my four years I've never ran in lane 10 so that was new but I was surprised and happy. That was a really good starting point for me.
"I was nervous, I'm not going to lie. But there were a few indoor track meets I went to this winter so I remembered all of that training and work that will hopefully pay off."
Robinson wasn't done there either. After that, he was a leg on the Blackhawk's 400-relay team that edged out Frenchtown and Loyola Sacred Heart for the first-place finish as well. Then, he ended the day with a win as a leg of the 1,600-relay and took second in the 200. Seeley-Swan finished fourth in the team standings.
Seeley-Swan's boys finished third last year as a team at state, and athletes like Robinson and fellow sprinters Hunter Shelmerdine and Dakota Wood are all returning vets from both of last year's state champion relay teams. Robinson also took fifth in the 200 at state.
Robinson said the Blackhawks felt they had some unfinished business left at the state meet a year ago and don't want that feeling again.
"We were a little bit bummed. We were thinking and hoping to at least take second so I think we're really motivated this year," he said. "It's been a lot less pressure (this year). As a senior you know you're a role model and leader on the team and that you have to kind of lead by example so hopefully by the end of the year we'll all be running really good times."
Corvallis won on the girls team race with 80 points, Charlo was second with 59 and Whitefish third with 55.50. Dillon's boys took home the team crown with 68 points, Frenchtown took second with 66 and Whitefish was third with 56.
Plenty of returning state champions picked up right where they left off. Corvallis senior and three-time defending State A discus champion Calla Haldorson won the discus with a toss of 134-feet, 3.5 inches in her first meet of the year. She ended up second in the shot put.
Haldorson is aiming to be the 26th female high school athlete in Montana to become a four-time champ in one event. If she wins the discus at the State A meet in Laurel in late May, she'll be the first female to do so in the discus.
So after all of the individual success she's had already, Haldorson is finding new ways to push herself in her final go. Her personal best is 153-5 and she said her technique is still an area she believes she can improve on even more.
"You have to set goals and that's what I've been trying to do," she said. "It's early but my coach and I are going to sit down and talk about some goals and if I get them, try to keep going higher."
Valley Christian senior Benjamin Tuinstra, the defending State C 110 hurdles champ, began the track events with a win in that event and took second in the 300 hurdles. Tuinstra said he's been training year-round so he could pick up where he left off while adding CrossFit to his routine.
"It is great (to finally compete) because we had two weeks of canceled meets, but I'm really happy with my performance," Tuinstra said. "I'm very happy with my time. I'd like to set a (personal best) every week going forward. I'm not sure how realistic that is but I'm certainly going to be trying and pushing in practice."
Charlo senior Kaitlin Cox, who placed in the triple jump, 100 hurdles and both relays last year at state, also comes into this season with high expectations. As a team, Charlo's girls finished fourth at State C a year ago, and return Cox, senior sprinter Tyrah Hammond, senior hurdler Allie Delaney and sophomore sprinter/hurdler Carlee Fryberger, and figure to be among the team contenders again. Cox won the 100 hurdles and triple jump on Saturday and finished second in the long jump while also serving as a leg of Charlo's 400-relay team that finished in second. Her first jump in the triple went 34-2, good enough for the win and to qualify for state.
Saturday's second-place team finish started the Vikings off on a strong note.
"This is like where I finished at the end of last year so it's good to pick up where I left off instead of starting all over," Cox said. "I was definitely nervous because I haven't gone through a whole set this year. I told the person standing next to me before the start (of the hurdles), 'I hope I don't fall on my face,' because I was nervous but I didn't fall."
The Dillon girls entered as the defending State A champions as well. They finished fourth as a team, with junior sprinter Tylia DeJohn winning the 100 and anchoring Dillon's 400-relay team that also took first. DeJohn is the defending 200 champion and placed second in the 100 last year, losing by .01.
"It'll be a good season," DeJohn said. "Especially for the first meet, we're coming out really well as a team. I for sure want to get the state 100 this year. I'm working harder honestly at trying to get to state as a team and trying to work with our team and show the freshman how to do it. It's so exciting to know the feeling of a (state championship) and it makes you want to work harder for another one."
Hamilton's Brynnli Poulsen walked away from Saturday's meet as a winner in the girls 1,600 and 3,200. Whitefish's Lauren Schulz, who is the defending state champ in the 400, won the 200. Angellica Street of Columbia Falls won the javelin, an event she is the defending State A champ in as well while Seeley-Swan's Terra Bertsch won the pole vault as she begins the defense of her State C crown in that event.
Other winners on the girls side: Josie Windauer, Columbia Falls, 400; Abigail Sherwood, Frenchtown, 800; Olleca Severson, Manhattan, 300 hurdles; Maureen Jessop, Corvallis, high jump; Ashton Lewis, Stevensville, long jump; Peyton Lammerding, Arlee, shot put.
Manhattan's Zak Meeker won the boys 1,600 and 3,200. He's the defending State B 3,200 champ. Hamilton's Jacob Campbell also walked away as a double-winner in the shot put and discus. Dillon's Zane Johnson is also the defending State A champ in the triple jump, an event he won on Saturday.
Other winners on the boys side: Jace Klucewich, Frenchtown, 200; Wyatt Barney, Manhattan, 400; Tyler Schmautz, Frenchtown, 800; Lee Walburn, Whitefish, 300 hurdles; Michael Haverfield, Dillon, high jump; Josh Dudley, Whitefish, pole vault; Ryan Tirrell, Loyola Sacred Heart, long jump; Michael Graves, Hamilton, javelin.