KALISPELL — Delaney Bahn was aware of the expectations for her, but she knew exactly how to handle them.
Rather than worry about the fact that she was a clear favorite to break at the all-class long jump record, the second-oldest all-class record on the books, the Bozeman senior took it one step at a time and treated Friday’s opening day to the State AA track and field meet as any other.
But for her, just another meet turned into a historic one.
Bahn won the girls long jump with a leap of 19 feet, 3¾ inches to reset the all-class mark. The old record was set in 1979 by former Kalispell Flathead great Lexi Miller at 18-11.25.
Bahn came into the state meet at 19-11.25, exactly one foot better than the old record. But that didn’t make the victory any less sweet.
“I think it's super relieving and exciting since those were my last jumps in high school,” Bahn said. “I’m just glad I was able to get that out and have it stick there hopefully for a good long time.
“If I thought about it too much there definitely was pressure but I try not to let the numbers or these expectations get to me because that would freak me out and I won’t do well. So I didn’t think about it. I was just like let’s do the best I can.”
Bahn accomplished the feat on her second jump in the prelims, but that was all she needed. Bahn took third in the high jump as well on the first day of what could be a big weekend for her as Bozeman’s girls lead the State AA meet after the first day with 56 points. Billings West sits in second with 32 and Helena High is third at 25. Bozeman also got a win in the 1,600 from junior Terra Trom. Bozeman placed three in the 1,600 and sophomore Addi Ekstrom added a second-place finish in the 400.
Bahn came into the state meet with the best marks in the 100 and 200 sprints as well as the long and high jumps.
“I just have to stay focused,” Bahn said about the rest of her meet. “You can’t think about everything at once. You have to stay focused on what you’re doing in that moment.”
Sentinel’s boys lead big
The Missoula Sentinel boys had high expectations coming into the state meet, but even they exceeded what they were hoping for on the opening day.
Senior Elias Dewaters won the long jump and junior Jaden Foster took the 400 title to pace the Spartans to a 55-point first day. West’s boys were second with 37 with Flathead just behind them at 33.
Dewaters leaped 22-05.50, a new personal best for him, to win the state title.
“It’s just unbelievable to think that I came back,” Dewaters said. “I had a rough season last year and to come back off of that and work with my coaches and have all of the support with my team and my family and to come back and be a state champion in the long jump is pretty sweet.”
Senior Brock Field took second in the shot put while the Spartans placed three in the high jump, including freshman Zac Crews who took second. Sentinel’s 400-relay also took second behind West and senior Noah McNelis added a fourth-place finish in the 800.
“The fact that we can get this big lead after being projected second and come out in first on day one is amazing,” Dewaters, who heads into Saturday with the best triple jump mark, added.
The only person Ben Perrin needed to chase on Friday in the 3,200 was his older brother Jake.
Sure, Jake is a junior at Gonzaga right now, but Ben never trailed on his way to his second straight AA 3,200 title.
And while his goal was to ultimately win state, the younger Perrin wanted to challenge his brother’s all-class record of 9:04.35 which he set in 2016. He didn’t get it, winning at 9:25.07, but the moment served as a special one.
“It means a lot. The goal at the end of every season is to win a state title,” Perrin said. “That’s all you can ask for at the end of the day. I’m blessed to have that so I’m super stoked.”
“Nobody was telling me to do this just because my older brothers ran. It was a choice I made. I love the sport so I went out there and try to carry on the tradition. The best part is being able to finish on my home track.”
Perrin will head into Saturday as the favorite to win the 1,600 as well. Teammate Kyle Calles won the 800 to help move the Braves into the third-place spot.
The past two years, Helena’s Trey Tintinger has captivated crowds at the State AA meet on his way to winning back-to-back high jump championships and setting the all-class record in 2017.
He didn’t compete on Friday due to injury, but Billings Skyview’s Julius Mims picked up where he left off. Mims, a junior, won at 6-foot-9, and nearly eclipsed the 6-11 mark on his first attempt which created a large “ooh” from the crowd before his heel clipped the bar and knocked it off.
Still, all eyes were on him down the stretch and the crowd was silent when he prepared and the ovation a loud one when Mims’ work was finished.
“On that first attempt, I really felt it. I thought I got it,” Mims said. “I just have to keep my arch and my legs (up). For sure next year, for sure,” adding that his goal is to eclipse 7 feet next season as a senior.
West’s Carter Slade opened the day with a win in the shot put, tossing a personal best 54-03 to put the Golden Bears in contention for a trophy. That toss was over 2 feet better than his previous best.
Slade is also the favorite to win the AA discus as he enters Saturday’s event with the best mark.
“I was just thinking speed (my routine) up,” Slade said of his throw. “Once I got to the front and released, it was nice and smooth and it seems like no weight behind it and that’s when you know it’s a pretty good throw.”
Helena freshman Odessa Zentz capped off her stellar first high school season with a win in the 400. Being a freshman, the jitters were there, but that didn’t matter in the end.
“I think that I worked really hard all season to get here,” Zentz said. “I was pretty nervous because it was state. I knew that I had a lead going on in the race but I always race thinking that there’s someone chasing me.”
Other winners from Friday’s meet included Flathead senior Madison Boles (girls high jump), Billings Senior senior Maisee Brown (girls pole vault), Hellgate junior Piper Pfister (girls javelin) and West junior LaKeema Williams (girls shot put). Bozeman senior Jameson Slevin also won the pole vault. Both of West’s 400-relay teams won as well.