BILLINGS — Billings West senior Ryan DeVries sat in class Tuesday thinking about his upcoming 110-meter hurdles race. More specifically, he was thinking about one opponent: Huntley Project senior Noah Bouchard.
Entering Tuesday, the 6-foot-7 Bouchard had the top boys 110 hurdles time (14.71 seconds) among all Montana classifications. DeVries was second (15.03). Both were mostly focused on setting new personal records at West’s five-team meet, but DeVries couldn’t resist the thoughts of beating the only hurdler ahead of him.
Bouchard won the 110 hurdles with a time of 14.8 seconds. DeVries, who ran in a lane bordering Bouchard’s, finished runner-up at 15.46.
Tuesday was the first time Bouchard and DeVries competed in the same 110 hurdles race, and they'll only get one or two more chances (West is a Class AA school, and Project is in Class B). DeVries is especially eager for a rematch.
“I was focused on trying to beat him and trying to get out in front of him more than just looking down at the track and running my race,” DeVries said. “I feel like I'll get him next time around.”
Bouchard’s personal-best 14.71-second 110 hurdles run happened at the Laurel/Park City Invite on Saturday. He also posted a mark of 6 feet, 10 inches in the high jump at that meet, surpassing the Class B boys record of 6-9 (he didn’t officially break the record because that can only be done at state meets).
Bouchard scratched in the long jump, which he’s won three times this season, and placed 11th in the 100-meter dash at the Laurel/Park City Invite. Before that meet, he hadn’t competed in the 100 or the triple jump. He placed second in the latter event Saturday with a jump of 40-11.
At Tuesday's West meet, Bouchard won the boys javelin (PR 148-06) and finished second in the long jump (20-05) to Billings Central sophomore Clay Oven (20-09). It was Bouchard's third javelin competition of his high school career and first this season.
Two years ago, Bouchard won the State B high jump (6-8), placed second in the 110 hurdles (14.94) and was fifth in the long jump (20-9½). Only Project’s Bradley Graves finished ahead of Bouchard in the state 110 hurdles (14.14), and their teammate Chris Hust was third (15.13). Graves now runs at Montana State, and Hust competes for the Dickinson State track team.
“I've worked pretty hard at this, and I can thank Brad and Chris,” Bouchard said Tuesday. “I’m trying to pick up things they used to do, especially Brad, and try to put them in my racing. I’m doing pretty good so far.”
Bouchard wonders how good his marks would be this season if COVID-19 didn’t force spring sports to be canceled last year. But he’s not dwelling on that, especially now that he’s setting PRs.
“I was discouraged at the beginning because last track season we didn't have it. I tried to shake off the cobwebs,” Bouchard said. “I was able to finally hit my marks and love track again.”
Bouchard is one of the state’s best high school basketball players who led the Red Devils to a third-place finish at last month’s State B tournament. He said he’s received college interest mainly from the University of Providence in Great Falls and Dawson Community College in Glendive, where his brother, Isaiah, plays.
Bouchard has heard from Division I programs for track, and he’s narrowed down his top choices to three schools: Montana and the Pac-12’s Arizona State and Colorado. He hasn’t decided yet if he wants to focus on track or basketball at the next level.
“They're both really fun,” Bouchard said. “It's a tough decision to make.”
Running beside him Tuesday, DeVries thought Bouchard’s 110 hurdles form could use some work. If/when Bouchard’s technique improves, “he’ll be dangerous,” DeVries said.
“Some of us aren’t blessed with those limbs that he has,” DeVries said. “He accelerated off the hurdle really well, and once he got on the ground he moved to that next hurdle.”
Bouchard enjoyed the opportunity to race DeVries, although he didn’t dedicate all that much mental energy to the head-to-head matchup. The outcome of any individual race is less important to Bouchard than his personal progression.
“It was fun to get some competition in there and just have a good race,” Bouchard said. But “I’m not really trying to compete against the other kids. I’m trying to compete against my times and just get better.”