FRENCHTOWN — Ahead of his first-ever high school track meet, Frenchtown freshman Jace Klucewich felt butterflies in his stomach.
The Bronc wasn't nervous over performance hopes, but rather how the meet would go in general.
"I didn't know what to expect," Klucewich said.
Klucewich competed in three individual events at the Jim Johnson Invitational: the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash and the long jump.
He won all three.
Klucewich said he didn't expect to win all of his individual events in his first meet.
"I was surprised that I did so well," he said. "... I feel pretty good. I'm excited for more."
Klucewich — a first-team all-conference wide receiver and return specialist on the gridiron — also anchored the 400-meter relay. The Broncs won that one too.
All three of Klucewich's individual performances — 11.10 seconds in the 100, 23. seconds in the 200, and 20 feet, 3 inches in the long jump — currently lead the state regardless of classification. His time in the 100 automatically qualified him for the state meet.
"Last year, kinda following him through middle school. We knew the kind of potential that he would have coming up to high school," Frenchtown sprints coach Ryne Nelson said of Klucewich. "Even the times he was running last year as an eighth grader, he would have been competitive in high school then.
"I was certainly excited for him to get out here and run and see what he was capable of and obviously the results kinda speak for themselves after today."
Klucewich said his personal best in the 100 as an eighth grader was 11.5 seconds. That mark would have placed second at the Class A state meet last year.
Klucewich's performances helped boost the Broncs to victory. The Frenchtown boys racked up 174 points. Class C Seeley-Swan came in second with 65 points.
Klucewich wasn't the only Bronc finishing first.
Frenchtown senior Brock Rugg won both the 800-meter run and the 1,600-meter run races for the Broncs, and ran on the second-place 1600-meter relay team.
Fellow Bronc senior Adam Botkin cleared 6 feet, 2 inches in the high jump after two seasons of not competing in track and field. Botkin said his Thursday jump was a full foot higher than his freshman year best.
He had some growing pains to help thank for that.
"I had a big growth spurt between freshman and junior year, like nine inches or something, so I felt pretty uncoordinated," Botkin said. "Coming out, I didn't know if I'd do well. This year, senior year, I figured why not."
Botkin's performance automatically qualified him for state and ties him for the third-best across the state right now, regardless of classification, with Corvallis' Ridge Albright.
Other Frenchtown winners on the boys' side: Luke Lutz in the 3200-meter run, freshman Jeffrey Jacobs in the 300-meter hurdles and Jesse Mecham in the shot put.
SEELEY-SWAN EDGES OUT FRENCHTOWN IN 1600-METER RELAY
The Blackhawks have been on the track just twice this season — last week at Corvallis and on Thursday in Frenchtown — because there's still multiple feet of snow on their track.
"We still have 3½ feet of snow on our field, so we've been doing all of our workouts in the gym," Hunter Shelmerdine, a junior, said.
That didn't hold the defending Class C state champion 1600-meter relay team back.
In the last event of the day, the team of Logan Robinson, Shelmerdine, Soren Moon and Dakota Wood was victorious, just edging out Frenchtown by less than a tenth of a second.
Wood, a sophomore, began to pass Frenchtown's Rugg with around five meters to go before the finish.
"The defending state champs, just trying to keep it," Shelmerdine said. " ... We're already 15 seconds ahead of where we were last year."
The 1600-meter relay wasn't the only Seeley-Swan victory of the day for the boys.
Nate Samuli, a junior, won the javelin with a throw of 150 feet, 9½ inches.
FORT BENTON GIRLS TOP FRENCHTOWN FOR FIRST PLACE AT MEET
Fort Benton scored three more points than Frenchtown to win the Jim Johnson Invitational. Fort Benton racked up 101 points, while Frenchtown had 98. Third-place Deer Lodge scored 62½.
Fort Benton, a Class C school in Chouteau County, had four event wins on Thursday, including two wins from junior Leah Gannon. Nicole Axtman brought home the triple jump title. And the 400-meter relay team of Aspen Geise, Abby Clark, Gannon and Axtman won as well.
The Broncs had four event wins on Thursday as well, including senior Alivia Williams' blistering fast 100-meter dash and sophomore Faith Rebich's speedy 400-meter dash.
Abigail Sherwood cruised across the finish line to win the 1,600-meter run in just under six minutes and the 1600-meter relay team of Madeleine Boller, Faith Rebich, Hope Rebich and Olivia Channer won the meet too in 4:27.00 — as the second-fastest team in the state regardless of classification so far this season.
Not only Klucewich and Rugg took home multiple first-place finishes.
Thompson Falls' Danny Hoisington finished first in the 110-meter high hurdles and the triple jump.
On the girls' side, three athletes racked up multiple wins.
Plains' Jessica Thompson won both the shot put and the javelin on Thursday, while Deer Lodge's Kamryn Scully won the 100-meter high hurdles and the pole vault.
Thompson, a senior, is the reigning Class C champion in the shot put and discus.
Gannon, out of Fort Benton, won the long jump and the 800-meter run.
Including Klucewich and Botkin, there were 19 performances on Thursday at the Jim Johnson invitational dominant enough to qualify for state.
Klucewich's noteworthy 100-meter dash was the only event on the track to qualify thus far.
Deer Lodge's reigning discus state champion and current Class B discus record holder Austin Forson dominated the boys' discus on Thursday with a toss of 187 feet, 4 inches. That mark easily qualified him for state and launched him into the No. 3 spot currently nationwide for discus. Forson's throw on Saturday bested his personal best of 178 feet, 8 inches by nearly 10 feet.
Seeley-Swan's Klaire Kovatch heaved the 1-kilogram metal pancake 123 feet, 11½ inches — a personal best for the freshman. That mark is second in state right now, behind CMR's Sydnie Garten. As an eighth grader last season, Kovatch broke the Seeley Lake Elementary school record in the discus with a throw of 123 feet, 7 inches. That would have placed second at last year's Class C state meet.
Kovatch wasn't the only girl reaching state distances.
Plains senior Jessica Thompson placed second on Thursday at the meet with a toss of 117 feet, 11½ inches to qualify for state. And her fellow senior teammate Kara Altmiller qualified as well with a throw of 112 feet, 8 inches for a new personal best.
Frenchtown junior Jesse Mecham bested last week's state qualifying toss by more than two feet. His throw of 50 feet, 3 inches on Thursday is currently second in the state right now and just 5½ inches off his personal best, set at last year's Western A Divisional meet.
Both Thompson and Deer Lodge sophomore Amy Fjell-Hagan hit their respective state marks on Thursday. Thompson's throw of 39 feet, 2½ inches currently leads the state and Fjell-Hagan's toss of 35 feet, 0½ inches is currently fourth.
Thompson set a new personal best in the javelin on Thursday with a toss of 125 feet, 6 inches. That mark is currently third statewide.
Botkin wasn't the only one to qualify for state in the high jump on Thursday.
Deer Lodge junior Dyllon McDermid and Drummond junior Jonah Parke both cleared the 6-foot mark, placing second and third.
Drummond's Morgan Radtke and St. Ignatius' Karolyna Buck cleared the state qualifying mark in high jump too. Radtke won the event with a leap of 5 feet, 2 inches, while Buck came in second, clearing the 5-foot mark.
Three girls made the cut on Thursday: Fort Benton junior Leah Gannon and freshman Aspen Geise and Frenchtown senior Alivia Williams.
Gannon's 17-foot leap is a personal best and leads the state. Williams placed second with her 16 foot, 1 inch jump on Thursday and Geise's 15 foot, 11½ inch jump placed third.
Williams is currently fourth statewide with that jump and Geise ranks seventh right now.
Thompson Falls' Danny Hoisington hopped, skipped and jumped 41 feet, 4½ inches on Thursday to claim first place at the meet. He's currently ranked third among Class B triple jumpers around the state.
Deer Lodge junior Kamryn Scully reached the Class B qualifying mark of 9 feet on Thursday to secure her spot at state. Scully, who placed fourth at state last year in the event, has a personal best of 9 foot, 6 inches.