MISSOULA — Elias DeWaters learned how to triple jump less than three months ago.
And the Missoula Sentinel junior is in position to place at the Class AA state meet in the event. He's currently ranked sixth in triple jump among Class AA student-athletes.
"Last year I was going to do it, but I really just never got around to it," DeWaters said. "I was hesitant about it. ... I got into it and I love it. It's a fun event, great event."
He's triple jumped in six meets so far, winning the event four times, including on Thursday at the Greg Rice City Meet.
DeWaters took home the city title in triple jump with a leap of 41 feet, 3 inches.
"I think I'm over-coaching him maybe a little bit because he went 43 his first meet ever and he hasn't hit it back," Sentinel's jumps coach Khalin Anderson said, jokingly. "He's just a great athlete."
DeWaters doesn't just triple jump.
As a sophomore, DeWaters placed fourth in the long jump at the Class AA state meet with a leap of 20-feet, 8¾ inches. He was the only sophomore in the field for that event.
On Thursday, DeWaters topped the 21-foot mark for the first time all season. His season best at 21-1½ is currently tied for 12th among Class AA competition.
But he has bigger goals than that.
"Going into divisionals and state that I'm just really striving to beat that and be top three," DeWaters said. "I think that I have put in the work and I hope that it shows come competition."
DeWaters' two city titles on Thursday helped the Sentinel Spartans win the team title at the Greg Rice Meet on the boys' side.
The Sentinel girls won the team title as well.
In total, Spartans won 19 events with nine on the girls' side and 10 on the boys' side.
"I thought the kids did very well. The attitudes were positive," Sentinel head coach Craig Mettler said. "They embraced the weather, which can be an adverse situation at times. With that said, the theme of the week was 'Expect success.'"
"They ran hard, they threw hard, they jumped hard. It was overall a good day for everybody involved."
The Big Sky girls finished second and the Hellgate boys also finished second.
The Eagles won six events on the girls' side and the Knights took home five individual city titles.
Despite the inclement conditions that lasted for most of the meet, one city meet record fell on Thursday afternoon.
Sentinel sophomore Lauren Heggen blew the triple jump record out of the water, besting the 10-year-old record by 14½ inches.
Heggen's leap of 38-5½ isn't even her best. Last week, Heggen lept 39-7 at the Butte Triangular.
"Lauren has been jumping great all year," Mettler said. "She continues to be consistent and has a couple more years to set a new standard in that event."
[This section has been updated to reflect that only one record was broken on Thursday, not two.]
BACK ON THE TRACK
After Sentinel senior Hudson Shermer won the 100-meter dash, spectators around the finish line repeatedly asked a muffled question: "Who is that guy?"
Shermer was out for most of the season after taking some time off to better his grades. The meet on Thursday was Shermer's second of the season. He last raced in Sentinel's first meet of the season in a dual meet against Kalispell Glacier.
"It felt good today to come back and perform as I did," Shermer said. "I could have gone a little faster, but the weather was pretty poor. Not a bad meet for coming back for the first time."
Shermer took home both the city titles in the 100-meter dash and the 200-meter dash. He was also on Sentinel's winning 400-meter relay.
OTHER MULTIPLE EVENT WINNERS
DeWaters and Shermer weren't the only athletes who won multiple city titles on Thursday.
Sentinel junior Ashley McElmurry won both the 300-meter hurdles and the long jump. She was incredibly close to leaping 18 feet in the long jump.
"She was very, very — as funny as it sounds — disappointed in herself but that's the type of ... we expect success," Mettler said of McElmurry. "And we expect to have certain marks. That's good for her to be frustrated with that."
Heggen, outside of the triple jump, won the 100-meter hurdles too with a time of 15.34.
Big Sky sophomore Whitney Morrison was the lone Eagle to win more than one event. Morrison won both the 200- and 400-meter dashes.
Morrison's time of 1:00.39 was just under a second slower than her personal best — 59.56. That mark is currently third among Class AA runners.
Outside of her two wins, Morrison placed second in the triple jump and third in the long jump.
"Whitney had a great day," Big Sky coach Dan Nile said.
Hellgate nearly swept all six distance races on Thursday.
Will Dauenhauer held off Sentinel's Jonathan Harrison in the 800-meter run. Harrison had the lead at the start of the final stretch before Dauenhauer turned it up a notch, sprinting down the straight-away.
"He was down a stride or two and came back really well," Brooker said of his senior.
Dauenhauer crossed the finish line with a time of 1:57.08 — a new season best. Harrison was right on his heels at 1:57.14 — a two-second personal best.
Isaac Schmidt was four seconds shy of breaking the meet record in the 1,600-meter run and Ian Curtis won the 3,200-meter run.
Elise Stearns was three seconds off of the meet record in the 800-meter run and DeGrandpre's win in the 3,200-meter run helped boost the Hellgate girls in the point totals.
"At Hellgate we knew we weren't going to be in the running for a team championship, we're just not deep enough this year," Hellgate distance coach Anders Brooker said.
" ... We were in a position where we could have kids just do maybe one race and concentrate. Whether it was going to be fast or tactical, try to use today as a stepping stone into divisionals and into state. I think for the most part we got done what we wanted to get done."
The only non-Hellgate distance win came from Big Sky's Maddie Edwards in the 1,600-meter run. And Hellgate's Ellee Becker was right on her heels.
Despite the pouring rain during the mile, Edwards was five seconds shy of hitting the meet record and was within a half-second of her personal best time. Becker finished just a second behind Edwards.
"I felt really good. It was a little bit harder than usual because of the wind and the rain, but I was just trying to keep with Ellee and make sure I could finish as strong as I could," Edwards said.
She added: "I know Ellee's my pace, so having her really helps. Having her on that third lap really pushed me. I wouldn't have ran even close to my time if I didn't have Ellee."
OTHER EVENT WINNERS
Sentinel had several other individual winners on Thursday, with three of them on the girls' side.
Senior Allie Baldwin-Case cruised to win the 100-meter dash with a time of 13.41. The time wasn't her personal best, but i twas her second event win of the season and her first-ever city title.
"She had a great day today to end her senior year career in city with a championship in the 100," Mettler said. "That was awesome."
Senior Madi Arneson took home her first city title as well in the shot put. Arneson topped 40 feet for the third time this season and for the second-consecutive week.
Senior Kylie Frohlich won the javelin on Thursday for her second win in the event all season. The win also gave Frohlich her first city title.
Sentinel had four other event winners on the boys' side.
Senior Brendan Thompson won the 110-meter hurdles, besting his second place finish at the meet last year. Thompson's win, with a time of 15.77, was also his first city title.
"It's my favorite event," Thompson said. "I dedicate a lot of my life to that race. It's always good to run it and it feels good to get the win. It wasn't what I was looking for time-wise but we've still got a lot of season left, so I'm excited."
The other three Sentinel winners came in the field events.
Junior Brock Cantrell-Field — who previously attended Class C St. Regis —won his first city title in the shot put with a toss of 46-foot-8 for a new personal best.
Senior Blake Linsted defended his city title in the discus with a throw of 155-foot-2 for a new personal best.
Junior Rylan Ortt also defended his city title in the javelin on Thursday, winning the event with a throw of 177-foot-4.
Hellgate had several non-distance runners win events too on the boys' side.
Senior Jordan Christian won his first city title in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 41.50. The win was his second win in the event this season.
Though, technically, Christian's teammate Jakub Paisley-Bunch crossed the finish line first, but Paisley-Bunch was ineligible to place because of his mid-year transfer from Big Sky to Hellgate.
Senior Eric Richlie won his first city title in the high jump, clearing 5-foot-11. Richlie is currently tied for fifth among Class AA high jumpers with his personal best mark of 6-foot-3.
Big Sky also had event winners who weren't Morrison and Edwards.
Big Sky won both pole vaulting events, with senior Seth Entzel winning the boys' event and junior Isabella Reed winning the girls' event. The wins were the first city titles for both Entzel and Reed.
Senior Brooke Kearns took home the win, a narrow victory over Sentinel's Arneson, in the discus. Kearns threw five inches farther for a distance of 127-foot-7.5 to win the event, three feet shy of her personal best from last season at state.
Sophomore Ben Maehl took home first place in the 400-meter dash with a season best time of 53.28. The win was Maehl's first of the season and his first city title.
There were 32 performances that qualified Missoula athletes for the state meet.
- Big Sky's Whitney Morrison — 1:00.39
- Hellgate's Will Dauenhauer — 1:57.08
- Sentinel's Jonathan Harrison — 1:57.14
- Hellgate's Elise Stearns — 2:23.84
- Hellgate's Isaac Schmidt — 4:24.80
- Big Sky's Maddie Edwards — 5:10.18
- Hellgate's Ellee Becker — 5:11.22
- Hellgate's Katie Munro — 5:22.53
- Hellgate's Ella DeGrandpre — 11:07.00
- Sentinel's Emma Nelson — 11:19.32
- Sentinel's Lauren Heggen — 15.34
- Sentinel's Ashley McElmurry — 15.46
- Sentinel's Lauren Bingham — 16.20
- Hellgate's Jordan Christian — 41.50
- Sentinel's Ashley McElmurry — 46.52
- Sentinel's Shelby Schweyen — 5-foot-3
- Big Sky's Seth Entzel — 13-foot-6
- Big Sky's Isabella Reed — 10-foot-8
- Hellgate's Mabel Gardner — 10-foot
- Sentinel's Elias DeWaters — 21-foot-1.5
- Sentinel's Ashley McElmurry — 17-foot-11.75
- Sentinel's Lauren Heggen — 17-foot-3.25
- Big Sky's Whitney Morrison — 16-foot-6.5
- Sentinel's Lauren Heggen — 38-foot-5.5
- Big Sky's Whitney Morrison — 36-foot-1.5
- Sentinel's Madi Arneson — 40-foot-1
- Sentinel's Aaliyah Woods — 38-foot-5
- Big Sky's Brooke Kearns — 37-foot-11.5
- Sentinel's Blake Linsted — 155-foot-2
- Sentinel's Brock Cantrell-Field — 152-foot-6.5
- Big Sky's Brooke Kearns — 127-foot-7.5
- Sentinel's Madi Arneson — 127-foot-2.5
- Sentinel's Rylan Ortt — 177-foot-4
This story has been corrected to reflect DeGrandpre's correct time in the 3,200-meter run. Results from the meet originally had her time at 10:43.77, which would have broken the meet record. Upon further inspection by her coaches, she ran a 11:07.00, which did not break the record.