Western B, C divisionals

Loyola Sacred Heart's Ridger Palma, lane six, competes in the 100-meter dash prelims Friday at the Western B, C divisional meet in Missoula.

MISSOULA — It wasn't the best track weather, per say, but it could have been worse.

With temps in the mid-to-low 40s and rain looming most of the morning and early afternoon, athletes at the Western B-C divisional track meet at Missoula County Public Stadium weathered the cold and dreary day.

It wasn't nearly as cold as other parts of the state, where actual snowfall hit, but athletes, spectators and coaches were bundled up making it look more like an early April meet than a late May one. 

On the track, the Missoula Loyola Sacred Heart boys squad continued its hot racing in the short-distance events.

The Rams entered divisionals with the 10th-best 4x100-meter relay team in the state regardless of classification with a personal record of 44.26 seconds. On Friday, the squad beat its previous PR to keep momentum rolling and take the Western B crown with a time of 44.15.

Entering the state meet next week, the Rams' relay squad is the top team in Class B after its season-best performance Friday afternoon.

A relay team's success is predicated on chemistry. All four runners have to be in tune with each other from their individual steps to their hand-offs.

Each runner has their own role, too. The starter has to get off the blocks quick and handle the curve while the second gets the quick straightaway into the final curve. Once the third gets out of the final curve, in comes the anchor and the often-exciting final sprint and close calls.

There needs to be excitement among the group. Celebrations are constant no matter the outcome. Relay teams stick together before their event, warming up together and keeping close until separating to their starting spots across the track.

"The goal is to take state for the 4x100 and to just have fun," Loyola Sacred Heart sprinter Ridger Palma said. " ... The big thing is make sure we get our steps down and hype each other up right before the race and right after regardless of the result."

Palma is a pretty integral part of that success. The junior entered second in the state regardless of classification in the 400 (49.58) and fourth in the 200 (22.51). He holds the top marks in Class B in both events and took first in the 200 prelims in 23.01 and the title in the 400 finals in 50.74.

Palma entered the day sixth in Class B in the 100, and he qualified for Saturday's Western B finals by taking first in the event with a new PR of 11.29, moving him into second in Class B, just .02 behind first.

He enters Saturday with the fastest time in the Western B field.

Throwing into state

Between Klaire Kovatch and Walker McDonald, Seeley-Swan has some of the best throwers in Class C and the state.

McDonald continued his torrid throwing season with a Western C title in the boys shot put with a new PR of 51 feet, 9.75 inches. He has been the top thrower in the state regardless of classification most of the season.

He will aim for the boys discus title Saturday along with Kovatch in the girls discus.

Kovatch, meanwhile, placed second in the girls shot put with a toss of 35 feet, 0.5 inches. She also took second in the javelin, throwing 120 feet, 9.5 inches.

Team results

Through one day, Bigfork leads both the Class B girls and boys races with 82 and 52 points. The Seeley-Swan girls lead Class C with 48, and Manhattan Christian leads Class C boys with 48.

The Western B-C divisional meet continues with its final day Saturday at MCPS.

Lance Hartzler covers Griz men's basketball and prep sports for the Missoulian. Follow him on Twitter at @lance_hartz or shoot him an email at Lance.Hartzler@406mtsports.com.

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