MISSOULA — Klaire Kovatch knew she could break the District 13-C discus record on Saturday.
Her personal best mark, set last week, was 12 feet farther than the distance to beat.
"It's one of those things you try not to think about," Kovatch said. "You try to keep it out of your mind because you really just want to throw your best.
"And then hopefully your best is the best."
But Kovatch had to work for it, as her first two throws flew out of bounds at Missoula County Stadium.
Chalking it up to freshman nerves, the Seeley-Swan Blackhawk simplified things on her third attempt so she could make it into the finals.
Even though she did a half-spin into her throw instead of a full one, Kovatch's third and final throw of prelims moved her into first place — a full 40 feet less than her personal best.
Once the finals rolled around, Kovatch switched from throwing her black and silver discus to her white one.
She scratched again.
With two throws left, Kovatch walked out from the grassy area near the discus ring and over to the sidewalk to go over her spin.
"I was pretty mad," Kovatch said of her scratches. "I just knew I had to fix a couple things, just to get it to straighten out."
On her next throw, with the white discus in hand, Kovatch let out a deep breath before getting into position at the back of the ring.
Kovatch let it rip with a throw of 125 feet, 3 inches, to crush the old record by nearly seven feet.
"I was really thankful that it went in bounds," Kovatch said with a smile. "It felt good."
That record lasted for approximately five minutes before she returned to the ring for her last throw.
Kovatch launched the white discus down the middle of the sector to better her record mark by 18 inches. The new record: 126-9.
"I'm pretty happy with that," Kovatch said. "I was kind of hoping to throw farther, but that's still good. I'm happy with that. I just want to come back next year and break it again."
Even with the record under her belt, Kovatch walked away from the ring with something even better: a little trial of adversity.
"It's good to have days like today where she has to work out of a situation," Seeley-Swan's throws coach, and Klaire's dad, Kal Kovatch said. "... She throws two sectors in a row and might not make finals. Yeah, she already qualified for state, but it's good to learn from that situation a bit. It's good for her in the long run."
Kovatch's record throw, paired with her second-, third- and third-place finishes in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles and javelin helped boost the Blackhawks to the District 13-C title too.
The Blackhawks racked up 198 points on the girls' side, compared to Darby's 118 points.
The Seeley-Swan boys rolled to victory for the team title as well, accumulating 225 points over the two-day meet.
The Darby girls' team may not have had enough people to field a relay team, but they're taking home the District 13-C runner-up trophy.
The three-girl squad of Casey Ehmann, Gracie Lang and Bella Campbell dominated the field to score 118 points.
"We were really trying to get a plaque here at districts, and we only have three girls, so we're all jam-packed with events," Ehmann said.
Ehmann won four individual events — the 100-, 200-meter dashes, and the 100-, 300-meter hurdles. She finished second in her fifth event, the 400-meter dash.
But the 100-meter dash was new for Ehmann. She, a junior, had never run the race before at the high school level.
And she won it.
"I was really surprised," Ehmann said of winning. "I was a little nervous. It was really unexpected."
Lang swept the three distance races and placed third in the 400-meter dash and the triple jump.
Campbell placed second in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs, third in the 800-meter run, fourth in the high jump and fifth in the long jump.
SMALL BUT MIGHTY
Seeley-Swan competes at the Class C level, but its boys' 1,600-meter relay team is currently ranked fifth in the state, regardless of classification.
The closest Class C team to the Blackhawks in time, Scobey, runs the event nearly 10 seconds slower.
The reigning champs' dominance was notable on Saturday.
The four-person team of Logan Robinson, Dakota Wood, Hunter Shelmerdine and Logan Maughan crossed the finish line 18 seconds faster than the second-place team and was within three seconds of breaking the still-standing 37-year-old record.
"We all are talented, that's for sure, but we're all motivated," Maughan said. "We have a competitive, friendly competition between each other. If you looked at us our freshman year, none of us were the bomb athletes for the 400.
"We're all running about the same and we've been pushing each other slowly and building a bond, and pushing each other."
Seeley-Swan had four athletes who won multiple events: Terra Bertsch, Robinson, Maughan and Shelmerdine.
Bertsch took home district titles in both the high jump and pole vault. Robinson won the 100- and 200-meter dashes. Maughan won the 800- and 1,600-meter runs and Shelmerdine won the 400-meter dash and the triple jump.
Seeley had multiple single event winners as well, including Lily Mercer (400-meter dash), Lulu Bohlmann (long jump), Ashley Miller (triple jump), Caleb Maughan (high jump), Cameron Haines (long jump), Chance Johnson (discus) and Nate Samuli (javelin). They also swept all four relays.
"From here on out, it's a two-day deal," Seeley-Swan head coach Mike Haines said. "... I like to see us steadily getting better each week. That's a really positive sign for me."
Hailey Kelly of Clark Fork was the lone non-Seeley-Swan or Darby girl to win an event during the meet. She won both the javelin and the shot put. Two of her teammates on the boys' side, Jesse Shaske and Trey Green, took home titles. Shaske won the 3,200-meter run and Green won the shot put.
The only non-Seeley-Swan boy to win multiple events was Valley Christian's Benjamin Tuinstra.
Tuinstra cruised to win both the 110- and 300-meter hurdles and racked up 36 points by himself.
Hunter Woodward of Lincoln was the only Lynx taking home an individual title. He cleared the 11-foot mark to win the pole vault.
There were five performances on Friday and Saturday that automatically qualified District 13-C athletes for the state meet.
- Darby's Casey Ehmann — 16.10
- Seeley-Swan boys — 3:33.35
- Seeley-Swan's Klaire Kovatch — 126-foot-9
- Clark Fork's Hailey Kelley — 108-foot-7
- Seeley-Swan's Ashley Miller — 33-foot-11½