Nearly three hours into the Western C divisional track meet Saturday at Missoula County Stadium, the duel between Seeley-Swan and Plains for the divisional girls' title hadn't budged. The two programs were still separated by the same 57-50 margin that stood since Friday's action concluded.
But around 2 p.m. when Seeley's Stephanie Robbins crossed the line second in the 1,600 meters to increase the Blackhawks' advantage, a new competition developed. The final hours became a race between Seeley and Mother Nature, with points and precipitation as the standards.
Robbins' finish contributed the first points in a barrage that propelled Seeley (89 points) to the divisional title over Plains and Ennis, tied at 70. They were posted to the scoreboard at the exact moment the clouds that had threatened throughout the day finally broke, emptying their contents in a downpour that drenched the day's final events.
It didn't seem to matter to the Blackhawks.
"We ran 2 seconds faster than we have in our (1,600) relay and that was probably when it was the wettest," Seeley-Swan coach Mike Haines said.
Seeley also picked up 10 points from Alex Bohlman's win in the 200 to clinch what many thought to be a preview of the Class C State meet next week at Missoula County Stadium. Seeley finished second at last year's State C meet and Plains, stocked with throwers, was the three-time defending Class B champion before dropping a class in the offseason.
And Ennis, with Wrenzi Wrzesinski, a spark plug who zoomed past the competition in the hurdles and nearly did the same in the short sprints, added depth to an already strong field. Just beyond the top three was a group of four schools separated by 10 points.
"There's no room for error," Haines said.
Unfortunately for Plains, they were without Jessica Thompson, one of the class' best in the discus and shot put, as she decided to play the weekend with the school's softball team. Her presence may not have pushed the Trotters past the Blackhawks, but it certainly would have broken the tie with the Mustangs.
Regardless, Seeley's depth on the track was too much. All 32 of the points the Blackhawks scored on Day 2 came on the track and the vast majority of it in the meet's closing events.
"With Stephanie coming back strong and Alex -- it was a nice day," Haines said.
Ennis made a charge early as Wrzesinksi, whose middle name is Wrace, ran away with the 100 and 300 hurdles. One of the shortest girls on the track, the freshman from Ennis had little trouble racking up points. She combined the two golds with a second in the 100 and a third in the 200.
"It's been exciting -- it's awesome winning," Wrzesinski said of her first divisional meet. "It's nerve racking, but my dad is always telling me I need to keep my head in the game and focus."
Wrzesinski's mom and dad were both in the infield Saturday, as was her brother, Cleet, a sophomore star for the Mustang boys' sprints. Cleet did one better than his younger sister, who says there is no sibling rivalry, winning both hurdles races and then taking the 200.
He finished second to Charlo's Michael Delaney in the 100, but the 38 points he scored helped Ennis claim a 96-79 win over Manhattan Christian. Already qualified in each of his races, the team title was on Wrzesinski's mind.
"That's the main motivation," Wrzesinksi said. "And then just try to better myself and work hard."
Charlo came from back in the pack, scoring 43 points to jump into the top three on the final day. Delaney contributed 24, and the Vikings also won the 1,600 relay. Charlo also picked up eight points with Dugan Runkel's second-place finish in the shot put.
Drummond's Mark Estes won the long jump with a leap of 21 feet, 8 inches to go along with a first-place jump in the triple, which set a meet record on Friday.
The Class C state meet begins Friday at Missoula County Stadium with running events getting started at 10:30 a.m.