LAUREL -- Last year, brothers Connor and Kelly Murnion nearly led Jordan to a Class C state track and field title by themselves.
This year, with more power in their arsenal, the duo again has the Mustangs in contention for the ultimate prize after placing third a year ago.
Connor Murnion won the long jump and Kelly Murnion placed second in the 400, giving Jordan 18 points and a strong position in second place after the first day of the state meet at the Laurel Sports Complex. The Mustangs trail team leaders Ennis and Darby, who are tied with 20 points apiece.
Connor Murnion was most surprised by his long-jump victory, even though he executed Class C’s top leap at his divisional tournament last week. His jump of 21-10¾ in the preliminary round on Friday was never really challenged.
Murnion placed fifth in the long jump last season, and said his win came down to “better drills at practice, just working on form. I’m really surprised.”
“I guess I had the farthest (jump) in the state, but that doesn’t mean anything at this meet,” he added. “Anybody can win it. I only made two jumps in the prelims, and then I just waited to see if anybody could out-jump me. Nobody did.”
Murnion stands to score more points Saturday, with the 100, 200, the high jump and the triple jump looming. Kelly Murnion will run the 100, 200 and compete in the triple jump, and Ty Stanton could also give the Mustangs a boost in the high jump and triple jump events.
“It takes a lot” to be in contention with so few athletes, Connor Murnion said. “Everybody has to do well in their events -- first place or second place, or at least place high in all of them.
“Hopefully we can be over the top. Last year we were close. I only had three events and my brother had four, but I’ve got two more this year. Hopefully it will add up.”
Like Jordan’s boys, West Yellowstone’s girls nearly won a state title with just two athletes last season when Bailee Parker and Jewlz Collins scored enough points on their own for the second-place trophy.
Parker and Collins, now juniors, scored a combined 14 points on Friday to stake the Wolverines to a second-place tie with Darby. North Star is in first place with 16 points.
Parker captured her third consecutive title in the 1,600 meters, racing to victory in 5:06.19. True to form, Parker grabbed the lead on the opening lap and added to it incrementally to cross the line 12 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher.
“I run better in front rather than having to catch somebody, so that’s always kind of how I do it,” Parker said. “I start the first lap and get in front, get the placing that I need, and from there I try to open up the gap.”
Parker looks to win her third straight title in the 800 meters on Saturday, and a second championship in the 3,200. Collins, meanwhile, has the 200, the 300-meter hurdles and the 1,600 relay (along with Parker and teammates Kestly Jessop and Sirenia Vazquez) remaining.
“We have a good chance,” Parker said, “if everything goes the way it’s supposed to.”
- Jordan Marsh of Reed Point-Rapelje had a big day on Friday, winning the boys discus title by topping his season-best throw by more than 3½ feet. Marsh’s throw of 142 feet, 6 inches was more than enough to outlast top-seeded Derek Heggen of White Sulphur Springs.
- Winnett-Grass Range’s Shelby Browning placed third in the long jump last season, but she came out on top of the event on Friday, matching her personal record of 17-feet (a school-record mark she set earlier in the year). It was the first-ever title for the junior.
“I was struggling at the beginning of the year and I had to work hard to get to where I am now,” Browning said. “I’ve always wanted to win state and I’ve always wanted to break records. This was a fun year.”
- Ennis grabbed the team lead on the strength of its performance in the field events, namely a win by Walker McKitrick in the pole vault. On Saturday, the Mustangs should be aided further points-wise by sprinter/hurdler Cleet Wrzesinski.