Early Saturday afternoon there was a growing sense that the girls' 1,600 relay would not only complete the Western B Divisional meet, allowing the fans packed into the grandstands at Dornblaser Stadium to get out of the rain, but it would in all likelihood determine the division champion.
Plains and Bigfork, which waged a two-day battle for the crown, went back and forth on the event's final day with the Trotters holding a three-point lead going into the final event.
With two freshmen making up half of her team, Bigfork coach Sue Loeffler admitted there were words of advice given before the consequential race, they just didn't come from her.
"Makena (Morley) kind of takes care of that," said Loeffler of her senior leader.
Along with her younger sister, Bryn, Makena anchored the Vals' relay team that took first, finishing just shy of a meet record and earning Bigfork a divisional title in the process topping the Trotters, 155-154.
It completed a weekend sweep for Bigfork, which had little trouble on the boys' side of things beating Thompson Falls 128-69.
"With the girls, that was just amazing," Loeffler said. "I honestly don't know if we knew at divisionals we could go head-to-head that close with them. I knew we could at state, but I wasn't sure we could do it at divisionals."
The Vals needed every point they could squeeze out of the meet to top Hailey Phillips and her troupe of throwers and sprinters that have captured the previous two Class B state titles.
The Morleys did what they do best, running past everybody on the track in the distance races; Bryn took the 800 to begin the day, and Makena won the 3,200 closing the individual events. In addition, Haile Norred added valuable points in a number of sprints and Marissa Hiza picked up a few in the high jump and triple jump.
"It was cool the way the girls performed," Loeffler said.
Phillips, who won five events during the two-day meet and set two divisional records, received plenty of help from the likes of Kayla Holmes, Leah Thompson and Shannon Dimond, but it wasn't enough to hold off Bigfork.
Phillips took the 110 hurdles, following it with a win in the 100. She then broke her own meet record set last season in the 300 hurdles, crossing the line in 44.58 seconds. About 30 minutes later she won the 200.
It seemed that every time Phillips left the infield to prepare for her next event, the public address announcer summoned her back to the podium so she could have another first-place medal draped around her neck.
"Pretty much all day I didn’t really have a break," Phillips said. "I was warming up for my events and they were like come to the awards tent and I’m like I can’t right now, I have a next event to do. It makes it a little hectic sometimes."
In almost every race she won, Phillips points were supplemented by another Trotter. Not only did the extra points aid the Trotters' pursuit of the Vals, but it made for interesting score watching throughout the day -- that is for everyone but the teams' coaches.
Loeffler and Plains' Denise Montgomery both conceded that they weren't aware how close the teams were.
It wasn't until after the 100 that the Trotters were able to take the lead. They held it for much of the day until the Morleys ran away from the field in the 3,200 to further tighten the teams' scores in the day's penultimate event.
Makena, who has established herself as long-distance royalty during her for years at Bigfork, admitted there were some pre-race jitters stemming from an iron deficiency that was diagnosed earlier this year.
"I was a little worried about two mile because that’s where iron affects you most on the longer races," said Morley, who finished second to Bryn in the 1,600 Friday. "But I was just like go out steady and then it was like OK, just keep going. It was nice to be able to actually have a little bit left at the end to keep going because last week I was about the same on the first mile and I really died off in the end."
Thompson Falls came in third on the strength of an impressive performance from Autrey Hannum in the jumps. The Bluehawks sophomore won the triple jump and finished second to her older sister, Shey, in the high jump.
"There was a lot of competition and the coaches were with me the whole way and my sister helped out a lot," Autrey said.
While the Vals labored to stay in front of the Trotters, the Vikings had no such issues.
"With the boys we knew were strong going in and we knew we would have to falter a lot not to get it," said Loeffler. "Even with that we had some boys that just stepped in and really competed well."
Behind the performance of Logan Morley, Tyler Iverson and Carson Cantrel, Bigfork opened a lead on Day 1 and then added to it Saturday.
Morley added titles in the 1,600 and 3,200 to his victory in the 800 Friday. After taking top honors in the pole vault and second in the 110 hurdles on Day 1, Cantrell edged Ronan's Bryce Cullen by 0.04 seconds in the 300 hurdles.
Iverson's toss of 159-03 easily bested the competition in the discus.
Troy finished third with 69 points, 40 of which were contributed by Sean Opland. The junior Trojan won the 100, 200 and high jump after taking the 400 Friday.