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STATE A/C TRACK: Corvallis' Haldorson completes four-peat in discus, Darby's Ehmann, Hamilton's Graves, Poulsen also champs
STATE A/C TRACK

STATE A/C TRACK: Corvallis' Haldorson completes four-peat in discus, Darby's Ehmann, Hamilton's Graves, Poulsen also champs

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LAUREL — The Montana High School Association's girls' track records are in need of a bit of updating thanks to Corvallis' Calla Haldorson and her performance at the State A track and field meet last weekend in Laurel.

While Haldorson's toss of 147 feet, 7 inches didn't break the state record for distance in the discus, it was plenty long enough to capture the Corvallis senior her fourth straight state title in the event.

And that's unprecedented. 

Haldorson is just the 26th girl in Montana state history to accomplish a four-peat in any one event at the state track and field meet. 

But she's the first ever to do it in the discus.

Haldorson told 406mtsports.com on Saturday that she felt some pressure to win it all this season.

“Yeah, it’s been a difficult year for that. But I’m glad made it,” the soft-spoken Haldorson said.

On paper, Haldorson never had need for the nerves. The Blue Devil won every discus event she entered in Montana her senior season and her junior season. Her state title-winning throw over the weekend not only bested second place by more than 16 feet, it would have won the event in every single classification from Class AA to Class C.

Haldorson, for at least the last four years, has unquestionably been the best in the event. Her personal-best throw of 153-05 last season during the regular season would rank fifth-best all-time at any classification at a any meet, per the MHSA, and this year's throw at state would crack the leaderboard's Top 5 at a state meet.

Although she doesn't own the official state record in the event (154-11, Leah Thompson, Plains, 2016) — a number that certainly served as a goal — Haldorson is still arguably the best at the event Montana has ever seen.

"She's certainly been one of the most consistent overall at 140 feet. It seems like the past three years she's been over 140 feet at pretty much every meet," Corvallis throwing coach Garrett Middleton said. "That's one of the things I haven't looked up, though. Records for us aren't too important, it's a matter of doing your best every time out.

"...Records are always going to be broken, but nobody can ever take away state championships."

And Haldorson now has four to hold onto forever.

***

Hamilton's Brynnli Poulsen also has a state title she never has to relinquish, even if it came in an event she never planned on competing in at the beginning of the season.

The sophomore long-distance runner took up the 800 for the first time at the Bob Reed meet in Corvallis on April 27 and had just three regular season races to prepare for the event before divisionals. She won all three of those races. Then she won again at divisionals. 

And then she won at state.

Poulsen's state title-winning time of 2 minutes 17.86 seconds in Laurel was a personal best and nearly 11 seconds faster than when she started running the event less than a month earlier.

"She had immediate success at it and I guess the rest, you can say, is history," Hamilton track coach John Stromberg said. "She won it the first time out, the second time out she sets a school record and the next two times she breaks her own school record.

"And then she wins a state championship."

According to 406mtsports.com, Poulsen's dad had been urging her to run the 800 since the sophomore was in eighth grade. 

“I was always like, no, I hate the 800, it’s the worst race. And then I tried it one meet (this year) and my time bumped right up to the best in the state and I was, well, all right, I guess I’m running the 800," Poulsen said last weekend. “I still don’t know if I like (the race),” she added, “but it’s fun to win.”

Poulsen likely has more state titles to win in her future, too. The sophomore finished second in both the 1,600 and the 3,200 to Polson senior and long-distance phenom Bea Frissell. Frissell and Poulsen also finished 1-2, respectively, at last fall's Class A state cross country meet.

But Poulsen is No. 1 in the 800, and has to be the odds on favorite in the other long-distance events in the future.

***

Poulsen wasn't the only Bronc to bring home a state title, as Hamilton's Michael Graves captured his goal — a state title in the javelin — that had been a focus since finishing just short from that mark a season ago.

Graves' throw of 184-11 gave the Hamilton senior the Class A state title by more than 12 feet last weekend and it would have been good enough to win it all in 2018, too.

Last season it was Corvallis' Zach Jessop's toss of 181-04 that captured state gold, and it edged Graves by just one foot. Graves had the lead into Jessop's last throw of the competition.

The Corvallis senior sent it exactly 12 inches past Graves' mark and the then-junior watched a state title slip through his fingers.

Last weekend, those same hands held up a javelin state title.

"It was good redemption for him," coach Stromberg said. "He wanted it really bad, all year that's all he talked about was winning that state championship. He felt one got away from him last year, so he was motivated to win this one."

***

It wasn't redemption but desire to repeat that drove Darby's Casey Ehmann to her second straight 300-meter hurdles title last weekend in the Class C portion of the State A/C track and field meet in Laurel.

"It was an incredible feeling winning my second state title and main motivation for the whole year," Ehmann said.

But she was also nervous. It's not easy to defend a state title, something Ehmann certainly knew. After all, it was just one year earlier that the Darby hurdler herself upset defending 300 hurdle champ Kailee Oliverson with her school-record setting time of 46.46 seconds.

"This year as opposed to last year her experience helped her out. She went out pretty hard but maybe not quite as hard last year," Darby head coach Steve Gideon said. "... Instead of surviving (at the end) like she did last year, she actually was able to accelerate away from her at the end.

"She had three hurdles left on the straight stretch and it was still debatable whether or not she'd win, but she (got over) that hurdle and really kind of took off."

Ehmann's winning time of 46.60 seconds last weekend missed that mark by a mere .14 seconds, but it was was plenty quick enough this year to capture the back-to-back title, as she edged upstart Fairview freshman Teigan Taylor by .4 seconds.

And it also served as a giant sigh of relief.

"I could see it in her face when she woke up how nervous she was, it wasn't like Casey," Casey's mom, Caroline Ehmann, said. "It was like 'I don't want to get beat.'

"After she won she just felt relieved and happy."

Ehmann also added to her state track and field hardware with a third-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles and the speedy senior just missed out on a podium-placing run in the 200 with a seventh-place finish.

But in the Class C girls' 300-meter hurdles there has been no match to Ehmann now for two years in a row.

***

Other area state placers at the weekend's track and field meets included Stevensville's Ashton Lewis, who was a workhorse for the Yellowjackets. The sophomore placed sixth in the 100, fifth in the 400 and she settled for a runner-up finish in the long jump with a personal-best leap of 17-05.25.

Darby's Donavon Chaffin placed fourth in the 3,200 in Class C and in the Class A long-distance race, Corvallis' Will Flowers took third. Corvallis' Garrett Brown placed fourth in the shot put, Logan Lewis took home fifth in the triple jump and the Corvallis 4x400 relay team of Liang Liedle, Seth Stoker, Cole Henry and Jakob Dalbey placed fifth.

The Corvallis girls, which finished in third place as a team, got individual state placers from Bree Lewis, Hannah Martin, Lilli Day, Maureen Jessop, Kailee McCready, Hannah Hutchison and Kailen Herbstritt. Denali Smith placed twice in both the shot put (fourth) and javelin (third), joining Haldorson (discus title, sixth-place shot put) as a two-event throwing winner. Lainie Albright also captured a sixth-place mark in the javelin for the Blue Devils. Corvallis' 4x100 team of Alyssa King, Lauren Criddle, Herbstritt and McCready brought home fourth.

Hamilton's Jacob Campbell set a PR in the shot put in one of the most closely competitive events over the weekend — the boys' shot put — according to coach Stromberg. Campbell's mark of 56-01.5 was still second best to Sidney's Carter Hughes, who went back and forth with 50-foot throws with Campbell to win the event at 56-07.

Campbell also finished third in the discus, and Hamilton freshman Colter Kirkland set a PR and placed sixth in the 1,600.

For the Hamilton girls, Katelyn Dickemore joined Poulsen as a multi-event placer with a fifth-place finish in the shot put and third-place finish in the discus. Ashley Searle added a sixth-place high jump mark for the Broncs.

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