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Missoula Sentinel track and field athlete will get to keep her titles
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Missoula Sentinel track and field athlete will get to keep her titles

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State Class AA and C Track 2021 04

Brooke Stayner of Missoula Sentinel clears the last hurdle en route to winning the State AA girls 100-meter hurdles May 29, 2021.

MISSOULA — A Tuesday hearing that was scheduled in the Missoula County District Court concerning a dispute between Missoula Sentinel track and field athlete Brooke Stayner and the Montana High School Sports Association has been canceled after the case was dismissed, according to court documents obtained Friday by the Missoulian and 406mtsports.com.

Mark Beckman, the MHSA's executive director, confirmed in a written statement via email Friday afternoon that the two parties decided to resolve the case informally. 

“Based on the unique circumstances presented in this particular case, MHSA and the student athlete have determined to resolve the case informally, which renders a hearing on an injunction unnecessary," Beckman's email read.

"MHSA has reserved its authority to investigate and consider the circumstances that gave rise to the situation in the first place and to take action, if warranted. Any such action will not include alteration of the student athlete’s or any schools’ final standings at the Class AA State Track and Field meet."

Beckman did not go into further detail about any actions MHSA may take.

Stayner’s attorneys, William McCarthy and Carl Mendenhall, confirmed that her first-place finishes in the 300-meter hurdles, 100-meter hurdles and the long jump, along with her finish in the 200-meter dash, and contributions to the 4x100 and 4x400 at the Class AA state meet in May will not be vacated or altered.

Sentinel will not have any points taken away, leaving the 2021 girls title with Sentinel — which also won the boys title.

"Nothing ever changed," McCarthy said during a Friday phone call. "She is the state champion in what she did. Missoula Sentinel girls are still the state champion. ... It really was at the end of the day, everybody acknowledged, it was a unique circumstance and it is just not precedential." 

"Neither party admitted they did anything wrong," Mendenhall added. "Brooke wasn't docked any points or any of her places. There were no changes in the races themselves or the results. Nothing changed. MHSA, they reserve the right to look at it whether there were mistakes made by others, not Brooke. It's not going to have an impact on state championships or individual placements."

McCarthy and Beckman called the situation between Stayner and the MHSA unique because of the change of venue for the Western AA divisional track meet from Butte to Kalispell about 48 hours before the meet was supposed to happen due to weather concerns. Despite the change to Kalispell, Butte organizers were still responsible for handling and managing the race.

Stayner was entered in five events at the meet as an individual: 200, 400, 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles and long jump. She also later competed in the 4X100-meter relay and was on the track for the 4x400-meter relay when meet managers in Kalispell stopped the race to remove her from it. Stayner did not actually compete in the 300 hurdles or the 400-meter race at the divisional meet because she had already pre-qualified and hit the state qualifying standard in both events.

The MHSA handbook states that "an athlete using a qualifying standard to advance to state in a particular individual event must be entered in the district meet in Class B or C and divisional meet in all classes for that event but is not required to participate."

McCarthy and Mendenhall said there were no scratch meetings held prior to the divisional meet, which the two said may have added to the confusion and unique situation.

The MHSA rule book, as written, stipulates that she still hit the limit of five events at divisional meets. The divisional meet was held May 21 and 22, a week before the Class AA state meet on May 27 through May 29, leaving limited time for any confusion at the divisional meet to be cleared up.

Stayner's attorneys received a temporary restraining order that allowed Stayner to compete at the state meet, giving the parties time to figure out what led to the confusion.

"I think that everybody really agrees as the dust settles, especially after the state track meet, was that this was a unique circumstance in a very unique time that led to all this," McCarthy said. 

Lance Hartzler covers Griz men's basketball and prep sports for the Missoulian. Follow him on Twitter at @lance_hartz or shoot him an email at Lance.Hartzler@406mtsports.com.

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