Bulldogs a double threat, and Wildcats are right there

May 24—To the usual suspects at the State A track and field championships in Laurel — the defending champion Corvallis boys and girls, Whitefish, Laurel and Hamilton — add the somewhat unusual.

The Columbia Falls boys.

The Wildcats, led by sprinter Malaki Simpson, aren't just hunting for their first trophy since 2016, when both Columbia Falls teams finished second at State. They could go bigger.

"I do believe we have a chance," coach Jamie Heinz said. "I think we're in the thick of it. We're all in the same situation, we all have big guns. And if those big guns do well we could easily come away with a state trophy."

The Cats have a nice cast behind Simpson, a favorite in the sprints along with Glendive's Kohbe Smith. Jack Phelps could add points in the 400; the relays are strong and Lane Voermans is a beast in the discus (he's thrown 170 feet) and shot put.

If Columbia Falls finds a few points in the jumps, all of a sudden the pressure is on Glendive and Whitefish, and others.

"Between guys and girls, it's going to be whoever shows up on the day," Whitefish boys coach Willie Roche said. "We told our guys, 'There's not many people outside of this room that truly believe you can win this thing.' I think the guys are poised and ready, and healthy, which is good."

A healthy Cameron Krack makes anyone a threat. The Bulldog senior will end up in seven events this weekend: The 400, both hurdles, the triple and long jumps and both relays.

He's the favorite in the 300 hurdles and right there in the other four individual events.

Distance runner Simon Douglas could score, as could hurdler Carson Gulick and long jumper Christian Schwaderer.

"It's going to be an absolute battle," said Whitefish boys coach Willie Roche. "It's going to be who comes to play. Havre has some speed, and Laurel has some speed with some young kids. It's all about who shows up to compete.

The 400 is the last timed event on Friday; the meet concludes Saturday with a long relay for which Whitefish owns the best time in Class A.

That leaves us with the Whitefish girls, gunning for a second state crown in three seasons after getting edged by Corvallis in 2023.

Senior Brooke Zetooney has been flying around the track, including a boggling 100 meters time of 12.04 seconds. Teammate Rachael Wilmot gives the Bulldogs a mighty 1-2 punch in the sprints.

Hailey Ells should add big points in the hurdles, where Corvallis star Olivia Lewis reigns supreme. The Blue Devils' relays are salty, and Ella Varner (jumps) and Laurie Davidson (distances) could provide them big points.

It won't be easy, but...

"I have three girls who very distinctly remember losing by one point last year, that are super competitive, and are bringing their younger teammates along," Whitefish coach Matt Beckwith said. "And they're ready to compete. Nothing's out of the question."