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State AA track: Helena boys, girls lead; Logan Todorovich, Alysa Keller set records

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Posted at 10:23 PM, May 26, 2023

BUTTE — The sky was the limit for Logan Todorovich and Alysa Keller, and both athletes found a way to achieve just that.

The standout track and field duo highlighted the first day of the State AA-B track and field meet at Memorial Stadium in Butte on Friday.

PHOTOS: DAY 1 OF STATE AA-B TRACK AND FIELD IN BUTTE

Todorovich — the Helena High junior who already has two state titles and many more all-state finishes in her career — leaped 19 feet, 4 1/2 inches to set the new all-class record in the long jump in Montana. By doing so, she defended her long jump championship from a year ago, and broke the previous record of 19-03.75 set by Bozeman's Delaney Bahn in 2019.

The record leap came on her sixth and final attempt, meaning Todorovich quite literally saved her best for last.

"I was really excited. I was surprised, my last jump there I was just going to go for it, give it my all and so when I did, I saw that jump and I was really excited about it," Todorovich said. "It was really cool. I thought at the end I had nothing to lose here and I'm going to go for it and jump as far as I can.

"The biggest thing for me in this meet was getting the team state championship. I think that this record and getting it is just like an addition onto that so that was cool. It means a lot, I've been working really hard for this and I think that I'm really excited to be able to do it and hopefully I can keep going."

Behind Todorovich's record-setting performance, Helena High is well on its way to potentially defending its girls state team title as the Bengals lead the field with 74 points. Bozeman Gallatin is second with 51 while Missoula Hellgate is third with 32.5.

Helena's girls were boosted by a pair of other winners on the day to pad their lead. Todorovich's sister, sophomore Madilyn Todorovich, took home the gold in the high jump with a mark of 5-4, just edging out her sister who also cleared 5-4 but Madilyn won on attempts. It was a big event for Helena as junior Makenzie Jackson took third to make it an all-Bengals top three.

Helena also picked up a big win in the 400 from freshman Hazel Bishop, who won in 58.57 seconds as the Bengals head into the second day with the big lead.

For Keller, the question wasn't if she would win javelin, but more in what fashion. The senior from Billings West — who entered the meet ranked seventh in the entire country in high school javelin — left no doubt as she took the gold with a throw of 156-03.

That mark set a new Class AA record in the girls javelin, the previous mark held by Aly Wardell — also of West — who had the record at 143-07. Keller was just shy of the all-class mark of 156-11 which was set by Angellica Street of Columbia Falls in 2019.

"Honestly I'm just really happy right now," said Keller, who will throw at BYU next year. "It's definitely surprising, not going to lie. From last year, this was going really well when I started and then this year I wasn't expecting to keep bumping up and so I'm really excited right now.

"(The throw) definitely felt right. That was definitely my best throw today. I calmed myself down and I kind of have to tell myself to trust myself so I definitely did that because I need to trust my body and stuff. It's a really special moment, these are always my favorite moments."

On the boys side, the Bengals also hold the lead but by slimmer margins as Helena has 34 points while Bozeman High is second with 32 and Gallatin has 26 to sit in third.

Helena's boys were also boosted by a pair of state champs in the jumps, as senior Colter Petre took first in the long jump with a mark of 22-05 and sophomore Aayden Simmons was the winner in the high jump at 6-6.

"I like it, it's really nice," Simmons said of the win. "Last year I jumped like six feet and I hit a spike this year. I think I just got stronger and older and matured. The whole time my heart was just beating really fast, and then on the 6-4 when I got it on the first try, that put me at first and I kind of knew I secured it but I knew I had to go a little bigger."

Bozeman standout Weston Brown — who is bound for Princeton in the fall — helped boost the Hawks into second with a scorching finish in the 3,200. Brown won the race in 9 minutes, 11.76 seconds to go back-to-back in the event as a state champion to cap off his career. He was closely followed by teammate Nathan Neil who was second as the Hawks picked up 18 big points in the event.

Brown and Neil also took second and third in the 800, and for Brown, just missing out on a pair of state titles was fuel heading into the 3,200.

"I was pretty disappointed with that (800) but Wilson (Schmidt) ran a great race and a fast time, but that (3,200) felt great," Brown said. "It's awesome. Running against Nathan every day at practice and week after week, it makes us better and both of us more competitive and we just train harder and faster.

"To come back and defend that championship after a record-breaking season in so many things, it's a great last 3,200 in high school. Super fun and looking towards the mile."

Belgrade's Wilson Schmidt took the edge in the boys 800 at 1:51.31, and for the freshman, running against Brown, Neil and a number of other Gallatin County distance racers throughout the year helped prep him for the biggest race of the season.

"It was really quick, I tried to stick with Weston to the best of my ability for the first lap-and-a-half and then see how I can out-kick him and it worked out," Schmidt said. "It's surreal. I was really excited, didn't believe the time at first but it was great."

Gallatin's Isabel Ross was the champ in the 800 as the Raptors find themselves in second in the team standings. Like Schmidt, Ross saw strong competition all year, and that had her ready for Friday.

"I'm really proud, I was not expecting this," Ross said. "I started the season with a much slower time so it feels really good to be here now. So my strategy from the beginning was to stick behind first place and then that way I'd have more energy at the end to just kick and when I was coming down the last straight looking at the finish line with no one in front of me it didn't even feel real."

Hellgate's Hannah Moses took the state championship in the pole vault to become a back-to-back champ in that event. Moses cleared 11-9 which is what she used to win it last year. Her victory has the Knights in the top three in the team standings as well, as the Knights also got a win in the 3,200 from Jamison Molloy.

"It felt definitely even better than last year. It was crazy," said Moses, who will compete at Montana after high school. "Definitely a lot of pressure, mostly myself. I had these really high expectations and it was a lot of pressure to meet them but I did and I'm glad. It felt really good, a lot of pressure left and I remembered that pole vault is fun and I really like just competing and all of the girls were really fun and nice."

Hellgate also got a win from Alex Shields to start the meet in the shot put. It came down to the wire as Shields threw 53-10.25 on his final throw of the day to just edge out Helena Capital's Barrett Hageman in the final seconds.

"Figured it's a big one, might as well let it rip," said Shields, who will throw at Montana next year. "Show them what I'm made of. I felt pretty amped up and confident. I just didn't really think about it, just do the work and go from there. It feels awesome. That's what I've been chasing since junior year. It feels fantastic."

Other winners on the day included the 400-relay teams for Billings Skyview's girls and Kalispell Glacier's boys. Glacier's Kai Johnson won the girls shot put and Gallatin's Nash Coley won the boys 400.

Skyview's Sean Kennedy also won the boys pole vault on Thursday. Full results from the State AA meet can be found here. Events will wrap up on Saturday in Butte.