Hopes were high as Glasgow track and field entered the Class B State Meet in Butte this past Friday and Saturday, but expectations fell just short for the Scotties as the boys tied for second while the girls finished fifth in an exceptional season all around.
"I've been proud of every team that I've coached while being at Glasgow," Glasgow Head Coach John LaBonty said. "We knew it was going to be a tough fight down at State. The girls came so close and the boys gave everything they had and finished second. This is the way to end your coaching career, coaching good kids and having an opportunity for success and working with great people."
Assistant coach Tim Phillips said that he couldn't be any happier for the way his athletes performed this year.
"We started talking at the beginning of the season saying the boys and girls teams this year were the most talented teams we've ever had," Phillips said. "A couple weeks ago, we were thinking it was really possible for both boys and girls to win the State title. A couple of things on both sides didn't fall our way, but we're proud nonetheless."
Although the Scotties fell just short of earning the boys championship, senior Ryan Grandchamp was able to secure championships in both the 100-meter and 200.
Grandchamp, who received a challenge of sorts from his coaches last season, accepted the challenge and hit the weights hard in preparation of his senior year.
"Last year didn't go as planned so I hit the gym to get ready for this season," Grandchamp said. "I wanted to make podium this season which would make up for my performance last season."
Grandchamp, who admitted that he wanted to win the State Meet badly in long jump, ended up seeing his newfound work ethic not only pay off in that event, but others as well.
While falling short of his goal in the long jump, Grandchamp found a couple ways to ease the sting by winning his first place finishes in the 100 and 200.
"Going into it, I knew there were some kids that had faster times than I did," Grandchamp said. "That got in my head a little bit, but during the race, I just ran my race and didn't think anything of it until I looked up and saw my time on the scoreboard."
He has reason to be excited. Not only did he finish first in both events, he set new personal records (PRs) in the process as well. Grandchamp erased his old 100 PR time of 11.25 with a time of 11.11 and followed that up with a 22.43 in the 200, beating his previous mark of 22.68.
"I didn't even think I could go that fast," Grandchamp said of his 100 time.
His improvement in a year even caught the eye of Phillips.
"No one is ever perfect and we're all going to have our good and bad days," Phillips said of Grandchamp. "[He] committed himself this year and did a fantastic job in the weight room and has been such a leader this year, it's a 180 degree turnaround."
Rachael Zeiger had a time of her own on her mind in her 800 event.
After tying the school record held by Marge Markle at 2:20.97, Zeiger did just as Markle expected at State and set a new Glasgow record in the event with a time of 2:20.23 which gave her third place in the race.
"This winter I was really motivated to have a great track season," Zeiger said. "I even tried sprinting this season and that's how I got injured."
Even the injury couldn't slow Zeiger down. She continued to race in meets and still qualified for Districts and Divisionals with very few practices in between.
"I was kind of surprised that I kept cutting time in the 800," Zeiger said. "My laps were on time, but I thought I fell back in my time and was surprised."
As Zeiger completed the race, she didn't think anything of it at first, until a teammate of hers came to share the news.
"Chase [Fossum] came up and was the first to tell me about the record," Zeiger recalled. "I was kind of shocked then."
Once Zeiger found out she had broken the 800 record, she grabbed her gear bag and left the track to make that all-important phone call.
"I was more excited when I tied her," Zeiger said of Markle's record. "I thought it was so cool that it was her exact time [in Divisionals]. I don't know if it was because I was tired [after breaking her record] or what it was. She has been supportive throughout and is just an awesome person.
As the Scotties saw a number of their athletes set new PRs and put their names on the Scotties track leaderboard, Labonty pointed out that his team shines off the field as well.
"A couple of times this year when we were on the road, I received compliments about how my team would behave in restaurants," Labonty said like he were speaking of his children. "That's really important to us, because we're teaching them more than just running and jumping, We're teaching them to be good citizens and good representatives of Glasgow."
As the Glasgow cafeteria was thinning out after the awards banquet Monday night, Labonty stayed around in his usual manner, relishing in the moment one last time of the thing he'll miss the most about coaching.
"What you saw out there tonight, that's what I'm going to miss," Labonty said. "My assistant coaches are more than just assistant coaches, they're great friends. Working with young people is definitely going to be something I'm going to miss, especially in Glasgow."
Phillips seemed to put it best when approached about the subject of Labonty's departure.
"With his personality and his love of the kids, I thought this was something I'd want to be part of. He's so generous in his time to let you learn," Phillips said. "He wears his emotions on his sleeve and when our kids don't perform well, he's sad for them. It's a sad day for Glasgow knowing that he's retiring. There are very few like him."