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By Georgie Kulczyk
The Courier 

Scottie Boys Bring Home Third Place

 

Georgie Kulczyk / For The Courier

Pictured left to right: Coach Tim Phillips, Coach Kayla Larson, Coach Dave Rogenes, Trevor Toavs, Eddie Daggett, Tanner Roness, Walker Allen, Luke Breigenzer, Chase Fossum, Benji Phillips, Ethan Etchart, Trent Herbert, Coach Pat Menge, Gabe Hallock, Coach Wade Nelson, Coach Dan Johnson. The Scottie boys tied with Troy for third place at the state track meet.

Eight-hundred and thirty-eight miles, 22 athletes, seven coaches, two managers and one Scottie cruiser. That's just part of what it takes to attend a state track meet. Coach Tim Phillips and his crew of coaches and athletes made the trek across the state to Kalispell to do just that. They were followed sporadically by a caravan of family and friends hoping to cheer the Scotties on to victory. Former coach John Labonty spent both days at the meet as well – to the delight of most every athlete on the team. Of the 22 athletes who competed, exactly half of those athletes made it to the podium.

"We were very proud of the kids," said Phillips. "Looking back at 2014, we lost 29 points from Ryan [Grandchamp], Lane [Herbert], and Bridger [Sanders]. So, to come back and be in contention for some hardware the next year is a testament to how hard these kids work."

For the boys, senior standout Chase Fossum managed to place in just about every event he competed in, which helped lead them to a third place finish overall. Fossum was kept busy all weekend competing in seven events – the maximum allowed under MHSA rules. There have only been three state champion high jumpers from the Scotties.

"Chase's 200-meter came right in the middle of his triple jump on Saturday, so for him to get a point in the 200 and to get third in the triple speaks to his competitiveness," said Coach Phillips. "He really helped carry us through the weekend - fifth in an extremely fast 400-meter and a PR (personal record) for him on Friday." In the high jump, Fossum brought home Glasgow's only first place from the meet. "It was a thing of beauty," said Phillips. "He just kept nailing heights without a miss all the way up. He would have had 6'5" if he hadn't grazed the bar with his hips, but to win with so many talented jumpers in there was a huge deal."

Other notable contributions include two sophomores on the team – Luke Breigenzer and Benji Phillips. Breigenzer earned medals in the both of the hurdle races (including a PR in the 300-meter) and helped the 4x400 relay team take third place when he ran the second leg of that race.

"Luke really had a great day in both hurdle races," said Phillips. "Those are very tough races to place in as a sophomore, so to get fifth and sixth was a major accomplishment for him."

Benji Phillips brought home medals in the javelin and the 100-meter dash as well as both relays. In the javelin, Benji Phillips had his third best throw with a 188-02, but he was edged out by Forsyth sophomore Casey Cole – who threw a fifteen foot PR.

"That was tough for him to take," said Coach Phillips of his son, "but I was really proud of how he adjusted. Immediately after, we had him changing shoes to go start the relay and do long jump. He'll keep working hard and hopefully excelling there."

He also ran really well in the 200-meter, placing seventh right behind Fossum. His sixth place finish and a PR in the 100-meter was a pretty big achievement also, as Coach Phillips wasn't sure he could even make the finals.

According to Phillips, both relays for the boys went really well with both races achieving personal records. Benji Phillips started both relays and Fossum anchored them. In the 400-meter relay, Ethan (Etchart) helped get the team in good position and Trent (Herbert) held the corner well.

"In the 1600-meter relay, I was a bit worried," said Coach Phillips. "Ethan was pretty fresh, but had hit a hurdle on Friday and was a bit sore. Counting the prelims on Friday, Luke had run three races, Benji Phillips had run six, and Chase had five races and three jumping events on his legs."

There apparently wasn't any reason for him to be worried, as the boys brought home a third place finish in that event.

Walker Allen and Gabe Hallock struggled in the 1600-meter and 3200-meter races, with Hallock suffering from back problems off and on all season, and Allen fighting stomach cramps right before the races.

"Gabe just had to fight through it, and Walker just missed his personal bests in both of his races, so I'm proud he managed to battle through", said Phillips. In the discus, Trevor Toavs and Tanner Roness both had solid throws according to Phillips, but they both fell short of placing in the tough event. "I'm looking for Trevor to sneak into the top six next year."

For the girls, it was a tougher battle.

"Individually we were just a little overmatched in the sprints," said Phillips, "but it was good for Baylie [Chappell] and Jordan [Kulczyk] to get some experience."

Alex Simensen achieved a PR in the 200-meter and advanced to the finals in the 100-meter, but was unable to place in either event. Phillips explained that with the top five runners in the 400-meter finishing with times under a minute, it's a tough race. Simensen, Brinlie Nielsen, and Morgan Guttenberg all competed in that event, but none were able to place, although Guttenberg did achieve a personal best. Amanda Wolff shaved four seconds off of her personal best in the 800-meter. Unfortunately, she finished with a heartbreaking seventh place.

"She ran the race just like we had drawn it up", said Phillips. "She had a fantastic race – just got chased down by some really solid girls at the end." Wolff also ran a leg in both relays for the girls and helped bring medals home in each of those events.

Senior Amy Breigenzer did well in the 100-meter hurdles. "Her second place in the 100-meter hurdles was phenomenal," said Phillips. "The 15.08 is a PR for Amy and the second fastest in school history. She really 'attacked the hurdles' as former Coach John Labonty would say."

Liz Hahn still claims the fastest time of 14.7 from 1977. Julia Kolstad competed well in the 100-meter hurdles also, but got behind with a quad injury according to Phillips. "I'm looking for great things from her next year," he said.

Josie Braaten finished out her high school track career with a solid performance and a fifth place finish in the 3200-meter run. Her time of 11.58 was her fastest of the year, and she was still standing after the race was over. According to Phillips, she's been battling with some enzyme issues. "It's something that doesn't kick in until she really starts pressing at a high level. I don't think many realize how much she has had to work her way through in the past two years. She's basically passed out on the track the last couple state meets and it's been something we've been concerned about."

In the field events, Phillips described senior Dana Hughes as a "solid leader" and expressed appreciation for all of the work she has put in for the last three years. Overall, she threw in the range she'd been throwing, but the level of competition at the state meet is tough.

"She ended up ninth in the discus and fourteenth in the shot. Her back has been sore, so her javelin didn't go that well," said Phillips.

Despite competing at their usual levels, Keirsten Wethern and sophomore Jordan Kulczyk also fell short of placing in their throwing events. Freshman Kaylee King set a PR in the high jump when she cleared the 4' 8" mark.

There seemed to be a special chemistry between the girls on the relay teams. In the 4x100 relay, they had good exchanges and solid running. Kulczyk and Simensen were flanked by Wolff and Breigenzer, and they all really clicked. The 4x400 relay was just plain exciting to watch.

"Brinlie got us in great position and Jordan ran the best leg she's ever run." said Phillips. "Alex, who's still a little bit sick, ran above the level of shape she's in to get us into third in our heat. And Wolff finished off a great career on the final leg. That 4:13 was the fourth or fifth fastest relay we've ever had." Both girls relay teams achieved PRs and fourth place finishes. The girls fell short of placing overall, but had some inspiring performances nonetheless.

Reflecting on the weekend, Phillips thought it was kind of a story of redemption – some struggled early, but almost all came back with great performances later. "I can't say enough about how the kids competed for both boys and girls. I don't think anybody had a bad meet."

As far as his coaching team? Coach Phillips said that Coach Nelson did a great job managing all three throws for both boys and girls. He's always busy jumping from one to the other. Coach Larson has been excellent in both the hurdles and high jump. She's been a big part of their success. In her three years here, she's had two state champs and one runner-up finish for the high jump.

Coach Menge has really done well taking over for Dave Rogenes. He brought a lot of jumpers through the post season and that trend is expected to continue. Phillips said he appreciated his enthusiasm and willingness to get the kids going in the off-season, too. Coach Rogenes was able to volunteer a lot for Phillips as well, and his wisdom and perspective were greatly appreciated. "Coach Galston did a fine job with our vaulters – I think he really got them excited and prepared for a great season next year," said Phillips.

Coach Braaten did a lot of great work with the distance crew. She volunteered to help out this season and really took a big load off Phillips' shoulders. Phillips also gave a special thanks to Coach Johnson. Johnson really battled through a bad concussion from right before the season, and has been just as tough as the kids in coming back and providing excellent work in the starts, relay exchanges and the sprints.

"I think they are all excellent coaches and quality people," Phillips said. "We're looking forward to returning some amazing athletes and bringing in a great new group of freshmen in 2016."

Coach Phillips has been nominated as Coach of the Year for girls track team.

 

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