As the team scores were announced Saturday afternoon, members of the girls’ track team at Belgrade huddled together in anticipation.
After hearing the names of seven other teams, they began to celebrate in earnest. Not only did the Panthers finish in the top three, but they earned a runner up trophy as well.
Belgrade capped the second day of a rainy Eastern A Divisional with 71 points en route to finishing with 78. It wasn’t enough to catch Laurel, which won with 129, but athletes and coaches celebrated regardless.
“The girls worked very hard and they competed today despite the weather,” Belgrade coach Deb Greany said. “Came ready to play.”
Fergus County rounded out the top three after tallying 69 points, while Havre edged Dawson County 55-51 for fourth.
“I don’t think anybody really expected us to do super well because we don’t have a ton of kids this year,” sophomore sprinter Dalani Brayton said. “So just to get up there in the top three is really exciting for everybody, and it kind of gives us some hope for state.”
Brayton placed in a pair of individual events and helped both the 4x100 and 4x400 relays take second. She earned a runner up medal in the 200 with a time of 27.15 seconds and was fourth in the 100 (13.20).
“It was pretty cold,” Brayton said. “I felt like I was running fast, but it was pretty cold. So no personal bests, but it felt good and I was happy with how I did.”
Brayton anchored both relays with the 4x100 finishing in 51.57 and the 4x400 in 4:24.07. It was the just the second time she ran the latter.
While a little apprehensive about the mile relay when first attempting it a week ago, Brayton has quickly embraced her role and moved the team into second place at the 200-meter mark of her leg.
“I was really nervous at first, but once you just get running it feels natural,” Brayton said. “You just kind of glide around the corner and then just run home. It’s pretty fun, I really enjoy it.”
Belgrade’s lone winner at the meet was Gracey Carter. The sophomore won the 300 hurdles with a time of 49.43 seconds, and was second the 100’s with a time of 17.26 seconds.
“That wasn’t something I actually expected coming out of 300’s,” said Carter. “Coming up at the end there I kind of started stuttering and jumping it more than hurdling it, but it was pretty good though. It was a good race.”
Carter also reached the podium in the javelin after placing fifth with a throw of 105-feet, 6.50-inches.
Sprinter Bella Pacheco was also a multiple placer for the Panthers after finishing fourth in the 200 (27.66) and 400 (1:02.91), sixth in the 100 (13.20) and running a leg on each relay.
Sarah Morris added fourth and sixth place finishes in the 300 and 100 hurdles, respectively, with times of 50.30 and 17.26.
Tessa Lamb and Amber Maurer reached the podium with fifth and sixth place finishes in the high jump, while Emily Sullivan and Cynthia Smith did the same in the pole vault late Friday night.
“It wasn’t windy, it wasn’t snowing and it wasn’t super cold,” Greany noted of Saturday’s wet conditions. “They came and competed and rose to the occasion.”
On the boys’ side, Laurel won with 120 points, while Custer County and Fergus County rounded out the top three with 98 and 58, respectively. Belgrade placed eighth with 35 points.
The Panthers had a handful of third place finishers Saturday in Evan Major (100, 11.40), Tate Bowler (LJ, 19-06.25), and Zach Marsh (javelin, 146-02), and were fourth in the 4x100 relay (44.45). Bowler’s mark set a personal best.
Noel Reynolds Jr. was fifth in the 200 (23.12) and ran a leg on the relay, while Marsh finished sixth in the pole vault at a height of 12-feet.
The top 10 in each event advanced to the State A meet, which will be held in Laurel May 24-25.
Complete results: https://www.athletic.net/TrackAndField/meet/372303/results