Top of the Top 10: Billings West’s Hailey Coey leads way with four-gold day | Track-and-field


LAUREL — Hailey Coey’s day at the Midland Roundtable Top 10 track and field meet had barely started, but already she’d gotten in some good cardio work.

A quick sprint down the runway for the long jump competition was followed by a near 150-yard gallop to the start of the 100-meter hurdles, which Coey, a senior at Billings West, wound up winning Tuesday at the Laurel Sports Complex with a 15.42 time.

Then it was back to complete the long jump, which concluded with a second Coey victory at 17 feet, 9¼ inches. Such is the burden for multi-event athletes like Coey at the annual Top 10, which brings in the top competitors for each event from a 150-mile radius.

With no qualifying races to run, the meet moves rather quickly. Or, for those athletes like Coey, rather chaotically.

Not that she seemed to mind. Coey also claimed the triple jump title (36-3¼) and ran a leg on West’s winning 400-meter relay team to earn a haul of four gold medals total, the day’s high.

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“It is a little challenging, you know, you have to switch your mind from event to event and then your mind gets a little scrambled, especially when you’re running back and forth like that,” Coey said after her day was completed. “You just have to make sure to push through and do your best. And just believe in yourself.”

Those are two factors that most athletes had to do on Tuesday. The 50-degree temps, combined with a chilly breeze and some spitting rain on occasion, made it difficult to set personal records, at least on the track.

Hometown girl Daeja Fike had the meet’s lone record-setting performance, in fact. She did so in the javelin, when the Laurel sophomore uncorked a throw of 143-11, sailing past the previous record of 142-4 set by Huntley Project’s Hailey Poole in 2017. (Poole, incidentally, is competing as a grad student at the University of Alabama where she currently has the fifth-best throw — 165-8 — in that school’s history.)

Fike’s throw also surpassed her PR by nearly nine feet.

“My jaw dropped and I was stunned,” she said. “I was not expecting it.”

Bozeman high jumper Hannah Schonhoff brought things to a temporary halt as she attempted to break the girls’ meet mark of 5-7 set in 2018 by former Hawk Lucy Corbett. Schonhoff, though, just nicked the bar on her last attempt at 5-7½, but she was still smiling as she got off the block mat.

“This is the meet that made me feel really good,” said Schonhoff, a senior. “I was really proud that I made everything on my first attempt for the most part. For this meet I was just hoping to get somewhere in that range like 5-6 to 5-8.”

In the end, though, it was a West contingent, led by Coey, that swept the individual awards. She was named the top girls field athlete, while Jaeden Wolff (100 and 200 winner) was the girls top track athlete. West’s boys cleaned up, too, with Taco Dowler (200 winner in a time of 22.50) taking the top track athlete honor and Isaiah Claunch netting the top field athlete award after winning both the discus (158-9) and the javelin (166-7).

Claunch, who has signed to play quarterback at Carroll College, has thrown javelin all four years of high school. He picked up throwing the discus just before divisionals last season, so he’s still relatively new at it. Still, he made a “pretty significant” jump in his discus PR, besting it by more than eight feet.

“I know what I’m doing, but not as (much) as javelin,” Claunch said with a smile. “So I just kind of keep my mind wide open on discus. That seems to be working right now.”

It wasn’t all Class AA winners at the meet. Several smaller-school athletes got in on the fun, as well.

One of those was Class B cross country champ Brandon Emineth of Red Lodge, who burst into the lead at the end to take the boys 1,600-meter title. Emineth said he had a plan all along: Keep the leader, whomever that may be, in sight, and then kick it into gear down the stretch.

“For me, I just have that drive to pass whoever I can,” said Emineth, who added a second-place finish in the 800 to his tally. “I will just push my body to the very limits to beat that person in front of me or just get a win or get in the lead. A win is a win no matter what.”

Colstrip’s Jamie Whitedirt was the Class B runner-up in the shot put at last year’s state meet. Whitedirt uncorked a 42-1½ to win the Top 10 and had a fourth-place finish in the discus to go along with it.

Whitedirt probably spoke for all the spring athletes when she said it was simply nice to be able to compete, given the cold and wet weather that has wreaked havoc on events and created a rescheduling headache for school athletic directors.

“It was just nice to finally have another track meet,“ Whitedirt said. “It was just nice to see everyone throw and to be out here and have fun.”

Tuesday’s other boys winners were: Clint Ambuehl, West, 100, 11.18; Michael Swan, Manhattan, 400, 50.40; Neil Nathan, Bozeman, 800, 1:57.36; Weston Brown, Bozeman, 3,200, 9:35.95; Garret Coley, Bozeman Gallatin, 15.37 and high jump, 6-0; Tyler Gilman, Gallatin, 300 hurdles, 39.55; 400 relay, West, 42.59; 1,600 relay, Gallatin, 3:26.14; Carter Bartz, Livingston, pole vault, 14-0; Jace Applebee, Bozeman, 21-3¾; Payton Kokot, Livingston, triple jump, 43-5½; Stran Selman, Huntley Project, shot put, 48-1.

The other girls winners: Makenzie Sheils, Columbus, 400, 1:00.00; Hadley Brown, Bozeman, 800, 2:21.12; Claire Rutherford, Gallatin, 1,600, 5:16.25; Hayley Burnce, Bozeman, 3,200, 10:54.74; Gracie Bradley, Colstrip, 300 hurdles, 45.69; 400 relay, West, 49.17; 1,600 relay, West, 4:01.23; Madison Clause, Billings Skyview, pole vault, 11-2; Torie Jamieson, Billings Senior, discus, 127-5.

Gallatin’s boys scored 102 points to take the top spot, followed by West (97) and Laurel (54). West led the girls team race with 117 points, with Bozeman (88½) in second and Skyview (48) in third.‘s Lindsay Rossmiller contributed to this report.

Email Mike Scherting at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @GazSportsSchert

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