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Six Arlee tracksters place in first meet

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MISSOULA — With very few practices behind them a young Scarlet squad scored 26 points to finish in eighth-place in the 15-team field and the Warriors had two individual athletes and two relay teams place at the first track meet of the season.

With dark, snow clouds threatening most the day at the Jim Johnson Invitational at Dornblaser Field Wednesday, Scarlet sophomore Becca Nelson threw the javelin 97 feet, 11 inches into a stiff headwind to win the event.

The lone Arlee champion at the season-opening event, also placed fourth in the discus with a throw of 87 feet, 5 inches and fourth in the high jump – an event she just started practicing this week – by clearing the bar set at 4 feet, 4 inches.

Russell Baker, Arlee’s new coach, said that Nelson wanted to reach at least 100 feet in the javelin, and even though her throw was 10 feet shorter than her first-place throw at district’s last year, getting a win in the first meet is a great way to start out the season.

“We’ll take that over a 100 (feet) any day,” Baker said.

At 5-foot-2, Nelson isn’t your prototypical thrower, but what Nelson lacks in size she makes up with her competitive fire.

“I just think she knows how to throw things. For her size she just throws things really hard,” Baker said.

Sophomore twins Aspen and Rachelle Meidinger also placed in the throwing events for the Scarlets. With a throw of just more than 28 feet, 5 inches in the shot put, Aspen placed third. Rachelle finished sixth in the discus with a throw of 82 feet, 11 inches.

Aspen, who wants to set the school record in the shot put this year, qualified for divisionals last season, but didn’t move on to state. Baker said her throw Thursday was close to her throws to finish last season. He said Aspen has a good chance of making the state tournament this season.

Cassandra Kline, one of the few juniors on the team, finished in sixth in the triple jump, with a jump of 30 feet. Baker said that Kline will probably need to add a couple of feet to the jump to advance to the state tournament, but with a whole season to work on it that shouldn’t be a problem. 

The Warriors 400-meter relay team of Zach Tameler, Clayton Trimble, Dylan Moran and Zach Carver, finished fourth with a time of 47.93 seconds. The same four teamed up in the 1,600-meter relay, finishing sixth with a time 4:01. 

The Warriors competed in the 4x100 relay at state last year, but Carver is the only remaining member from that team. In fact, Carver is the only returning Arlee athlete who competed in the final track meet last season. 

“We’re hoping to get both relays to state, but who’s going to be running them, I don’t know,” Baker said. “We’ll be experimenting with the lineup.”

After just picking up a pole vault this week, Cole Rice, a junior, placed fourth in the pole vault, clearing the bar set at 10 feet. 

Warrior sophomore Sam Nelson threw the javelin 140 feet, 1 inch – a personal best – to finish in sixth place, and that was with only a two-step approach. Baker said was they start working on Nelson’s approach to get some speed in his throws, Nelson should be reaching distances that will give him a legitimate shot to make it to state.

Baker, who last coached in 2006, takes over a very young team with little experience at the state tournament. Last season all 10 Scarlet athletes qualified for the divisional tournament, but none of them advanced to the state tournament, and out of the five Warriors competing at the state tournament last season, four of them were seniors. 

This year, the state tournament, shouldn’t be a tournament void of Scarlets. Baker said that Becca Nelson has a legitimate shot to make it in the throwing events. And she shouldn’t be going to Great Falls alone. Besides the Meidinger twins and Kline, Chelsea Allaire has a good chance to advance in the hurdles. The senior made it to the final heat at last year’s divisional tournament.

After sitting out last season with an injury, senior Kyle Felsman returns to the Warrior squad. As a sophomore, Felsman qualified for the state tournament. Baker expects Felsman to be back at state this season. 

Though relatively new at the event, Baker expects a few of his pole vaulters to be at the state tournament.

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