Polson track impresses despite low numbers
POLSON — Now in his second year as Polson’s track and field head coach, Mike Ellis said what his team lacks in quantity they make up for in quality.
“The season is going pretty well,” said Ellis, who teaches at Polson Middle School. “We’re down in numbers and I’d like (the team to have) more like 100 athletes like some of the competitors we compete against, but we’re doing well. The thing is that we have a small quantity, but they’re good quality. Hopefully that will translate into some good places at divisionals and state.”
One such quality athlete is Anna DiGiallonardo. A jill-of-all-trades, DiGiallonardo runs the 100 and 200-meter sprints while competing in the long jump, high jump and 300-meter hurdles.
“I feel like the intensity level is a lot higher this year because of the new coaches. Our standards bar went up quite a bit, and that’s been really good,” she said.
DiGiallonardo also said the team has been incredibly supportive and that the new coaching structure comprised of several recent college graduates is helping to improve many aspects of her running.
“We have a lot of younger coaches who came from college, so just to see how they would train things as opposed to how some of our older coaches do it is kind of interesting,” she said.
One such coach, Chris Ogle, said the season is going well and that he’s seen a massive improvement over the beginning of the year statistics.
“We had a slow start but we’re improving,” Ogle said. “We’ve had an up-and-down season, but everything is starting look up at the right time.”
To help facilitate that improvement, Ellis said his biggest focus this year is simply improving meet to meet and being focused on the task at hand rather than overall point scores. He said in the past, the focus was on winning meets.
“I think that puts a lot of pressure on our athletes. What I want a kid to do is go out and have their best day. If they go out and compete, give their best effort and leave everything on the track, I’m happy. That’s what I look for in our athletes,” he explained.
But, more than giving their all, Ellis wants his students to have fun.
“My philosophy is that if the kids aren’t having fun, they shouldn’t be out there,” he said. “Track is such an intrinsic, motivational sport, you have to have that inner drive and willingness to work hard. We can ask them to do it, but ultimately it comes down to the athlete. If they want to perform, they will.”
Riley Sampson fits that description. A three-sport athlete, Sampson was recently selected to play for Montana in the 20th annual Badlands Bowl against North Dakota — the second Polson athlete in school history to do so. He will also play in the 67th annual Montana East-West Shrine Game July 20, but for now he’s focused on shot put and discus.
“We’re a lot younger team than last year, but I think we’re coming along and we’re going to peak at the right time,” Sampson said.
Ellis agreed, adding that his “have fun first” approach seems to be working.
“It’s really great to see the inspiration a few kids build with other kids,” Ellis said. “You see them having fun, and that kind of builds upon itself. You see other kids having a good time and that stems from the hard work and dedication they have to have.”
Northwestern A Divisional
(Top five placers and relay teams advance to state)
Team Scores: Whitefish 236, Frenchtown 129, Columbia Falls 86, Polson 67, Libby 7.
200 Meter – Fifth place, Sean Laimbeer, Pol, 23.83.
800 Meter – Third Place, Tel Motichka, Pol, 2:03.89.
3,200 Meter– Fifth Place, Tel Motichka, Pol, 10:53.83.
300 Hurdles – Fifth Place, Jacob Clairmont, Pol, 43.02.
1,600 Relay – Fourth Place, Polson, 3:40.40.
Javelin – Fifth Place, Will Davey, Pol, 162-6.
Shot put – First Place, Riley Sampson, Pol, 53-7
Long jump – First Place, Will Davey, Pol, 20-4.5
Team Scores: Whitefish 184, Columbia Falls 127.5, Polson 110.5, Frenchtown 61, Libby 42.
100 Meter – Second Place, Anna DiGiallonardo, Pol, 12.94.
200 Meter – Third Place, Lydia Bowman, Pol, 28.09. Sixth Place, Alicia Sicz, Pol, 28.60.
800 Meter – Third Place, Alisha Jore, Pol, 2:34.21.
3,200 Meter – Second Place, Hallie Hovenkotter, Pol, 12:21.00. Fifth Place, Amanda Stobie, Pol, 13:39.06.
300 Hurdles – First Place, Anna DiGiallonardo, Pol, 46.73. Sixth Place, Erica Alfiero, Pol, 51.12.
1,600 Relay – Fourth Place, Polson, 4:48.61.
Javelin – Fifth Place, Mariah Corrigan, Pol, 103-6.
Shot put – Second Place, Chloie Huerta, Pol, 33-11. Sixth Place, Jewel Zakit-Ackerman, Pol, 31-3.
Long jump – First Place, Anna DiGiallonardo, Pol, 17-0. Sixth Place, Gracie Carlyle, Pol, 14-10.5.