Charlo High School coach Bret Thompson knows sometimes he has to mix and match various combinations of events in order to find the right combos that work for his team, especially at the beginning of the year.
The Lady Vikings, who have an illustrious tradition with their track program, look to continue their tradition of excellence as they enter the 2018 campaign.
Charlo should have several players ready to elevate their level of play, according to Thompson.
“We lost a couple along the way but returned everyone else and we will pick up Bella Hawk and a couple of freshmen that can really step up,” Thompson said. “We should have a couple of freshmen that will be ready to step up and help us.”
Thompson said he anticipates his numbers to be down this year compared to previous years but isn’t deterred by the change.
“As far as numbers, we are going to see some younger kids and mid-distance runners but we won’t know until we get into the season,” Thompson said. “I know we will get the people moved around where they need to be. Our team works hard and can be successful individually. Hopefully, they will be successful.”
The Lady Vikes will boast of a solid junior class that has plenty of experience that they will bring to the table in Thompson’s stable of talent.
Allie Delaney, Kaitlin Cox and Kira McPhail will also participate in the sprinting and hurdling.
“We didn’t have any throwers and last year we put some young girls into spots that really hurt us as far as team points go,” Thompson said. “We score high as far as sprinting, jumping, hurdling and distance running. We will have to get into the season and see how everyone else is doing in the state. As we progress through the season, we will have a bigger, stronger group as far as our total number. Barring injuries and not having to move around, we shall do well.”
Charlo athletes don’t just do well on the track, they do well in the classroom, Thompson said. Having the type of girls that excel in all areas of life make Thompson’s job easier.
“At the beginning of basketball season, I received a letter from the MHSA that said the girls had earned one of the top highest GPAs in the state,” Thompson said. “They were given an award. I thought that was pretty cool for our athletes to also be recognized for their time in the classroom.”
Thompson said he anticipates this season will be fun as the Lady Vikes, as usual, compete for various spots at state.
“It is a fun time for everyone but they have to make the grade before they can do everything else,” Thompson said. “Not only do they put in the time in the classroom but they are willing to give up time after school and the weekend. That is a big part of why kids in our school and Charlo are good kids.”
Vikings boast of big name returners
When you look at the Charlo Vikings’ track roster, it is very similar to their MHSA Class C 8-man football roster. There is a reason for the success on the gridiron and that is the speed and athleticism the Vikings demonstrate in all areas of athletics.
The junior class is very strong and boasts of Toby Odom, Garrett Vaughn and Landers Smith, three players that excel in multiple sports, and track is no different.
“Toby Odom is the lone senior and we have a pretty good junior group,” Thompson said. “We also have some kids that have never been out for track that might make an impact on our team.”
Thompson knows that during the boys’ season, a participant’s skill set can change dramatically from year to year depending on the player.
“Sometimes, what you are good at as a freshman can change a little bit,” Thompson said. “We just hope to put kids in the right places to be successful.”
Perhaps the most indicative of Charlo High School’s success as a track school over the years is they keep getting invited to the Big Sky Invitational in Missoula. The Big Sky Invitational, which doesn’t typically invite smaller schools, continues to invite Charlo.
“That really says a lot of the success of our kids and how they can compete against bigger schools,” Thompson said.
The Vikings’ first meet of the season will be the Frenchtown Meet that starts at 9 a.m. Saturday at Frenchtown High School.