Curt’s Replays: History of Skor-DeKam Invitational Track Meet Part IV, 1989-1999

Curt’s Replays: History of Skor-DeKam Invitational Track Meet Part IV, 1989-1999

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This 6-part Replays series is a brief history of the Skor-DeKam Invitational Track & Field Meet, which originated as the Jaycee Relays 75 years ago. Our fourth segment recaps the meets from 1989-1999.


For the fourth time in the history of the Jaycees-Skor-DeKam, the 1989 meet was snowed out. But the local teams did compete in major meets respectively. At the Great Falls Optimist Invite, Helena High placed fifth, behind the performances of Jeannie Berthiaume, Tiffany Freeman and Julie Brown. The eighth-place CHS Lady Bruins were led by Kristy Wetterling and Angie Brohman.

On the boys’ side, HHS and Capital placed 3-4 at the Swede Dahlberg meet. Pacing the Bengals scoring were Mike Bailly, Darin Zinnecker, Pat Lovely and Chris McCabe; while Bill Cockhill, Lance Hoovestal and Tom Heckathorn sparked CHS.

The 1990 meet was again snowed-out, however this time they were able to complete four events before being called off.

The Bengals led the Skor side with 46½ points, behind the victories of Joe Roberts in the 3,200 in 9:53.7, Cleve Malmstrom in the long jump at 21-feet-6, and the 400 relay. Capital was led by Steve Clay’s runner-up finish in the 3200.

In the DeKam meet, Capital was on top with 33 points, powered by the 1-2-4-5 placings in the javelin. Winner Amy Pratt uncorked a 126-6, ahead of teammate Merrilee Rutherford’s 109-9.

Coach Larry Newell’s Lady Bengals posted a pair of runners-up, in the 400 relay and high jumper Tara Fisher.

For the first time since 1960, a local school won the boy’s team championship, with Helena High amassing 135½ points. The 1991 Bengals were led by Darin Zinnecker’s 26½ points, winning the long jump (21-11) and with the 400 relay, and placing in the 100, 200 and high jump.

HHS’ other victors were Joe Roberts (3200, 9:50.6), pole vaulter Geof Ferguson (pole vault, 15-0) and Chris Carlin (javelin, 184-1). Teammates Lance Dandliker, Chris Spoja and Dan Brown finished in the top-3.

Capital’s top-three placers were the 400 relay, Ryan Grovom (javelin), and J.J. Lamb (200).

On the gal’s side, Helena finished second, sparked by Julie Brown’s three triumphs in the 800 (2:31.53), 1600 (5:35.9) and 1600 relay. The Lady Bengals other victories were Lauren Kilmer (3200, 12:22.89) and the 400 relay.

Teammate Melissa Freeman, who scored in three events, later married classmate Geof Ferguson, and 26-years later their son Caleb captured multiple Skor-DeKam titles for HHS.

Kristy Wetterling sparked the third-place Lady Bruins, sweeping the 100 hurdles (15.29) and 300 hurdles (48.04). Teammate Robie Pierson won the shot (34-9). Second-places went to Robie and Debbie Willson in the discus and high hurdles.

In 1992, HHS coach Bill Gilbert’s 2-time State champion trackster successfully defended their Skor title, posting victories in seven events. Chris Spoja, the meet’s Outstanding Performer, scored in four events, winning the long jump at 21-3¾ and placing in the high hurdles and with both relays.

Other event titlists included Dandliker (shot, 58-3 and disc, 156-5), Joe Roberts (3200, 9:40.8), Barrett Adams (1600, 4:27.4), Justin Covey (vault, 14-6) and Matt Sandholm (100, 11.29).

Capital took fifth, behind 800 champion soph Brandon Morris (1:59.8), and top-3 placers Kevin Johnson (twice), Brett Maykuth and Jason Crebo.

Helena and Capital placed 2-3 in the DeKam meet. Local double winners were Lady Bruin Emily Nay in the 1600 (5:16.6) and 3200 (11:31.4), and Heather Lewis of HHS in the 100 (12.82) and 200 (26.07) dashes. Lewis, who was named Outstanding Athlete, was also part of both winning relays.

CHS tracksters claiming wins were Marci Stumbo in the 300 hurdles (49.75) and Tracy Lloyd in the shot put (34-2). Local runners-up were HHS’ Julie Brown and Holly Humphrey (twice each), and Tiffany Bebich of Capital.

Lewis repeated as the meet’s outstanding female athlete in 1993, with five top-2 placings while leading the Lady Bengals to their first DeKam championship, at 132½ points.

“Heater” tallied 34½ points, sweeping the 100 (12.94), 200 (26.41) and 400 (58.8), anchoring the winning 400 relay, and running with the second-place 400 relay.

HHS’ Kelli Downs won the triple jump (33-7), while teammates Liz Worthy, Denise Lamb and Lauren Kilmer finished in the top-3.

Lady Bruin Marci Stumbo was a triple-winner, claiming the high jump (5-3), 100 hurdles (16.50) and 300 hurdles (47.49), and Nay won both the 1600 (5:16.7) and 3200 (11:22.0). Sarah Lowry was third in the javelin.

Capital placed second in the 1994 Skor meet, behind double winner Kevin Johnson (110 hurdles, 14.89 and 300 hurdles, 39.8), and titlists Brandon Morris (800, 2:01.2) and Andy Larson (jav, 180-2).

Other Bruins finishing top-3 were Brett Maykuth, Kevin Van Nice (twice), Chris Mockel and the 1600 relay.

Pole vaulter Bill Hurford earned Helena’s only crown, going 14-6, while teammates Dan Sprinkle and Kevyn Wetzel grabbed runner-up medals.

In 1994, Capital High placed runner-up on the gals’ side of the meet, led by double winners Nay in the 1600 (5:11.8) and 3200 (meet/stadium record 11:10.9), and Stumbo in the 100 hurdles (16.28) and 300 hurdles (48.22). Both were part of the second-place 1600 relay as well. Nay earned “outstanding performer,” while Stumbo – who finished her career with six individual DeKam championships – also placed in the high jump.

Teammate Nikki Dixon won the shot (33-8½) and scored the jav and disc.

HHS placed third, behind runners-up showings of Jessica Batson (3200), Kelli Porter (300 hurdles), and the 5-ribbon performance of Devon O’Neil, in the 200, 100, 400 and both relays.

Brandon Morris 3-peated in the Skor’s 800 (1:58.6) and Kevin Van Nice won the triple jump (44-8¾), leading the CHS boys to a third-place finish. Carey Schmidt (twice) and KC Ridgeway placed in the top-3.

The Bengals were sparked by champs Hurford in the vault (14-0) and high jumper Nate Welch (6-2). Runners-up ribbons went to Riley Hale, Jess Mortensen and Rick Smith.


The CHS Lady Bruins captured their first-ever DeKam championship, amassing an impressive 184 points competing in the cold and snow. Emily Nay repeated as the outstanding female athlete sweeping the 1600 (5:22.4) and 3200 (11:12.55) and with the runner-up 1600 relay.

Bennett was also a double winner, adding the 100 (13.02) and 200 (26.97) dashes, while taking fifth the long jump, and being part of the second-place 400 relay.

Capital’s other titlists were Chris Ricker (800, 2:31.09), Betsy Krings (100 hurdles, 16.19) and Dannai Clayborn (shot, 36-8). Those coming in second were Carrie Damschen (200), Kate McCarvel (100 hurdles) and Dixon (shot).

Helena finished runner-up, behind the victories of Shannon Agee, in the meet’s first-ever pole vault, at 10-0; Kelli Porter in the 300 hurdles (48.3) and 400 (1:01.73); and Laura Hubber in the triple jump (32-8½). Their second-placers were Erin Gillespie (vault), Corrina McCain (high jump), Denis Lamb (long jump) and O’Neil (100).

On the boys’ side, the Bruins took sixth, claiming a trio of second-place finishes in the persons of Van Nice (long jump), Lucas Nelson (200) and Tom Mazurek (110 hurdles). Twenty-seven years earlier, Kevin’s dad, Dave Van Nice, placed fourth in the triple jump at the 1968 Jaycee Relays.

Helena boasted a pair of champs – Jess Mortensen in the high jump (6-4) and Rick Smith in the long jump (21-10). Runners-up showings went to Smith (triple jump) and Ole Olson (pole vault).

In 1996, Capital’s girls amassed 239 points to retain the DeKam crown, spearheaded by the meet’s outstanding performer, Laura Bennett. Laura won the 100 (13.0) and 200 (26.8), was part of the triumphant 400 relay, and placed runner-up in the long jump.

The Lady Bruins double winners included Chris Ricker in the 800 (2:29.9) and 1600 (5:42.0), and Marshell Moy in the long jump (16-8½) and triple jump (32-10¾). Other titlists were Holly Gabbert (100 hurdles, 15.5), McCarvel (300 hurdles, 48.4), Dixon (shot, 36-5¾) and Clayborn (disc, 120-11).

Helena, under first-year coach Linda Paull, placed third, sparked by triple-winner Nicole Zeller, capturing the 400 (62.4) and vault (8-6), and with the 1600 relay. Sasek also garnered the high jump (5-0).

Runners-up ribbons went to CHS’ Michelle Pilcher, Dixon (twice), Casey Berry, Betsy Krings, Gabbert and Clayborn; and Sasek, Molly Hoyne and Chris Synness of HHS.

The Skor meet’s outstanding performer, Mike Agostinelli, led the Bruins to a third-place showing, claiming the high (15.2) and intermediate hurdles (40.5). Also winning were John Molineux (400, 51.2), while Travis Ahner (twice), Jon Alke, Justin Thomas, and both relays, placed in the top-3.

Sixth-place HHS’ titlist was triple jumper Adam Strainer (43-10¼), with teammates Justin Brown (twice) and Blain Birmingham finishing top-3.

The great Laura Bennett garnered five victories in 1997, while leading Capital to a DeKam three-peat with 111 points. Bennett collected her second “Outstanding Performer” trophy, winning the 100 (12.9), 200 (26.9), 400 (60.7), long jump (15-11¾) and with the 400 relay.

The rest of the victors for coach Shirley Chesterfield’s 2-time State champs were Damschen (100 hurdles, 15.5 and 300 hurdles, 47.5), Ricker (1600, 5:31.4) and Sarah McMillan (jav, 136-8).

Placing runner-up were Ricker (800), Damschen (200), Armbruster (100), Moy (100 hurdles), Heather Davis (long jump), McMillan (shot) and Amanda Walter (javelin).

HHS finished second, with five event titlists, highlighted by Agee’s school/meet/stadium 12-0 launch in the pole vault. Other winners were Sasek (high jump (5-2), Hubber (triple jump, 33-10), Lacee Stewart (shot put, 37-10) and the 1600 relay.

Second-placers were Zeller (400, vault), Agee (300 hurdles), Nicole Hamilton (disc), Hoyne (triple jump), Lena Mortensen (high jump) and the 400 relay.

Future State champion Helena claimed the Skor crown with 123 points, behind winners Justin Brown (110 hurdles, 15.7 and high jump, 6-4), Scott Schoer (800, 1:58.9 and 1600, 4:35.5), Strainer (triple jump, 43-6); Birmingham (pole vault, 14-0), and soph Nate Boyd (100, 11.26).

Capital took second and garnered three events, led by double winner John Molinuex (200, 23.25) and (400, 50.9) and Nick Carrell (300 hurdles, 41.1).

Runners-up placings went to Donny Ramer (vault), and both relays, for HHS; and CHS’ Ahner (long jump and high jump) and Justin Thomas (300 hurdles).


Capital’s gals won their fourth consecutive DeKam Meet – edging runner-up Helena, 85-76 – powered by the six combined victories of Carrie Damschen in the 200 (26.5), 100 hurdles (15.4) and 300 hurdles (45.4); and Suzanne Krings in the long jump (16-1), high jump (5-4) and triple jump (34-7½).

Helena’s winners were Shannon Agee in the pole vault (11-6), Colleen Ferriter in the 400 (61.5), Tara Kloker in the jav (130-9), and both relays.

Local second-placers were CHS’ McCauley (800, 1600), Dalton (400) and Marshell Moy (triple jump); and Nava Howard (100, 200) of HHS.

The Bruin boys amassed 139 points on the way to their first-ever Skor title.

Capital’s victors consisted of Rowdy Sargeson in the 3200 (9:46.8), Keenan Blake in the 110 hurdles (15.4), Corey Steinmetz in the pole vault (13-6), Jake Eldridge in the 200 (22.6) and Kevin McCutcheon in the long jump (20-9½).

Helena’s winners were Dan Casey in the high jump (6-4), and triple jumper Mike Freeman (43-11½).

Local runners-up were Blake (300 hurdles), Tim Daem (long jump), Pat Marron (jav) and the 400 relay of CHS, and HHS’ Brian Pelc (shot put).


Coach Tom Pedersen’s 2-time State champions captured the 1999 Skor meet with 126 points and six event victories. The winning Bruins included Sargeson in the 1600 (4:25.74), McCutcheon in the long jump (21-6½), triple jumper Craig Van Nice (43-10), Eldridge in the 400 (50.7) and both relays.

Helena took third behind triple-winner Nate Boyd, in the 100 (10.97), 200 (22.57) and 110 hurdles (15.18); and high jumper Kevin Flatow (6-4).

Local top-2 placers were CHS’ Herb Ballou (800) and HHS’ 400 relay.

Helena’s girls, under coach Linda Paull, tallied 119 points for the DeKam crown, paced by victors Lisa Price in the high jump (5-0), Penner in the 100 (13.19) and pole vault (11-9), long jumper Nicole Peterson (15-3½), Ferriter in the 400 (61.43), and Katie Connors in the javelin (105-10).

Capital’s winners were Layna Chuter in the triple jump (32-2½), and Kelsey Dalton in the 200 (27.38).

Runners-up ribbons went to HHS’ Karen Evans (triple jump, long jump), Mortensen (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles), Lehman (800, 1600), Amanda Dandliker (shot) and the 400 relay; and Tarhell (vault) of CHS.

Curt Synness can be reached at 594-2878 or He’s also on Twitter @curtsynness_IR


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