HELENA -- Thirty-two years ago, when the inaugural Skor-DeKam Track & Field Invitational took place at Vigilante Stadium, Capital High was the top local team, with a runner-up placing. The Bruins were led by the strong one-two punch of Mike Dagenais and Cory Johnson.
The 1987 track meet was the combination of the former Jaycee Relays for boys, and the Helena Girls’ Invite. The late Lloyd Skor, longtime Helena High coach, along with the Helena Jaycees, had founded the boys meet in 1945. The original girls meet was instituted by Helena Junior High coach Emilee DeKam in 1968, four years before Title IX.
In 1987, the first Skor-DeKam meet attracted 23 schools – 14 boys and nine girls – with a total of 569 tracksters competing. The boys event consisted of all 13 AA teams (Glacier High was not in existence) and Class A Havre, while the girls meet included the same field minus the three Billings and two Great Falls squads.
Flathead High captured the boys team event with 41 points, followed by runner-up Capital at 33. Helena was 10th. On the girls side, Butte High ran away with the title, amassing 71 points, ahead of second-place Flathead’s 47. CHS and HHS were seventh and eighth, respectively.
But the local individual highlights were Dagenais and Johnson – who both competed in the limit of five events – scoring 12½ and 10 points, respectively.
Dagenais, a senior sprinter, placed in four races, capturing the 400-meter run and anchoring the runner-up 400 relay. He broke his own school record in the open 400 with a 49.8-second clocking, and helped relay mates Kam Wrigg, Bill Cockhill and Derek Didricksen, get the stick around in 43.9. Dagenais placed third in the 200 (22.7) and fourth in the 100 (11.3) dashes, as well.
In the open 400, he was running in seventh place for the first half of the race, before making his move at the start of the final corner.
“I kind of planned it that way – I knew they would start out fast,” Dagenais, who had to overcome 10 yards down the final straightaway to break the tape first, told the IR afterwards.
Johnson garnered the high jump with a clearance of 6-feet-6, and finished second in the triple jump, leaping 44-2. The versatile Bruin junior also made the finals in the shot put with a heave of 48-11, while spinning the platter in the discus for a mark of 143-0. Additionally, Dagenais and Johnson both ran a leg on the 1,600-meter relay.
“I’m tired,” said an exhausted Johnson, whose day started at 10 a.m. with the shot put and ended at 5 p.m. with the triple jump. “I just want to go home and go to bed.”
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Capital head coach Tom Pedersen’s other runners-up were Jon Walker in the high jump at 6-6 (on misses), and Wrigg’s long jump of 21-1½.
Two stadium records were bested in the meet, by Clint Johnson (CM Russell) in the 3,200 run in 9:33.5, and Jason McKinney (Big Sky) in the old low-flight javelin at 213-½. Two other Vigilante marks were tied, by Jamie Banna (Flathead) in the 110 hurdles in 14.5, and Scott Hanel (West) the 200 dash at 22.1 (tie).
Todd Foster was Helena’s top placer, finishing second in the pole vault with a clearance and a PR of 14-6. Rounding out the rest of the Bengal placers were Jeff Moore, third in the 300 hurdles (40.5) and fourth in the 110 hurdles; and the runner-up 1,600 relay (Russ LaVigne, Chad Koon, Britt Fred, Chris McCabe) in 3:30.1.
On the girls side, Capital was paced by Mindy Johnson. Despite competing on a bad ankle, the future University of Montana star won the triple jump at 34-6½, and placed runner-up in the long jump with a PR of 16-4. Johnson also ran on the Lady Bruins’ fourth-place 400 relay, with Stephanie Bicknell, Kara Campbell and Kim Currie, to finish with a team-high 10½ points.
“Mindy competed real hard,” CHS coach Shirley Chesterfield said. “She got hurt last weekend when she came down short on a jump, and we were not able to do much with her all week. It was hurting quite a bit in the long jump, but she did well in both.”
Tabby Hall finished third in the discus (120-5), while Campbell took fifth and sixth in the 300 hurdles and 100 hurdles. Currie was fifth in the 200, and just missed scoring in three other events, placing sixth in the 100, long jump and triple jump.
Helena’s best showing was the second-place 1,600 relay foursome, with Kathi Fiehrer, Tina Zinnecker, Shawn Jackson and Diana Chandler, getting the baton around in 4:13.7. Fiehrer, Zinnecker and Chandler also teamed up with Colleen Lorenz, for a third-place medal in the 400 relay (51.7).
HHS teammate Krysty Bolin took third in the high jump (5-0), while the Lady Bengals other two points came on fifth-place finishes by Kelly Redfield and Tiffany Freeman, in the 3,200 and long jump.
The lone stadium record in the girls’ meet belonged to Tami Mathewson (Butte), who tied Capital’s Melanie Hull’s 1985, 100 dash mark with a 12.6 clocking.