Kamdyn Molenda wrapped up not only an impressive season, but a great high school career, with a state championship in the 100 last weekend. Molenda recorded personal bests in four of her five individual events at the Class B State Meet in Kalispell and led the Lady Wolves to a sixth place team finish.
Molenda recorded the top time in Friday’s qualifying race in the 100 with a 12.82 and the fourth fastest time in the 200 with a 26.87. Molenda next competed in the long jump and recorded a 13-08 to finish off the podium.
“Kamdyn’s preliminary races went great!” said head coach Shayle Ehlers. “She put herself in great positions for the 100 and 200 finals. Although the long jump didn’t go as well as we wanted, she quickly turned her attention to the races at hand.”
The next “race at hand” was the 400 meter final, a race that Molenda had run just twice before the District 1B Meet. With just a few races under her belt Molenda was still ranked among the top Class B runners in the state in the event.
“For the last few years Ms. Kain tried to tell me that the 400 was my race,” said Molenda. “This year I finally accepted it and decided I should stop complaining about it and just embrace the pain that comes from that lap.”
Embrace the pain she did indeed, as she recorded the fastest lap of her career and finished second with a personal record of 59.91.
Molenda’s opening event on Saturday was the triple jump where she set another personal record with a leap of 33-05.5, just missing the podium as she finished seventh.
The 100 meter final followed, an event that Molenda was undefeated on until a false start at the divisional meet disqualified her.
“I guess you could say I was a little nervous going into the final, but after divisionals I knew I was never going to false start again,” said Molenda. “I’m not sure if those nerves came from the false start the week before or because it was state, but I was pretty anxious for that race.”
Molenda overtook the field after 20 meters and never looked back as she crossed the finish line with a personal record of 12.75.
“I crossed the finish line smiling because I knew I did it,” she said. “My first thought was ‘Oh wow! I really just did that.’ It was very relieving because I had been thinking about that race for a few months and I finally did it and got the results I had been working so hard for all season. In February I wrote some goals down and hung them on my mirror so every morning when I got ready I would look at them. They were ‘run a 12.6 and go for gold at state.’ 12.6 was a little faster than the time that won state last year so it was a good time to start with but I’ll take the 12.75 and a gold medal!”
“This is the race we have been excited about all season,” said Ehlers. “Kam was focused and ready behind the blocks. After the results were read, Kam looked toward the tent with a huge grin as she gave us the number one symbol. Her goal she had set at the end of last season had been achieved and she still had another race to top off her weekend.”
The final event of her high school career was the 200. Molenda set yet another personal record as she finished third with a time of 26.41.
From last season to this season, Molenda knocked off almost half a second from her 100 time, more than two seconds from her 200 time, added over two feet to her triple jump and in a matter of five races in the 400 took off nearly five seconds. She credited her offseason conditioning to not only her state title, but to her overall improvement throughout the season.
“I decided not to play basketball and really focused on working out,” she said. “I did Coach Ehlers’ winter conditioning and it really benefited me. We were up there a few times a week working on lifting and speed work. I also started to focus on my running form…better late than never!”
Junior Dakota Manecke opened the State Meet with a second place finish in the pole vault. After clearing her first heights with ease on the first attempt, she struggled to match her personal record of 10-6. Manecke sealed second place after clearing the bar on her third attempt and narrowly missed on clearing 11-0.
Despite only getting points from Molenda and Manecke, the Lady Wolves placed sixth as a team. Cut Bank’s 4x100 relay of Manecke, Brynne Finstad, Jackie Waller and Portia Taylor ran their fastest time of the year with a 55.12 but they did not place.
Waller also ran the 300 hurdles and although she had been nursing a hip injury over the weekend, she ended her freshman season with a personal record of 50.78, knocking over a second off her previous time and, more importantly, will return next season with a great state experience.
The Lady Wolves returned home to a caravan of emergency vehicles and community members celebrating their State Champion.
“The community has been amazing the past few months,” said Molenda. “The overwhelming support from everyone has been incredible and I appreciate it so much. My mom had posted on Facebook just about every weekend, and it was crazy to see how many people were waiting to see the results from my races and if she didn’t post, people would be texting or calling her about it. It was very surprising to see how many people there were to escort the bus into town and that just goes to show how supportive our community is.”
As Molenda wrapped up her career, she had time to reflect on her choice of a spring sport.
“Track has been one of the most amazing things I have ever been a part of,” she said. “If there are any younger kids considering joining I would recommend it 100 percent. I am very thankful for my amazing coaches throughout the years and I appreciate everything they have done for our team. The support I have had from my family and the community has been amazing, and I am so grateful for these people.”