As Manhattan arrived at the Class B meet Saturday, head coach John Sillitti pulled seniors Zak Meeker and Bryce Love aside and asked them to go for a walk with him.

The trio had been working together for the past six years and knew this would be their final competition as a group.

“I said no matter what, win or lose, I love you guys,” Sillitti recalled. “I just said this is how I want to spend my last day of the season with you guys, win or lose.”

As a light rain fell in Kalispell, Sillitti began breaking down emotionally.

“They swore they were going to give it everything they had," he said.

Entering Saturday in second place, the Manhattan boys only had chances to gain points in the 1,600 meters and 1,600 relay. Meeker and Love were slated to compete in both. After participating in the 800 and 3,200 Friday, both dealt with fatigue.

But the duo remained determined to take home a second-place trophy while Huntley Project ran away with 158 points and the title. The Tigers persevered and accomplished their goal of second by finishing with 68.

“We knew we had to score higher than projected in the mile,” Sillitti said. “We knew our guys were tired from running 800 and 3,200 yesterday. It was just going to come down to gutting it out.”

With limited events to compete in, Manhattan spent most of the day calculating what it would take to place second.

When Love took second in the 1,600 in 4 minutes, 33.98 seconds and Meeker took third in 4:34.95, they were concerned it may not have been enough. But as the meet continued, the Tigers knew the final standings would be decided by the 1,600 relay.

Freshman Michael Swan opened the race by running the best lead leg of his life, Sillitti said, and Love and Meeker ran the second and third legs, respectively. Wyatt Barney, who battled a hip injury all weekend, ran the anchor and struggled to maintain proper form. But Sillitti talked to his runners about gutting out performances and they adhered.

The group placed fourth in the relay, good enough to nab second overall. Sillitti complimented the two seniors because of the way they sacrificed individual results to add more events and lead the team.

“It was just pretty amazing,” Sillitti said. “When it happened, it always feels like it was written that way. I knew how much they wanted it.”

Manhattan’s girls took 13th as a team. Olleca Severson placed fifth in the 100 hurdles in 16.41 seconds, and Hallie Hemenway took fifth in the 3,200 with a personal record of 11:55.65. Madeline Severson (4 feet, 10 inches) placed sixth in high jump and Jodi Cameron (11:56.96, a personal record) came in sixth in the 3,200.

Paul Schwedelson can be reached at or 406-582-2670. Follow him on Twitter @pschweds.

Paul Schwedelson is a sports writer for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.