Manhattan Christian’s boys 1,600-meter relay team knew what was at stake.

The Eagles sat in first place after the first day of the Western C Divisional in Missoula and remained there as the meet neared its conclusion Friday.

Christian needed to finish first or second in the final race to take home the title. But due to a restriction on how many events someone could compete in, the Eagles swapped Caleb Bellach for Jakob Boscha to run the first leg.

Leading up to the race, runners were “pumped up” because they understood its magnitude, Christian head coach Laura Arthun said.

All season, six athletes competed to run in the relay. So the change atop the lineup didn’t alter much. The Eagles finished second and claimed the divisional crown.

“It’s amazing when you have a team have that champion mentality that everyone wants to be a part of that 4x4 relay,” Arthun said. “It’s one of the pinnacle events of track and field because it can be the difference between winning the state meet and not. It can come down to a half a point or a point. You have to be willing to give it your all.”

After the meet, Arthun planned to research how long it had been since the Eagles won a divisional title. All she knew is that it had been several years.

“They were all just so excited and thrilled,” Arthun said.

In the 800, Ben Morrison (2 minutes, 3.93 seconds), Matt Kenney (2:04.25) and Grant Van Dyken (2:05.04) finished in third, fourth and sixth and all three set personal records. Arthun described it as a shining moment of the day.

As the trio finished the race, they embraced each other and celebrated each other’s success.

On the girls’ side, Shelby Walls came in fifth in the 1,600 in 5:44.12, a personal record building off her strong performance Thursday.

“I don’t have enough to say about her,” Arthun said. “This whole weekend, she’s PR’d in every event she’s run. The 1,600 today was basically just icing on the cake for her.”

As Arthun reflected on the meet, and the all-important boys 1,600 relay, she said she expects next week’s state meet to again come down to the end as the Christian boys seek their first state title in school history.

“This is a really special group of kids,” Arthun said.

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.