BUTTE — A year ago, Butte High speedster Mollee Conlan saw her pursuit of state hardware tripped up early.
A disappointing performance in the girls 100 prelims kept her from advancing to the final heat. It's something that's been on her mind ever since.
"Last year had a big factor on how I wanted to train and how I really wanted to get back to state and obviously do better than last year," she said.
The Montana Tech-bound senior will get that opportunity.
A few weeks after clocking a state qualifying time in the 100, Conlan bolted to a first-place finish in the event at the Western AA meet in Missoula. She ran a 12.64, a time that would have been good enough for second-place at state last season.
Asked is she envisioned herself notching that kind of time, she chuckled and said "no."
"I didn't really think I was going to run that fast of a time," said Conlan, who had spent much of the season trying to consistently clock sub 13-second runs. "The whole year I'd been really kind of struggling to get my time in the 12s. But as soon as I looked up on that board and saw that time, I was super surprised."
That accomplishment was the result of a lot of work and belief.
"The thing with Mollee is she was patient and got better each week and understood that that's what's gonna happen — it's gonna take time," said Butte track and field coach Arie Grey. "The end of the year, you want to be running your best and she's definitely doing that."
Conlan, who will also anchor Butte's 4x400 relay team, will now compete in the 100 as the best runner out of the division when the State AA meet kicks off in Butte at Charlie Merrifield Track. She knows that she'll be running against some of the best in the state, especially defending 100 champion Jaeden Wolff of Billings West.
Still, there's no denying that getting to compete on her home track and doing so as a divisional champ will give Conlan a welcome boost.
"Obviously there's some really fast girls from the east that I need to look out for," she said. "But still, going in being a conference champ like it really helps a lot to build my confidence."