The snow falling on Butte, Mont. during the state track and field championships was no barrier for Danielle Aragon, who powered through it and set a new Montana record in the 800 meters: 2:08.31.
After all, the snow wasn’t sticking to the ground. Flurries blew through over the course of the two-day championships at Butte High School, something not unheard of on Memorial Day weekend in Big Sky country.
“We’re used to not picking our weather when we have track meets,” said Aragon, a senior at Billings Senior. “I just try to put wind or snow or any of that stuff out of my mind.”
Aragon competed in five events for her team, placing second in the 400 (57.23) and winning the 800, the 1,600 (4:56.43) and the 3,200 (11:09.23). She won the same three events last year. And she also anchored Senior’s second-place 4x400 relay to help her team win the team championship.
In the 800, Aragon said she was aiming for a 64-second first lap and then hoping to hold on long enough to take down the state meet record of 2:11.
The plan worked. She was on pace through 400 meters and then with 200 left she could hear the crowd begin to cheer for her. She fed off that energy all the way to the finish line.
The snow was never a factor.
“I like snow better than rain,” Aragon said. “It wasn’t like it was making everything soaking wet. It really wasn’t too bad.”
In between races, the athletes took shelter inside the Butte High gymnasium.
Aragon’s time in the 800 is US#10.
“I definitely didn’t think I could go 2:08,” she said. “It really surprised me.”
And yet, given her genetics, maybe it’s not that big of a surprise.
Aragon’s father, Chuck, was an exceptional miler during the 1980s and had a PR of 3:51. He was ranked in the top 10 in the U.S. every year from 1981-87. He was Notre Dame’s first sub-four minute miler and also the first native of New Mexico to accomplish the feat.
Dani’s mother, Kathy, is also a local running legend. She competed in three Olympic Trials (1984, 1988 and 2004) in the marathon (twice) and 10,000 (once).
And Danielle will follow her older sister Alexa to Notre Dame, where they will run for the fighting Irish, just like their dad did. (Coincidentally, the Aragons’ neighbor is related to Foot Locker champ Molly Seidel, who also signed with Notre Dame).
This weekend, "Dani" will compete at the Great Southwest Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M., and try to run another fast time in the 800.
“I’m hoping I can do (2:08) again,” she said.
It will be her fourth trip to Great Southwest. Last year, Aragon was third in the 800, running 2:13.07.
“It’s always been a good trip,” she said. “It’s good to be exposed to so many talented athletes but it’s also kind of a shocker. (In Montana) I need to pace myself and run my race how I want it. (At Great Southwest) you get thrown in with all these great runners. I have to run a little differently when I go there.”
Another thing that will be different this weekend is the weather.
Aragon may be glad to know that snow is not in the forecast this weekend. Instead, it’s supposed to be in the upper 90s in Albuquerque on Friday and Saturday.