Bea Frissell sets class A 3200 record at state meet
Polson's Bea Frissell repeats as Missoula-area athletes win 38 state titles during spring season
Exerpts from article by FRANK GOGOLA of the Missoulian
MISSOULA — Polson senior Bea Frissell closed her decorated high school career as a six-time state champion, winning two cross country championships and four track titles.
But that level of success as a top distance runner in Class A may not have happened without a key change her sophomore year. Frissell grew up loving soccer, so it was tough to convince her to leave the sport for cross country in the fall. But Matt Seeley, the Pirates' cross country coach who also now coaches the track distance team, eventually got her to convert.
“Soccer had my heart back then,” recalled Frissell, a future Montana Grizzly cross country and track runner. “Matt’s daughter Malia was on the track team, and I remember it got to the point where he’d stand outside the fence and yell out to coach us even though he wasn’t the track and field distance coach at the time.
"Eventually I would search for his face in the crowd because I depended on him being there. I grew to think he was such an amazing coach. I became good friends with his daughter Malia, and she was one of the big factors in me doing cross country.”
Frissell was one of the Missoula-area athletes who brought home an awards haul of 38 state championships over the past two weeks to cap the spring sports season. Their hardware included six team titles and 32 individual, relay or doubles titles. The girls won 22 championships, while the boys won 16.
In Class A, Frissell repeated as the state champ in the 1,600 and 3,200 with a bang. She broke the Class A record in the 3,200 set by Belgrade’s Pipi Eitel, her top competitor when she was an underclassman. Frissell’s time of 10:47.33 was 9.36 seconds faster than Eitel’s time in 2017.
Seeley felt Frissell exceeded the expectations he had for her in both sports, especially since she doesn’t come from a distance-running family, like he said many of the state’s top distance runners do.
“I would attribute (her success) to her incredible dedication and hard work,” Seeley said. “She has quite a bit of talent. She’s just not a natural for running in terms of stride, but she's very much a hard worker. She likes the strategy of racing. The mental side of it and her competitiveness are her two big things in racing. And then all the hard training and dedication.”
Frissell set personal records in both the 1,600 and 3,200 at state. She credited her cross country training of high-mileage runs with helping her develop more strength on the track.
Frissell's personal records throughout this season impressed Seeley after he saw her reach a plateau as a junior. Even she was still in awe of her two times at state on Tuesday afternoon.
“As I think back, it’s still a little shocking,” Frissell said. “I think, ‘Wow, I PR’d by so much in both races.’ That still surprises me quite a bit. As I think back, it makes me incredibly proud and happy what I managed to do. Then on Sunday, I got food poisoning, so it was a bit of a fall. I’m still recovering from that.”
Frissell will be coming to Montana this fall to compete in cross country and track on an athletic scholarship and a Presidential Leadership Scholarship, an academic award of which there are only about 25 given out each year to incoming freshmen. She chose the Griz over offers from Montana State and Portland State, among others.
“I thought about going out of state and felt like I’m not quite ready to leave Montana,” Frissell said. “I grew up here and just love how easy it is to do things like walk out the door and go on a hike. Being close to the mountains for a bit longer and enjoying the culture at Montana and the girls on the team really drew me there.”