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Super Senior: Don Blankenship works in flooring and plays on the track

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Posted at 5:49 PM, Apr 22, 2024

The day starts early for Don Blankenship. If you have ever stopped by the Carpet Barn in Billings, there’s a good chance you’ve met him.

“I’m here at six in the morning and I leave at two,” Don says. “The people are fun. I enjoy talking to the people. I guess what that has kept me here that long.”

He’s worked in the flooring business for parts of seven decades.

“I never had the idea of doing flooring, When I went to college, I was going to be a PE teacher that is what I wanted to do and go from there and coach. It didn’t happen right away,” he says.

But it did happen. A short time after leaving his day job, you’ll find him on the track at Billings Senior High School. He has also helped coach track there at his alma matre for the past 22 years.

“I just really enjoy them because they kind of make me laugh and I try to make them laugh and enjoy what they are doing. And when it is time to get serious then we got to get serious, too,” he says.

Don is a favorite with many of the student-athletes.

“I’ve gotten a lot faster since last year and he told me that now he doesn’t have to use a sun dial to time me, he can actually use a stopwatch,” Junior Ula Jones laughed. “He is just really sweet and encouraging.”

“He is really funny, and he is always super encouraging, but he is never so encouraging that it feels like he is babying us,” says Sophomore Antone Delavan.

Don knows a thing or two about running—having been part of some of Billings Senior's great cross-country teams of the late '60s.

“Barney Meyers was my coach and he lived to be almost 110 years old, and we had a team that took state all three years. I finally won the individual state title my senior year."

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Blankenship went on to Eastern Montana College, now MSUB, where he lettered in five sports for the Yellowjackets as a freshman.

He is a member of the MSUB Athletics Hall of Fame—using his experience to teach and coach others.

“They are just really good and I just have fun with them. That makes me feel younger too. I walk off the track when track season ends, and they say, are you glad it’s over? And I say, I wish it was going every day,” he says.

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Click here to nominate someone for Q2’s Super Senior segment.