(University of Montana media release)
MISSOULA — The nine athletes signed to National Letters of Intent by the Montana men’s track and field program this spring cover the range of the sport’s event areas like they span the map.
Converging on Missoula in the fall to begin their careers as Grizzlies will be a decathlete from Illinois, a sprinter from Arizona, a distance runner from California, a thrower from Oregon and a jumper from Cut Bank, with a little bit of everything else filling in the event and geographic gaps.
And that’s in addition to the program’s November signee, Andrea Baratte, a middle-distance runner from Luxembourg.
“This is a class with really good balance,” said coach Brian Schweyen. “We’re getting a little bit of everything. We’re getting throwers, we’re getting distance, we’re getting mid-distance, we’re getting sprints, we’re getting jumps, we’re getting multis.
“That’s what we want to see out of our recruiting. We want to keep a balance and build off the strengths we already have within each group.”
Two of the signees are from Montana: Casey Cole, a javelin thrower from Laurel, and Seth Omsberg, a jumper from Cut Bank.
From the Midwest, Schweyen and his staff are bringing in Rhett Streeter from Le Sueur, Minn., and Nathan Graves from Rock Island, Ill.
Trevor Henry and Courtlynd Brown are from Las Vegas and Mesa, Ariz., respectively, and covering the Pacific coast states are Kyle Kredo of Mission Viejo, Calif., Brent Yeakey of Redmond, Ore., and Jordan Stow of Mill Creek, Wash.
“This is a pretty talented group. You never really know until they get here, but I foresee some of these athletes really being something down the road,” said Schweyen.
With Brendan Thurber-Blaser, Josh Riley and Grant Whitcutt, all of whom were freshmen this spring, Montana has the best, young multi-events group in the Big Sky Conference.
Graves (Alleman HS) and Stow (Henry Jackson HS) will only make it that much stronger.
Graves has PRs of 6-3 in the high jump, 21-11 in the long jump, 169-10 in the discus and 46-9 in the shot put. Stow has gone 23-2 in the long jump, 6-2 in the high jump and 13-0 in the pole vault.
“It’s a great group of talent that they’ll be joining, and that group will really help push them as they start training for all of the events,” said Schweyen. “They’ll also come in and help push the group that’s already here, so I think it’s a good mix.”
The program’s two in-state signees are Cole and Omsberg. Cole was the Class B state champion in the javelin as a sophomore for Forsyth High before moving west to Laurel. He finished second last month at the Class A state meet with a PR of 193-10 that was two inches off the winning throw.
Omsberg has prep PRs of 22-2.25 in the long jump and 6-6 in the high jump. The latter was cleared last month as Omsberg won the event at the Class B state meet.
It’s a small group of in-state signees. That wasn’t by design as much as it reflects the nature of recruiting.
“We looked at all the top athletes in the state, and I thought we were going to get five or six more. But we just missed out, whether that came down to financial or whatever, and that’s the way it goes sometimes,” Schweyen said. “Some years we get them, some years we don’t.
“But we’re also looking everywhere we can for the best talent. We want to get quality people in our program who can help us athletically was well. I do like getting Montana kids, but it doesn’t matter where we find them.”
Long an area that hasn’t been a big point producer for the Grizzlies, the sprints continue to improve both in performance and in depth under assistant coach Paul Reneau.
Dominique Bobo, Callum Macnab, Alex Mustard and Sterling Reneau each has been an All-Big Sky Conference performer the last two years. All will be back next winter and spring to shepherd Brown and Streeter.
“The biggest thing is getting them here and giving them some consistency in their training,” said Reneau. “Our guys are ready to take them under their wings.
“My goal is to build the best sprint program in the conference, so I’m looking forward to getting more pieces and developing them. I want to make sure our sprint group is doing our part to help the team succeed. To be a successful team, we have to have good parts.”
Brown, a graduate of Desert Ridge High, and Streeter, a graduate of Le Sueur-Henderson High, both have PRs in the 100 meters in the low 10.8s. Streeter’s best time in the 200 meters is 22.43.
“Courtlynd is a football player who really ran just three track meets last year and still put up times. He has really got a lot of talent,” said Reneau. “Rhett is one of those kids who really wants to learn and really wants to get better. The kid is determined.
“I think they’re going to fit at this level. Both of them are capable of running really fast.”
Yeakey, who competed at Ridgeview High, is the group’s biggest signee, both literally and figuratively. He had PRs as a senior of 63-0.5 in the shot put and 190-8 in the discus, and swept both events at the Oregon Class 5A state meet last month.
He will join in Montana’s group of throwers Kyle Morris, another Oregon product who scored points for the Grizzlies as a freshman this year. He was sixth in the shot put at the indoor championships and had a runner-up finish in the javelin outdoors.
“Brent is a great talent who really came on this year. His marks as a junior were impressive, and he made great strides this year to become someone who is a great get for us,” said Schweyen. “I am very excited about his future as a Griz.”
Henry, a graduate of Bishop Gorman High, ran a 1:54.13 in the 800 meters last month to place third at the Nevada Class 4A state meet.
Jordon Wallin, Karsten Pease and Noah Adams all ran 1:54.01 or faster during the outdoor season, with Pease scoring in the event at the Big Sky championships. All will be back next year.
“Trevor is someone who has a lot of untapped potential that we haven’t even begun to see in the 800. I look forward to working with him,” said assistant coach Vicky Pounds.
Kredo had a prep PR of 4:24.78 in the 1,600 meters, a time that equates to a 4:06 for the 1,500 meters. He made a 10-second improvement in the event from his junior to senior year.
“Kyle was in touch with me all through last year, and I gave him the times he had to hit for us to consider adding him,” said Pounds. “He went out and had an amazing senior year. He came on an unofficial visit and seemed to fit in great with the guys.
“I’m excited to have him join a group that is maturing and progressing as we move forward. We didn’t lose anybody, so we’ll have a stronger team than we did last year.”