(Editor's note: Montana State and Montana press releases)
POCATELLO, Idaho—The Montana State track and field program completed a solid performance as the Bobcat men's and women's teams each placed runner-up at the 2022 Big Sky Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Saturday, May 14, at Davis Field.
MSU's women scored 125 points which was the squad's highest total at the meet since 2015. MSU's men recorded 119 points. The Bobcats' second-place finishes by both the men and women in the same year is the program's best effort at the Big Sky outdoor meet in 10 years. Northern Arizona's men's and women's teams won the Big Sky titles by scoring conference meet record totals of 185 and 244 points, respectively.
"We had two great meets," said Lyle Weese, Montana State's Dale Kennedy Director of Track and Field, about his teams' performance. "Both teams came here and really competed their hearts out. There's not much more you could ask for."
The Bobcats hauled in multiple specialty awards from the Big Sky Conference.
Senior Drake Schneider was awarded the men's Most Outstanding Performer honor for demolishing the Big Sky record in the 400-meter hurdles. Schneider completed a four-peat individual title in the event by clocking a time of 49.04 seconds. That mark placed him among the top five in the NCAA this outdoor season and among the top 10 times in the world this year.
Schneider became MSU's first male four-peat champion in a specific event in program history. He is the sixth men's athlete in the conference's history to achieve the feat.
"It was fulfilling," Schneider said. "It was expected so it was a bit of a relief for me. I finished the job so I'm glad I got it done. I'm excited but it's kind of short-lived."
What Schneider referred to was the final event of the day for the men's squad; the 4x400 relay. He served as the anchor leg of a relay that included Alex Hershey , Will Anderson and Chris Bianchini that claimed gold. Their time of 3:10.78 is the second fastest in program history.
Elena Carter and Alex Hellenberg ended the championship by sharing the women's Most Valuable Athlete award accolades.
Hellenberg set three lifetime bests over the course of two days. After a second-place finish in the long jump on Friday, Hellenberg followed it up Saturday by taking first in the triple jump and pole vault. She opened the triple jump competition with the top mark and improved on it, eventually finishing with a new school-record leap of 42 feet (12.85m). She continued her success in the pole vault. Despite missing on one attempt at an earlier height, Hellenberg eventually outlasted the competition and cleared an event-high 13-04.50 (4.08m).
"I thought I was going to throw up while I was warming up for the triple jump because I was so nervous," Hellenberg said. "I had big expectations, so to be able to come out and hit it was really nice to finish out my career (in the event).
"We were kind of trying to think about strategizing and passing if somebody cleared, but for me, I just wanted to clear as many bars as possible," Hellenberg said of her pole vault appearance. "Whether that means if I come in second, if I can hit a PR, that's what matters. I think I set myself up nicely going into regionals."
Carter was the first-place finisher in the long jump on Friday and carried momentum from the day prior into Saturday. She was the lead leg of MSU's 4x100 relay that included Morgan Evans, Morgan Hanson and Macy White that won gold in a school-record time of 45.47. Carter claimed another short hurdles first-place showing, following a 60 hurdles title indoors, with her wind-aided time of 13.24. She was joined on the podium by Evans who clocked a 13.45 and claimed her top individual showing of her college career by earning a silver medal. Carter broke the school record in the 100 by clocking 11.56 and took second, while White tied for fourth in the event with a time of 11.74, good for third all-time in program history.
"I think the highlight for me was us winning the 4x100," Carter said. "That wasn't exactly on the table, we wanted to podium, so winning was the craziest feeling ever. It was hard to amp down to run the hurdles.
"It was so cool," Carter said of going 1-2 in the 100 hurdles with Evans. "We raced each other through high school, in college, so it was awesome to finish conference like this and to go to regionals together now."
The Bobcats' remaining podium efforts featured standout efforts.
Ben Perrin completed his second all-conference performance at the meet as he stuck with the lead pack of NAU runners in the 5,000 and earned silver with a time of 14:10.55. He was joined by fellow Bobcats in Levi Taylor (14:18.61), Duncan Hamilton (14:25.67) and Matthew Richtman (14:25.73) who placed in the 8-10 slots.
Will Anderson earned his first all-conference individual honors as he was out-kicked late in the 400. He finished runner-up behind a time of 47.02 which is third fastest on MSU's all-time top 10 list.
Bianchini, Hamilton and Ian Fosdick each claimed bronze medals Saturday. Bianchini led for a majority of the 800 and closed out a personal-best time of 1:50.34. Hamilton earned his second straight all-conference performance in the 1,500 as he finished in 3:44.58. Fosdick had multiple triple jumps over 50 feet in a battle among athletes vying for podium position. His eventual wind-legal best of 51-02.75 (15.61m) set a new program record that had been held since 1990.
MSU's women's team had a variety of high finishers that strung together points over the course of competition.
The Bobcat javelin duo of Angellica Street and Celestia Hamond placed fourth and fifth, respectively with throws of 150-07 (45.91m) and 148-09 (45.35m). Twila Reovan and Taylor Brisendine each set new marks on MSU's top 10 chart in the triple jump. Reovan took fifth behind a leap of 39-10.50 (12.15) putting her fourth in program history. Brisendine completed a lifetime-best mark of 39-03 (11.96m) that placed her seventh on the Bobcat list.
Maisee Brown joined the pole vault all-time top 10 at MSU with her clearance of 12-03.75 (3.73m) and finished seventh. Evelyn Adams completed a time of 14.12 in the 100 hurdles to cap a 20-point Bobcat showing in the event. Madison Smith took sixth in the 800 thanks to personal-best time of 2:13.64. Jordan Fink (46-06.25) and Leah Klein (45-07.75) took sixth and seventh, respectively, in the shot put.
The Bobcat men's throws group was led by Matt Furdyk on Staurday. He finished seventh in both the hammer throw and discus behind lifetime bests of 191-10 (58.49m) and 163-07 (49.87m).
A variety of MSU athletes nearly scored points for the Bobcats. For the women's side, Madi Arneson took ninth in the shot put, Mya Dube placed 10th in the 1,500 and Kylie Christiansen finished 11th in the javelin. MSU's men had Alec Nering take ninth in the discus and Riley Collins finished 1th in the 1,500.
The Montana State track and field program now looks ahead to the NCAA Division I West Preliminary Round. The regional meet takes place in Fayetteville, Arkansas, from May 25-28.
On the weekend, the Grizzlies reached the podium six times, including Ziola twice (also the long jump) and Tanessa Morris (hammer) and Evan Todd (javelin) winning individual Big Sky Conference titles.
Montana's men placed in the middle of the pack, in sixth place, with 58 points on the weekend, while the Griz women finished ninth, with 37.5 points. Ziola, who scored three times for 16 total points, scored nearly half of Montana's points on the women's side.
Northern Arizona dominated the meet, winning both the men's and women's championships by a wide margin.
Men's discus – Brent Yeakey (179-9, 3rd/24); Matt Ward (152-8, 12th); Colton Root (PR 138-2, 19th)
Brent Yeakey had four throws of at least 170 feet in the discus, but saved his best throw for his final one, marking 179-9 – just 12 inches shy of his own school record. The distance secured Yeakey a podium finish, just 3 inches shy of second place.
Yeakey will finish his Griz career as an 11-time scorer in the shot put and discus, reaching the podium in the discus in back-to-back seasons (he placed second in 2021). He owns school records for the shot put (indoor and outdoor) and discus (outdoor) and has qualified for NCAA Regionals in both events, with the chance to return in the discus in 2022 following Saturday's season-best performance.
Men's 400 meters (finals) – Paul Johnstone (47.15, 3rd)
Being the final runner to qualify from Friday's preliminary race, it's fair to say that the attention was not on Paul Johnstone entering the finals of the 400 meters. It stayed that way for about 325 meters as Johnstone was consistently in seventh or eighth place. But coming around the final corner, and running in the inside lane, Johnstone went from out of the video frame to a third-place finish (47.15).
The time was a PR by nearly a full second, and 1.69 seconds better than his time on Friday. It marks his fourth career podium finish, but first for a standalone outdoor race (he placed second in the indoor 60-meter hurdles and has twice won the 4x400-meter relay). A season ago, Johnstone's twin brother, Cade, who is redshirting this spring, set a school record to win the men's 400 meters.
Women's 100-meter hurdles (finals) – Jansen Ziola (PR 13.71, 3rd)
Saturday marked the ninth time in her career that Jansen Ziola has reached the podium, but the first time in the 100-meter hurdles. She ran a lifetime-best time of 13.71 to place third. The time was 11-hundredths of a second better than she ran on Friday, in the preliminary round.
Men's 110-meter hurdles (finals) – Jaydon Green (PR 14.38, 4th)
One day after cutting two-tenths of a second off of his lifetime best in the 110-meter hurdles, on Saturday, Jaydon Green shaved off even more time, placing fourth with a time of 14.38. The time was 14-hundredths of a second off of a Montana school record, despite Green clipping several hurdles late after being among the leaders through the first half of the sprint.
Men's hammer – Matt Ward (PR 209-0, 4th/20); Noah Ramirez (162-2, 16th); Colton Root (153-2, 18th)
Matt Ward fouled on five of his six throwing attempts, but his first throw – his only marked one – was good enough to earn him a fourth-place finish in the hammer as the sophomore from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho recorded a 3-foot PR.
In fact, with a throw of 209-0, Ward led the field through two rounds, before dropping to third after the preliminary throws and fourth in the finals. He was just 4 inches shy of reaching the podium, but spun out of the ring on many of his attempts, resulting in no marks.
Men's 800 meters (finals) – Quincy Fast (1:50.40, 5th)
Quincy Fast earned a fifth-place finish in the 800 meters with a solid time of 1:50.40. Fast held third place through the first 600 meters of the race, but over the final half-lap tried to make a push for second, but instead fell back to fourth and eventually fifth place. Third through sixth place were all within nine-hundredths of a second of each other.
Women's 400-meter hurdles (finals) – Jansen Ziola (PR 1:00.71, 5th); Holly Sudol (1:02.84, 8th)
Montana was one of just two schools to have two point-scorers in the 400-meter hurdles, led by Jansen Ziola, who finished fifth with a half-second PR of 1:00.71. Ziola was in seventh in the final straightaway before making a move over the final 100 meters. Teammate Holly Sudol finished eighth (1:02.84).
Women's javelin – Jaree Mane (PR 141-3, 8th/19); Sierrah Hardy (131-9, 13th); Autumn Morse (128-11, 17th); Kylie Frohlich (125-2, 19th)
Jaree Mane came into the week seeded just 18th in the javelin, but surprised many, recording a 10-foot PR on her third attempt on Saturday to qualify for the finals, and then improved that mark several more times to score in the event for the first time in her career. Her final four throws all went at least 137 feet, topped by a 141-3 on her fifth attempt.
Mane will now conclude her career as an eight-time scorer, in five different events, not to mention being this year's President's Award winner for the top GPA in the athletics department.
Women's pole vault – Shealyne McGee (PR 11-9, T-8th/15); Molly Chambers (11-3, 12th)
A pair of Griz freshmen competed in the pole vault, with both Shealyne McGee and Molly Chambers clearing the initial height of 11-3. McGee then tied a PR at 11-9, passing on her first attempt, before bowing out of the competition tied for eighth place.
Men's 4x100-meter relay – A: Kip Krebsbach, Jason Upton, Cooper Hewett, Paul Johnstone (41.70, 7th/9)
Competing in the first section, against Idaho State, Montana led the Bengals for the first half of the race before falling behind late in the race. Then, the baton was handed off to Paul Johnstone, who chased down his competitor to win in impressive fashion, by eight-hundredths of a second. Montana's time of 41.70 was a season best and placed the Grizzlies seventh.
Men's 4x400-meter relay – A: Jay Beagle, Will Dauenhauer, Quincy Fast, Paul Johnstone (3:17.96)
Montana ran a season-best race, by nearly 4 seconds no less, to finish seventh in the 4x400-meter relay, with Johnstone scoring for the third time on Saturday (also 400 meters and 4x100-meter hurdles).
Women's 4x100-meter relay – A: Emma Normand, Abby Harmon, Camryn Dezember, Catie Buck (47.91, 6th/10)
Women's 4x400-meter relay – A: Camryn Dezember, Katie Whitehurst, Abby Harmon, Holly Sudol (3:56.07, 9th/10)
Men's triple jump – Jason Upton (PR 44-5.5, 10th/11); Zane Johnson (43-9.25, 11th)
Jason Upton was Montana's top performer in the triple jump, recording a 4-inch PR at 44-5.5 to finish 10th.
Women's triple jump – Ailsa Gilbert (38-8.75, 13th/18); Morgan Radtke (36-7.5, 15th)
Ailsa Gilbert had a strong performance in the triple jump, getting within 9 inches of a PR on her first attempt (38-8.75), but it wasn't enough to advance, as she finished 13th in the field. Meanwhile, Morgan Radtke – known for her skills in the high jump and heptathlon – competed in the triple jump for the first time ever during outdoor, jumping 36-7.5 to finish 15th.
Men's 5,000 meters – Ben Vanderbosch (14:52.15, 16th/36); Nathan Carter (14:52.59, 17th); Jordan Hansen (14:52.98, 18th); Ellis McKean (PR 15:02.70, 22nd); AJ Eckmann (PR 15:44.22, 34th); Joel Mendez (DNF)
The Grizzlies had three runners finish in the upper-half of the crowded 5,000-meters race, with all three breaking the 15-minute barrier. Two more runners recorded PRs.
Women's 5,000 meters – Olivia Lackland Henry (17:45.52, 15th/27); Beatrix Frissell (18:31.02, 20th)
Montana also had a pair of competitors in the women's 5,000 meters, with Olivia Lackland Henry pacing the Griz (17:45.52).
Women's shot put – Jaree Mane (39-6.5, 17th/22)
After having to step away from the heptathlon after just one event due to injury, Jaree Mane made her return to competition on Saturday, throwing 39-6.5 in the shot put. The distance was within a foot of a PR, but wasn't enough to move her to the finals.
Men's high jump – Alfred Peterson (NH)
A season after placing seventh in the high jump, Alfred Peterson was unable to clear the initial height of 6-2.25 on Saturday. It was uncharacteristic for the Dillon native, who has cleared 6-6.75 during his career, and just last week passed 6-4.75.
Women's 100 meters (finals) – Catie Buck (DNS)
After setting a school record in the 100 meters on Friday (11.80), Catie Buck was unfortunately unable to start on Saturday, leaving points on the table.
Men's Team Standings
1. Northern Arizona, 185
2. Montana State, 119
3. Idaho, 100
4. Idaho State, 83
5. Weber State, 76
6. Montana, 58
7. Northern Colorado, 49
8. Southern Utah, 47.5
9. Sacramento State, 46.5
10. Eastern Washington, 42
11. Portland State, 11
Women's Team Standings
1. Northern Arizona, 244
2. Montana State, 125
3. Sacramento State, 82.5
4. Weber State, 67
5. Eastern Washington, 66
6. Idaho, 62
7. Idaho State, 59
8. Southern Utah, 42
9. Montana, 37.5
10. Northern Colorado, 33