Editor's Note: Montana State Athletics Press Release
BOZEMAN — Five Montana State track and field standouts will compete at the 2022 Toyota USATF Outdoor Championships beginning on Thursday at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. Competing this week will be Duncan Hamilton and Levi Taylor (steeplechase), Drake Schneider (400m hurdles) Lucy Corbett (high jump) and Cantor Coverdell (javelin).
The five student-athletes are the most to represent Montana State at the US Championships. “It’s really exciting to have five compete at the highest level, a level beyond the NCAA Championships. I can’t wait to get there and see them compete,” said Dale Kennedy Director of Track & Field/Cross Country Lyle Weese.
Weese, who was a four-time All-American for the Bobcats, competed in the steeplechase at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials and is familiar with what it takes to calm nerves to maximize performance. “It’s sticking to your routine and doing things really similar to how you have always done them in every meet. On meet day it’s about locking into what you usually do going into a meet.”
All five Bobcats took different paths to qualify for the US Championships. Hamilton, a Bozeman product, and Taylor, a Laurel native, will open MSU’s stay at historic Hayward Field in the semifinals of 3,000-meter steeplechase on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. (MT).
Hamilton, who finished second at the 2002 NCAA Outdoor Championships, led the pack the entire race before being edged out at the finish line by Eastern Kentucky’s Ahmed Jaziri. Hamilton’s time of 8:18.88 was the third fastest ever recorded by a collegiate runner and established a new Big Sky Conference record.
Heading into Thursday’s race, Hamilton doesn’t see any reason for making changes and will stick to his mindset of pushing the pace. “That’s definitely how I run best. A lot of races are tactical, especially like the 1500, everybody just likes to rely on their kick, but I know I’m more of an aerobic athlete, so it makes the most sense for me to drag everybody into deep water, and then see who is the fittest and who can hang with the pace.”
Hamilton is MSU’s top veteran when it comes to racing in the postseason. He has competed in six consecutive NCAA meets, qualifying in every cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track championships the past two seasons.
Thursday, he will have a shot at the World Championships with a top three finish, having reached the standard time with his performance 12 days ago. Knowing he’s reached the standard will take some pressure off in the semifinals. “I think when I’m lining up, I will definitely feel a bit of pressure. What works best for me is if I’m relaxed and try to think of it as any other race. Going in ranked in the top three, I don’t need to out-perform a ton and just sit at where I’m at. It’s a super dense pack from 8:18 to 8:20 – there a ton of us there, so there will be a lot of guys in contention. I just got to try to beat as many people as I can.”
Taylor finished ninth at the NCAA championships, earning Second Team All-America honors. His mark of 8:33.37 was the second fastest of his career. Taylor and Hamilton cut back their training the past week in preparation for the semifinal round. “We’re just kind of keeping it chill, keeping the volume down and trying to keep the legs fresh,” Taylor said. “Nationals is definitely a big goal coming into college. I’m just going to do my best and see what happens.”
For Schneider, who begins his USATF meet with a quarterfinal race on Friday at 7:35 p.m., his appearance on the national stage running the 400-meter hurdles – a Bobcat first – has been a long time coming. And he relishes his role as the underdog.
“Five years of a lot of work,” Schneider stated. “Walking on here (Montana State) and working my butt off for five years towards a goal and it finally happened. I walked-on here and nobody ever expected me to make it this far and that chips away at you every single day, especially when you’re getting a lot better, and you’re still an underdog even once you’re not anymore. That definitely weighs on you and is a good motivating source to try and spite the people who think you can’t do it.”
Schneider, a four-time Big Sky Conference champion in the 400m-hurdles, placed sixth at the NCAA Championships in 49.75 to earn First Team All-America honors, becoming the first Bobcat sprinter in history to accomplish the milestone.
Corbett, a Bozeman High grad and one of four Montanans competing this week for the Bobcats, tied for 15th in the high jump at the NCAA Championships, earning Second Team All-America honors. The two-time Big Sky Conference outdoor champion became just the second multiple-time All-American outdoors in Bobcat women's history. She joined Ellie Rudy who took fourth in 2007 and sixth in 2006 in the pole vault at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Corbett competes in the high jump finals on Friday at 7:15 p.m., and heads into the competition tied for fifth in the nation. After finding success on the track, Corbett’s confidence has soared. “Not until last year, actually until I made the Olympic trials (did I think I could compete at this level),” she said. “I was like okay, maybe I could compete at a higher level beyond college, but before that I was just here having fun.”
Coverdell, a junior from Fairfield, captured the javelin title at the annual Cat-Griz dual with a lifetime best 223-11. He placed seventh in the event at the Big Sky Championships (199-1) and was 17th at the NCAA West Preliminary Round in Fayetteville, Ark., with a throw of 212-2. Coverdell with compete in the javelin finals on Sunday at 1:35 p.m.