STORY BY MONTANA SPORTS INFORMATION
FLAGSTAFF, AZ – Montana opened the Big Sky Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships as good as it could have hoped for on Thursday. With just one event complete, Montana has the only champion thus far.
The women’s pentathlon has been an event Montana has dominated in recent memory, and freshman Jansen Ziola is the next in line. A Montana athlete has been the Big Sky champion in the indoor pentathlon each of the last three seasons and six times in the past eight years.
Ziola was the favorite heading into the meet, owning the top pentathlon score by a Big Sky athlete this season. However, she had competed in the event just twice before and not since early January. She totaled 3,643 points on Thursday – a season best.
Ziola, a native of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, was incredibly consistent throughout the day, leading to the top overall score. She began the day with second-place performances in the 60-meter hurdles (8.87) and high jump (5-4.25). She also placed third in both the long jump (18-3.25) and 800 meters (2:21.77).
She recorded lifetime bests in the 60-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put and 800 meters. Of the five events, the only event Ziola didn’t place in the top three was in the shot put, recording a mark of 29-0 (17th out of 22).
In addition to Ziola, Montana was the only school to have four athletes place in the top 16. Senior Jenna Dukovcic was 12th (3,214), sophomore Hannah Coburn placed 15th (3,091) and freshman Jaree Mane was 16th out of 21 finishers (3,056).
Dukovcic was near lifetime bests in both the high jump and 800 meters. Mane finished in the upper half in the shot put and 800 meters, and recorded a lifetime best in the 60-meter hurdles (9.55). Coburn placed third in the 60-meter hurdles and posted a lifetime best in the high jump (5-0.5; 10th).
The first four events of the men’s heptathlon also took place on Thursday. Just more than halfway through, sophomore Grant Whitcutt is in 10th place out of 16 athletes, while sophomore Morgan Eitel is in 13th.
Whitcutt posted a lifetime best in the 60 meters (7.54) and placed third in the high jump (6-4.25). Eitel tied a career best in the 60 meters (7.66) and finished in the upper half of the field for the shot put (36-3; eighth) and high jump (lifetime-best 6-2; sixth).
Day 2 of the Championships begins Friday at 3 p.m. The remainder of the meet can be streamed for free on WatchBigSky.com and Pluto TV channel 230.