(Editor’s note: University of Montana athletics release)
MISSOULA – Montana put together its best day of the outdoor season on Saturday, hosting five local schools in the 2018 Montana Open. The Grizzlies had plenty of success across the board, winning 15 total events.
“We saw good things everywhere today,” head coach Brian Schweyen said. “You saw a lot of marks jump up, and they will continue to do so. We know we have talent here. We just have to keep getting better, like we did today.”
Below is a look at Montana’s 15 event wins:
- Women’s 400 meters – Despite the 800 meters being her specialty, sophomore Carly Smiedala has been dominant in the 400 meters so far this spring, winning the event both times she has competed. On Saturday, she posted a 56.58 to win the race by 3.5 seconds.
- Men’s 400 meters – Freshman Trevor Henry ran a career-best 50.22 to win the 22-runner event.
- Women’s 800 meters – Senior Emily Cheroske won her second consecutive 800-meters race with a season-best time of 2:12.40. She led from start to finish, winning by more than 4 seconds.
- Men’s 800 meters – After a third-place finish last week in Spokane, junior Karsten Pease won the 800 meters on Saturday (1:54.74).
- Men’s 400-meter hurdles – Sophomore Chase Armstrong ran a personal-best 54.91 to win the 400-meter hurdles. He also placed second in the 110-meter hurdles and was the anchor of the winning 4×400-meter relay team.
- Women’s 4×400-meter relay – A team of Smiedala, Mijah McLeod, Madeline Hamilton and Cheroske won with a time of 3:51.61.
- Men’s 4×400-meter relay – Made up of Colton Hess, Jacob Lamb, Josh Riley and Armstrong, Montana held off a final push from Carroll’s A team to win by one-thousandth of a second (3:19.57).
- Women’s shot put – Sophomore Mariah Harvey posted a lifetime best in the shot put, recording a 42-11.75 to win the event for the first time this season.
- Men’s shot put – Freshman Brent Yeakey won the event by more than 3 feet, throwing a distance of 51-11.75.
- Women’s discus throw – Sophomore Holly Houston has won the discus in all three meets this season, but Saturday was special. Her mark of 154-0 was an improvement of nearly 22 feet from last week’s meet in Spokane.
- Men’s discus throw – In addition to his win in the shot put, Yeakey also won the discus (154-5) by 14 feet. It marked the first two wins of his outdoor career, after finishing second three times in the past two weeks.
- Women’s javelin throw – Like Houston, Zena Smith is now 3-for-3 on the season, winning the javelin in all three meets. Her mark on Saturday (149-7) was a career best and is right in line with where the regional-qualification cutoff generally is.
- Men’s javelin throw – Jensen Lillquist continues to find his form after redshirting a year ago. The junior won his second event of the season with a season-best 214-7.
- Women’s triple jump – Madison Neufeld led a trio of Grizzlies in the triple jump with a top mark of 37-5.75, a season best.
- Women’s high jump – Freshman Abby Dodge posted marks of 5-1 in Montana’s two previous meets of the outdoor season before making the jump on Saturday to 5-5.75. The major improvement was not only good enough to win the event but was Montana’s top mark of the season.
In addition to several Montana athletes who won events while competing unattached, due to redshirt, the Grizzlies also had the top attached performers in the women’s 5,000 meters (Madison Carr; 19:32.07) and women’s hammer throw (Harvey; 164-11).
“There were so many highlights today, it’s hard to name them all,” Schweyen said. “I was impressed with Emily (Cheroske), running by herself again. That’s not easy to do, but that’s big time. Abby (Dodge) finally hit some positions and did some things she’s been trying to do all year. That was a lifetime best and a big jump and breakthrough for her. Chase Armstrong had a great day. His 110 hurdles was solid, his 400 hurdles was a gutty race, and the way he finished the 4×400 – getting passed in the last 50 (meters) and taking him to the finish line – that was awesome to see.”
The Grizzlies swept the men’s and women’s competition in six events, but most impressive might have been the javelin.
Smith is now three for three this season, winning all three outdoor meets. Saturday was her best, though, posting a top mark of 149-7.25. On the men’s side, Lillquist was once again at the top. Lillquist missed the 2017 season but has returned to form early in 2018, winning his second event and posting a season-best 214-6. Montana took places one through five on the women’s side and four of the top-five marks on the men’s side.
Following Smith was Darby Henthorn (43.24; second), Kimberly Earhart (40.85; third), Maddie Foulk (39.75; fourth) and Natalie Peterson (37.64; fifth). Luke Hilmes placed third for the men (58.79), John Beckers was fourth (56.08) and Will Jones placed fifth (50.49).
“Our throwers are locked in right now,” Schweyen said. “We had a few lifetime bests in the javelin and a couple are moving up and starting to look at regionals with where they’re at.”
Depth wasn’t only seen in the javelin, but in many events throughout the day.
The Grizzlies went 1-2-3 in the men’s 400 meters. Following Henry’s 50.22 were Colton Hess (PR 50.64; second) and Will Jones (PR 51.87; third). In the men’s 800 meters, The Grizzlies had five of the top seven spots, and three of the top four in the men’s shot put.
On the women’s side, Montana placed 1-2 in both the 400 meters and 800 meters. Harvey also placed fourth in the women’s discus (131-11), as the Grizzlies occupied the 1-4 spots in the standings. Houston won the event, to go along with a third-place finish in the shot put (37-9.25), while Kayla Homes placed third (138-8). Montana athletes also placed 1-2-3 in the women’s triple jump and 1-2 in the high jump.
The Grizzlies will have a busy upcoming week, sending athletes to meets in Azusa, Calif., Walnut, Calif. and Helena, Mont.
“We just need more days like this, where we can get outside and train hard,” Schweyen said. “It’s hard to believe, but the season’s coming to an end soon, so we need to get rolling, and I think today was the beginning of doing that.”