(Editor’s note: University of Montana athletics release)
AZUSA, Calif. – Through the first three weeks of the outdoor track & field season, Carly Smiedala was held out of the 800 meters and instead focused on the 400 meters. The standout sophomore had plenty of success, winning the race both times she competed in it.
Finally on Friday, Smiedala competed in her primary event – the 800 meters – and she did not disappoint. Smiedala smashed Montana’s school record with a time of 2:06.22, nearly 2 full seconds better than Michelle Barrier’s mark of 2:07.94, which she held for 31 years.
Smiedala is now Montana’s record holder in the 800 meters for both outdoor and indoor. She set the indoor record at the 2018 Big Sky Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships on her way to a runner-up finish. Smiedala’s previous outdoor best was 2:08.89, which she set during her freshman campaign that included a third-place finish at conference and an NCAA Regionals qualification.
Smiedala highlighted the day, but it was far from Montana’s only highlight. The Grizzlies competed far and wide on Friday, with athletes in both California and Montana. They represented well against some of the nation’s top completion, ranking among the leaders in multiple events.
Once again, Montana proved to be one of the top teams in the country in the javelin, led by junior Jensen Lillquist, who won the men’s competition with a top mark of 210-4. Lillquist ranked second after the first round before throwing his top mark on his second attempt and leading from that point forward.
Fellow junior Luke Hilmes placed third out of 31 competitors (187-4), while sophomore Brady Coffman was 13th (166-8).
The Grizzlies were equally as successful on the women’s side. Against the stiffest competition thus far this spring, sophomore Zena Smith placed third out of 52 athletes with a top mark of 145-4. She was the leader after her first throw and stayed in the top three the entire event.
Maddie Foulk was ninth (135-6) and Darby Henthorn placed 23rd (111-6).
Lillquist and Smith have both placed in the top three in all four meets this season, winning their respective events three times.
In addition to Smiedala, teammates Emily Cheroske (2:10.62; 30th out of 157) and Madeline Hamilton (PR 2:12.79; 53rd) were also among the leaders in the women’s 800 meters. Holly Houston placed fifth out of 63 throwers in the women’s discus, throwing a lifetime-best 159-7. Teammate Kayla Homes was also among the top throwers, reaching 124-10 and placing 26th. Brent Yeakey placed 11th out of 52 in the men’s shot put (PR 53-0.25) while also finishing in the upper half of the men’s discus (138-6).
Montana’s athletes placed in the top third of the deep field several additional times, including in the 800 meters (Jacob Lamb, 152.22, 40th out of 150; Karsten Pease, 152.25, 41st) and pole vault (Charlie Bush, 15-2.75, 17th out of 57). Additionally, Chase Armstrong placed 23rd out of 59 runners in the 110-meter hurdles (15.19), Jonathan Eastwood was 111th out of 316 in the 1,500 meters (3:50.19), Hamilton placed 127 out of 336 in the women’s 1,500 meters (4:36.57), and Abby Dodge reached 5-3.75 in the high jump (26th out of 61).
While the main competition Friday was in California, a handful of Grizzlies spent their day in Helena, Mont., competing in the Trudnowski Open on the campus of Carroll.
Kimberly Earhart (132-6 in the javelin), Colton Hess (50.66 in the 400 meters), Noah Kells (4:07.80 in the 1,500 meters) and Rachel Lewis (35-5.75 in the triple jump) each won events, with Kells also placing second in the 800 meters (2:00.50). Rhett Streeter also had a strong day, placing third in the 100 meters (11.07) and fifth in the 200 meters (22.92). Senior Alanna Vann finished second in both the 100 meters (12.38) and 200 meters (25.39), while Mariah Harvey placed third in the women’s hammer (157-10) and Natalie Peterson was fourth in the javelin (109-10).
Montana will host two more meets (April 28 and May 4) before traveling to Moscow, Idaho, for the 2018 Big Sky Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships (May 8-11).