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Aragon, Henderson, Morley pace Montana natives at Day 1 of NCAA West Regional

Posted at 10:45 PM, May 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-06 09:37:29-04

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Christina Aragon and Sadi Henderson will race for a spot in the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Makena Morley is already guaranteed a position at Track Town.

Morley, a sophomore from Bigfork who runs for the University of Colorado, earned a sixth-place finish in the women’s 10,000-meter run late Thursday evening. Morley, a former Montana Class B state champion, ran a 32:28.58 in the race, 14 seconds off the pace of winner Karissa Schweizer of Missouri.

Morley finished 17th in the event in last season’s NCAA Outdoor Championships.

Aragon, the former Billings Senior standout who set numerous Montana high school track and field records, advanced from the preliminaries in the 1,500-meter run at the NCAA West Regional on Thursday. The Stanford Cardinal sophomore ran a 4:23.01 in the third heat of the prelims, finishing second in the race. Her time sits 14th overall entering Saturday’s quarterfinals.

The top five athletes in Saturday’s quarterfinals, along with the next two fastest times, will advance to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore. The NCAA finals will be held June 6-9 at Hayward Field.

As a freshman last spring, Aragon qualified for the finals in the 1,500, competing against her older sister, Dani, who ran for Notre Dame. Christina placed seventh in the event to earn all-American status. Dani finished 12th.

Henderson, a redshirt junior from Corvallis, ran the second-fastest time in the 800-meter run, clocking a 2:06.19 in the opening heat of the 800. Henderson finished second in the race, five one-hundredths of a second behind UNLV freshman Avi’ Tal Wilson-Perteete.

Henderson captured second-team all-American status for the Broncos during the indoor track and field season, and earned the same last spring in the 800 during the outdoor schedule. Henderson placed 10th at the NCAA Outdoor Championships last June, while also re-writing the Broncos’ record books. Her 2:02.33 at the Portland Track Festival is a personal record, and she also boasts numerous Mountain West individual and medley relay championships.

Montana sophomore Carly Smiedala, a former Helena High standout, also competed in Thursday’s 800 prelims, but failed to advance. Smiedala clocked a 2:09.20, finishing just four places behind the final qualifier. The top three runners from each of the six heats, along with the next six fastest times advanced to the 800 finals.

In the men’s 800, former Billings Senior star and Montana all-class record holder Dawson LaRance competed for the University of Minnesota, but the freshman didn’t advance to Friday’s quarterfinals. LaRance ran a 1:51.96, placing sixth in the opening heat and 34th of the 48 runners.

Montana State senior Amanda Jaynes advanced in the 400 hurdles, boasting the ninth-fastest time in the prelims. Jaynes, who won a State AA championship in the 300 hurdles for Missoula Sentinel in 2014, ran a 58.33 Thursday. The 400-meter hurdle quarterfinals will be held Friday evening, with 12 athletes advancing to the NCAA Championships.

Jaynes also runs the 100 hurdles earlier in the evening on Friday.

Montana State saw numerous athletes compete Thursday, including senior throw Calvin Root, who placed 24th in the hammer throw with a toss of 202 feet, 4 inches. Carley VonHeeder and Tiffany Shearman participated in the women’s javelin, finishing 29th and 45th overall, respectively. VonHeeder threw 143-01, while Shearman marked a throw of 131 feet.

Montana’s Zena Smith, a sophomore from Corvallis, also threw the javelin Thursday, placing 16th with a throw of 159-08. Smith’s former Blue Devil teammate Jane Booth, also a sophomore for the Grizzlies, tied for 34th in the women’s high jump, clearing 5-07.

Juniors Alex Lewis and Kelsi Lasota also represented the Bobcats, with Lewis placing 33rd in the men’s long jump (23-08 3/4) and Lasota running the women’s 10,000-meter run, placing 22nd with a time of 33:47.95.