(Editor’s note: Story by Griz Communication)
MOSCOW, Idaho – Head coach Brian Schweyen knew there was potential from the throws group. After all, he was returning multiple scorers, including Shawn Humphries – who placed fifth in the weight throw at last year’s indoor championships – and Hana Feilzer on the women’s side, a former conference champ and school-record-holder.
It’s safe to say, though, that this group may be exceeding expectations so far in 2019, which is helping pace an entire team of overachievers.
With several true freshmen and redshirts who didn’t compete a year ago, outside expectations for the Montana track & field program were low entering the indoor season. Time will tell where the Grizzlies will end up in late February, but the veteran coach likes what he’s seen from his team from early results.
“Our athletes aren’t shying away from competition or bigger stages,” Schweyen said. “We continue to see lifetime bests, and we’re also seeing some people overcome some mental confidence issues and show improvement. There are a lot of encouraging things happening.”
When asked specifically, he singled out the throwers, noting that the entire group is consistent and right where they need to be.
Three weeks ago in Bozeman, at the MSU Open, Montana’s women were dominant in the weight throw, taking the first four spots and five of the top six against fellow Montana schools. In the women’s shot put, Montana earned four of the top five spots, led by Ariel Clark’s top mark of 40-11.75.
On the men’s side, Montana won both throwing events, with Shawn Humphries placing first in the weight throw (55-5.75) and Brent Yeakey winning the shot put (55-2.25).
It was a good starting point, but many of those marks have since been abolished by new PRs.
Overall, Feilzer – with a new school record – ranks first in the Big Sky in the weight throw. Teammate Kayla Holmes ranks eighth. Brent Yeakey ranks fifth in the shot put (55-2.25), pacing a Montana trio all ranked in the top 12 – the only school to do so. Humphries is in the top 12 of both the shot put and weight throw – including fourth in the weight throw (59-9.75) – while freshman Noah Ramirez is among the conference leaders in the shot (51-2.75).
It’s not just Montana’s throwers, however. Junior Jane Booth, coming off of a jump off against a Stanford athlete at last week’s UW Invitational, has the best high-jump mark in the Big Sky (5-8.5). Her men’s counterpart, Matt Quist, ranks second (6-10.75).
“Jane really overcame some things she’s been battling and had an incredible meet,” Schweyen said. “She got in a jump off, which is probably the best thing that could have happened to her because she got a bunch of extra jumps at a level where they meant something. It’s about as good of high-quality practice as you could ask for, and she handled herself really well.”
Carly Smiedala made her season debut in the 800 meters last week. The event record holder for both indoor and outdoor finished with a time of 2:11.28, a good starting point and currently ranked second in the Big Sky.
It’s easy to see why Jansen Ziola won the pentathlon as a freshman in 2018. She ranks in the top 10 in the Big Sky in four different events, including a league-best 8.75 in the 60-meter hurdles. Teammate Erika McLeod, who also has an individual title in the pentathlon, is currently in first in that event.
The indoor track & field season is unique in the sense that the team is less than three weeks from the start of the Big Sky Championships, yet the season has barely been running for three weeks, with most athletes competing in their first meet of 2019 on Jan. 11.
Schweyen said there will be a taper period, but the Griz aren’t at that point quite yet.
“We can still get some conditioning and still get some speed work,” Schweyen said. “We’re not there yet.”
Friday’s D1 Invitational Team meet will feature athletes from Eastern Washington, Gonzaga, Portland State, Washington State and host Idaho. Action begins at 11 a.m. MT inside the Kibbie Dome, followed by running events at noon.
The venue offers a larger track than Montana generally runs on – a bonus in most athlete’s minds – but Schweyen said the focus won’t change, staying with the same mantra he’s been preaching all winter.
“Every day is important, every meet is important, and no day or meet is more important than the other,” he said. “It’s time to compete every day.”
Competing for Montana will be…
60 meters – Kip Krebsbach, Alex Mustard
200 meters – Chase Armstrong, Jaydon Green, Paul Johnstone, Kip Krebsbach, Callum Macnab, Xavier Melice, Alex Mustard, Sterling Reneau
400 meters – Paul Johnstone, Xavier Melice, Sterling Reneau
800 meters – Noah Adams, William Dauenauer, Noah Kells, Karsten Pease
1 mile – Noah Adams, William Dauenauer
3,000 meters – Kyle Kredo, Ben Vanderbosch
60-meter hurdles – Chase Armstrong, Aidan Diggs, Jaydon Green, Callum Macnab, Josh Riley
4×400 relay – Paul Johnstone, Callum Macnab, Sterling Reneau, Xavier Melice
High jump – Aidan Diggs, Matt Quist, Josh Riley, Brendan Thurber-Blaser, Josh Riley
Long jump – Aidan Diggs, Jacob Price, Josh Riley, Jordan Stow
Triple jump – Jacob Price
Shot put –Oliver Grajeda, Shawn Humphries, Noah Ramirez, Brendan Thurber-Blaser, Brent Yeakey
Weight throw: Oliver Grajeda, Shawn Humphries, Noah Ramirez
60 meters – Hannah Coburn, Hannah Kearns
200 meters – Olivia Ellis, Jaree Mane, Erika McLeod, Morgan Sulser
400 meters – Olivia Ellis
800 meters – Megan Franz, Madeline Hamilton, Mijah McLeod, Erica Simison, Carly Smiedala
1 mile – Jessica Bailey, Samantha Engebretsen, Megan Franz, Madeline Hamilton, Erica Simison
3,000 meters – Jessica Bailey, Samantha Engebretsen
60-meter hurdles – Hannah Coburn, Jaree Mane, Erika McLeod, Morgan Sulser, Jansen Ziola
4×400 relay – Carly Smiedala, Jansen Ziola, Olivia Ellis, Erika McLeod
High jump – Jane Booth, Abby Dodge, Morgan Radtke, Jansen Ziola
Pole vault – Kahsiah Benson, Carrie Jacka, Grace Slevin
Long jump – Hannah Coburn, Hannah Kearns, Erika McLeod, Jansen Ziola
Triple jump – Rachel Lewis, Carla Nicosia, Morgan Radtke
Shot put – Mariah Harvey, Holly Houston, Jaree Mane, Erika McLeod
Weight throw – Hana Feilzer, Mariah Harvey, Kayla Holmes, Holly Houston