(Editor’s note: Story by Montana Sports Information)
MISSOULA – Unfortunately for Montana track star Erika McLeod, her first trip to nationals ended before it began. The pentathlete, ranked No. 11 in the entire nation, had to pull out of this week’s NCAA Championships after a recent MRI revealed a calf strain.
McLeod initially injured her calf during the Big Sky Championships, forcing her to miss the finals of the 200 meters and 60-meter hurdles, as well as the 4×400 relay. Despite missing those events, the Butte, Mont., native was still named the meet’s Outstanding Performer.
She caught everyone’s attention on the opening day of the meet when she not only won the pentathlon for the third time in her career, but did so in record-breaking fashion. Her score of 4,128 was a school, Championship and Big Sky Conference record and earned her an invitation to the NCAA Championships.
McLeod wasn’t alone in the event either. Sophomore Jansen Ziola finished second, and her score of 3,925 would have won the event nearly any other season. McLeod currently ranks 11th in the entire nation in the pentathlon, Ziola is 22nd. Montana is one of just three schools in all of Division I to have two athletes ranked that high – Georgia, the defending national champions, and Iowa of the Big Ten are the other two.
While McLeod’s indoor season came to an unfortunate and unexpected end, the redshirt senior still has the upcoming outdoor season, where she expects to again be among the top athletes in the Big Sky Conference. Over her past two outdoor seasons, McLeod has scored six times, including winning the 2016 heptathlon title.
The 2019 outdoor season begins March 29-30 with a home meet. The Grizzlies will also host the Montana Open (April 14) and the Big Sky Championships (May 8-11).