(Story by Griz Communications)
MISSOULA – What a difference having a full roster makes. Montana opened the 2019 outdoor track & field season on Saturday with strong performances across the board. The Grizzlies hosted fellow Big Sky foes Eastern Washington, Idaho and Montana State in the Al Manual Northwest Challenge, coming away with dominant results.
The Grizzlies won 22 of 37 events overall and had at least one athlete finish in the top three in all but one event.
Of the 33 individual events Montana competed in, less than half of the Grizzlies’ top performers (15) competed for the team a year ago. Seven were still in high school. Ten were redshirting – with the coaching staff intentionally holding several athletes back for a potentially strong spring in 2019, capped with the outdoor championships in Missoula. Yet another top performer on Saturday, Maryn Lowry, was competing 1,300 miles east of Missoula in Ames, Iowa.
Lowry is a graduate transfer to Montana after beginning her collegiate career at Iowa State. Lowry used all four years of her indoor eligibility, scoring for the Cyclones at the Big 12 Championships in the 800 meters, but, after graduating from Iowa State, transferred to Montana to pursue her master’s degree.
“She’s someone we need on this team and someone who will be a huge asset for us,” head coach Brian Schweyen said of Lowry.
One of Lowry’s coaches at Iowa State, Andrea Grove-McDonough, is a former Missoula resident who ran with Montana assistant coach Vicky Pounds for the Mountain West Track Club in Missoula, in addition to a short stint on the Griz coaching staff. She recommended for Lowry to check out Montana, which led her to Saturday.
Making her Griz debut, and competing in her first official meet since February 2017, Lowry was one of several athletes who shined for the Grizzlies.
Lowry won the women’s 1,500 meters with a time of 4:34.73 – the best on the day by nearly 5 full seconds and better than any UM athlete ran it in all of 2018. She followed up her 1,500 win with a second-place finish in the 800 meters (2:14.87), nearly closing in on teammate Madeline Hamilton down the stretch.
“Maryn is a veteran, and therefore she brings a lot to this group,” Schweyen said. “This is her second program she’s been part of and she’s been in big meets in a big conference. She has the mentality that every coach wants to see.”
The season is just beginning, but Schweyen was impressed by his athletes’ performances on Saturday, especially considering how little Montana was able to compete outside leading up to this weekend due to a snowy March. The team was able to get on the track for the first time last week, while the field athletes weren’t able to work outside until this week.
“There were a lot of great performances, and a lot of young kids who did fantastic,” Schweyen said. “That’s really exciting to see as a coach.”
Montana kicked off the meet on Friday afternoon with the Grizzlies winning both the women’s and men’s hammer throw. Hana Feilzer, the 2017 women’s champion before redshirting in 2018, won the event with a mark of 190-7, in addition to winning the discus on Saturday afternoon (143-11). The Grizzlies were also dominant in the javelin, with Darby Henthorn, Zena Smith and Kimberly Earhart going 1-2-3 on the women’s side, and Jensen Lillquist – the 2018 Big Sky champion – winning on the men’s side by nearly 30 feet.
One of the freshmen who won an event was Peterson Bohannon, who sat out the indoor season with an injury. Making his collegiate debut, he ran a lifetime best 49.81 in the 400 meters.
“This is just the start,” Schweyen said. “No matter where you’re at, this is the start, and we need to move from here. Hard work is just beginning, and it needs to continue.”
Below is a complete look at Montana’s highlights from the Al Manuel Northwest Challenge:
Women’s hammer throw – Senior Hana Feilzer made her return to competition with authority in the winter, setting a school record in the weight throw and winning the event at the indoor championships. She’s arguably even better at the outdoor version, the hammer throw, however, and she proved that on Friday with a top result in the event (190-7). Feilzer also holds Montana’s school record in the hammer throw, qualifying for regionals twice and winning the event at the 2017 outdoor championships, before redshirting in 2018.
Women’s javelin – One of Montana’s strongest events in 2018, the Grizzlies carried over that trend into 2019, sweeping the event. Darby Henthorn had a PR with a top throw of 149-6 to win the event. She was joined at the podium by teammates Zena Smith (149-1) and Kimberly Earhart (PR 148-7).
Freshman Kendra Bottenberg had a strong debut meet, throwing 133-0 (sixth out of 18 throwers).
Men’s javelin – A year after winning the event at the outdoor championships, Jensen Lillquist showed he is looking to defend his crown, and win the event for the third time in his career. The senior blew away the competition on Saturday with a top throw of 210-4, nearly 30 feet better than the next-closest competitor, despite feeling under the weather. Dylan Kipp, a transfer from Ashland University, made his Griz debut with a third-place finish (187-0). Brendan Thurber-Blaser (173-7) placed fifth and Nathan Graves (165-2) was seventh.
Women’s shot put – Montana had two throwers advance to the shot put finals, led by Kayla Holmes’ 41-1.75 (third). Holly Houston finished sixth with a top throw of 39-5. Montana also had four throwers make their shot put debuts on Saturday.
Men’s long jump – Freshman Aidan Diggs was Montana’s top performer in the long jump, reaching 21-6.75 in his debut outdoor meet (third).
Women’s long jump – In addition to winning the 100-meter hurdles, Jansen Ziola was Montana’s top finisher in the long jump, reaching 17-9.5 (third).
Men’s high jump – Montana took three of the top-four spots, led by Matt Quist, who cleared 6-8.75. The mark was 4 inches better than the next-closest competitor. Quist is a two-time NCAA Regionals qualifier, finishing runner-up at the 2016 and 2017 Big Sky Championships, before redshirting in 2018.
Men’s shot put – Montana took three of the top-four spots in the men’s shot put, led by Brent Yeakey (51-1, second). As a freshman in 2018, Yeakey placed fourth at the outdoor championships.
Women’s high jump – Junior Jane Booth won the women’s high jump with relative ease, clearing 5-5.75 and winning by four inches. Booth won the event three times in 2018 while qualifying for NCAA Regionals.
Women’s discus – To go along with her win in the hammer throw, Hana Feilzer also won the discus with a top throw of 143-11. Montana was well represented in the event, with Holly Houston placing third (139-6), Kayla Holmes finishing fourth (137-1), Brooke Kearns placing sixth (134-3) and Mariah Harvey taking eighth (129-11).
Men’s triple jump – Freshman Paul Johnstone was Montana’s top performer in the men’s triple jump, placing third with a top mark of 44-7.
Women’s triple jump – Rachel Lewis was Montana’s top performer, finishing second out of three jumpers (36-0).
Men’s discus – To go along with his second-place finish in the shot put, Brent Yeakey also had a solid day in the discus, placing second with a strong throw of 165-10 (PR). Five other Grizzlies competed in the event, including Noah Ramirez (PR 142-1) – one of four who did not compete a year ago.
Women’s 400-meter relay – With just two teams competing, Montana beat Eastern Washington in the 4×100 relay with a time of 48.40.
Men’s 400-meter relay – Montana went 1-2 in the three-team 4×100 relay race, but the winning squad came as a bit of a surprise. Made up of Kip Krebsbach, Sterling Reneau, Callum Macnab and Alex Mustard, Montana’s B team beat out the A team with a time of 41.66.
Women’s 1,500 meters – Making her Griz debut, Iowa State graduate transfer Maryn Lowry showed the value she can bring to Montana’s squad with a winning time of 4:34.73 in the women’s 1,500 meters. She led from start to finish, winning by nearly 5 full seconds. The time is better than any UM athlete from 2018.
Sophomore Madeline Hamilton (4:49.73) and freshman Erica Simison (4:54.62) finished third and fourth, respectively. Two other freshmen – Lyric Devries (5:04.49) and Chloe Cosgrove (5:07.72) also ran their first outdoor race.
Women’s 100-meter hurdles – Montana went 1-2-3, with Jansen Ziola winning the event with a time of 14.42. Morgan Sulser placed second (14.58), followed by Olivia Ellis (PR 14.71). None of the three competed during the 2018 outdoor season.
Men’s 110-meter hurdles – Montana had three of the top-four finishers in the 110-meter hurdles, led by junior Chase Armstrong (15.16, second). Freshman Jaydon Green was third (15.93) and fellow freshman Brendan Thompson was fourth (16.41).
Women’s 400 meters – Mattison McAnally beat Montana’s State’s Annalise Lont – the only two runners in the women’s 400 meters – with a time of 1:01.79.
Men’s 400 meters – Freshman Peterson Bohannon placed first with a time of 49.81, a best by more than a full second and the fastest race he’s ever run. The Washington native was coming off of an injury and a redshirt season. Fellow freshman Mitchell Ward was third (51.14).
Men’s 100 meters – Of the seven runners, Montana went 1-2 in the men’s 100 meters with Alex Mustard winning (10.87) and Kip Krebsbach placing second (10.95). A year ago, Mustard was redshirting and Krebsbach was still in high school.
Women’s 800 meters – Even without school-record-holder Carly Smiedala competing, Montana was still dominant in the 800 meters, taking the top four places. Madeline Hamilton won the event (2:14.59), narrowly holding off teammate Maryn Lowry (2:14.87). Megan Franz was third (2:16.33), followed by Mijah McLeod (2:19.90).
Men’s 800 meters – After leading for the majority of the race, Karsten Pease placed second in the 800 meters (1:56.37), leading a group of five Grizzlies in the top seven. Three of the Grizzlies had never before competed in the event.
Women’s 400-meter hurdles – In addition to her PR in the 100-meter hurdles, Olivia Ellis won the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:02.29.
Men’s 400-meter hurdles – Montana had four of the six competitors, going 1-2 in the event with Callum Macnab (54.41) and Chase Armstrong (57.30) leading the group. Macnab – who redshirted in 2018 – posted a time better than any Grizzly in 2018.
Women’s 200 meters – Competing in her first outdoor meet, Emma Normand placed highly in three events on the day, including Montana’s top performer in the 200 meters. She placed third out of 12 runners with a time of 27.42.
Men’s 200 meters – Freshman Xavier Melice won the 200 meters with a time of 21.94. Overall, Montana had seven competitors, with five of them being freshmen and the other two redshirting in 2018.
Women’s 5,000 meters – Montana was the only team to run in the women’s 5,000 meters, with Samantha Engebretsen (18:15.66) leading the five finishers.
Men’s 1,600-meter relay – Montana took three of the top-four spots to sweep all four relay races. In the men’s 4×400 race, the Grizzlies’ ‘A’ team of Paul Johnstone, Callum Macnab, Sterling Reneau and Xavier Melice won by more than 5 seconds, with Reneau creating separation from a tight race and Melice finishing it off.