(Editor’s note: story by Montana Sports Information)
MISSOULA – Following Thursday’s historic day in the multis, Montana had another strong showing on Friday, the third day of the Big Sky Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Among the eight field events, Montana scored in six of them.
Additionally, the Grizzlies had 10 athletes advance to Saturday’s running finals, including freshman Xavier Melice, who will run in both the 200 meters and 400 meters.
“It was another great day,” head coach Brian Schweyen said. “We started the meet on a big note, and it carried over today for sure. We had a lot of positives and a lot of things to be encouraged by.”
Leading the Grizzlies on Friday was junior Matt Quist, who finished second in the high jump for the third year in a row. He scored eight points for Montana and reached the podium once again. Also finding the podium was redshirt freshman Jansen Ziola, who yesterday scored in the heptathlon. Ziola was one of two-point scorers in the long jump for Montana. Montana also had two scorers in the women’s shot put.
Darby Henthorn (fourth in the javelin), Kayla Holmes (sixth in the shot put), Shawn Humphries (fifth in the hammer throw), Brent Yeakey (fifth in the discus), Mariah Harvey (eighth in the shot put) and Erika McLeod (eighth in the long jump) also scored.
Entering the final day of the meet, both Montana’s men and women are in the top three in the standings, and Schweyen is optimistic about his teams’ potential on the final day.
“We start tomorrow with one of our top events, and I don’t think you could have a better starter for us than Hana (Feilzer in the hammer throw),” Schweyen said. “I think we have a lot of points sitting there waiting for us, and we’re excited about going and getting them.”
Below is a look at Montana’s complete event-by-event performances from Friday:
Men’s high jump: Matt Quist is the definition of consistency, placing second in the high jump for the third year in a row. The senior scored eight points for the Griz, clearing 6-8.25.
“Matt is talented, and people don’t get to see how strong he is and how hard of a worker he is,” Schweyen said. “It’s rare to have someone consistent enough to do what he has three times now.”
Women’s pole vault: Montana was led by Kahsiah Benson, who tied a career best by clearing 11-10.75. She finished 11th, while teammates Grace Slevin (12th) and Chloe Seferos reached (16th) reached 11-5.
Women’s long jump: Just like on Thursday in the heptathlon, Jansen Ziola and Erika McLeod once again scored for the Grizzlies on Friday, this time in the long jump. Ziola, a redshirt freshman, had a top jump of 19-9.5 to reach the podium in third place for the first time as an outdoor athlete (she has also finished first and second in the pentathlon during indoor). The mark was a PR by nearly a foot. McLeod jumped 18-10.75 to finish eighth and score for the 16th time in her career. Sophomore Hannah Kearns had a season-best jump of 18-4.5 (13th).
“I’m so happy for Jansen,” Schweyen said. “She had the fans screaming for her, and I think that was what gave her the adrenaline to go out and have some really great jumps.”
Men’s long jump: Freshman Jethro Thorne narrowly missed scoring, placing ninth with a best jump of 22-8. He was followed by teammates Paul Johnstone (22-3.75, 13th) and Josh Riley (21-5.25, 18th).
Women’s shot put: Montana was one of just two schools to have multiple scorers in the shot put. Both Kayla Holmes (45-1, sixth) and Mariah Harvey (44-2.5, eight) had lifetime bests in the event. Holly Houston placed 12th with a top throw of 42-8.75.
Men’s discus: Brent Yeakey scored for the second year in a row, as the sophomore placed fifth with a top distance of 169-6. His final two attempts were better than any previous throw in his career. A year ago, as a freshman, he placed eighth in the event. Yeakey on Saturday will compete in the shot put, an event he placed fifth in at the 2018 Championships and is currently seeded second.
Men’s hammer throw: Shawn Humphries scored in the hammer throw for the second consecutive season, finishing fifth. A year ago, Humphries placed sixth, but the biggest difference from his sophomore to junior season was the distance. In 2018, Humphries had a top mark of 177-5. His progression a year later grew to 189-10.
“David Paul has done an incredible job with the majority of that group,” Schweyen said, referencing his assistant coach and his work with the team’s throwers, who had five athletes score 17 total points on Friday. “They work hard, they’re gritty and they want to be good.”
Women’s javelin: Darby Henthorn had a lifetime-best performance in the javelin, earning a fourth-place finish in the event (150-10). She was sitting as a borderline scorer through four throws, fluctuating between 128 and 137 feet, before a throw of 144-5 on her fifth attempt and the PR on her final throw. Zena Smith, who competed at NCAA Regionals a year ago as a sophomore, narrowly missed scoring (139-4, ninth). Kimberly Earhart had a top throw of 133-8 (14th).
Men’s 100 meters: Alex Mustard advanced to the finals of the 100 meters after the senior ran a season-best time of 10.61 to place fifth. Freshman Kip Krebsbach was 11th, finishing in 10.76.
Men’s 200 meters: Xavier Melice qualified for his first of two finals, advancing in the 200 meters with a time of 21.28 (third). Cade Johnstone missed a scoring chance by three-hundredths of a second, finishing ninth at 21.59. Paul Johnstone finished in a time of 21.79 (14th). All three runners are freshmen.
Men’s 400 meters: Freshmen Xavier Melice (48.11, fifth) and Paul Johnstone (48.14, seventh) both qualified for Saturday’s finals in the 400 meters. Both times were collegiate bests, including Melice by nearly 1.5 seconds. Freshman Cade Johnstone (PR 48.57, 13th) and Sterling Reneau (48.70, 14th) also competed for the Grizzlies.
“Xavier is very talented, and we’re fortunate to have him,” Schweyen said. “Paul (Reneau) has done a great job with all of those young sprinters. I had a conversation with Xavier back in the fall and told him I thought he was capable of big things. He competed today and showed that.”
Women’s 800 meters: Carly Smiedala (2:11.35) and Megan Franz (2:13.43) will have the opportunity to put points on the board on Saturday, with both finishing in the top five of the 800-meter prelims. Both athletes have scored in the running event previously, with Smiedala holding Montana’s school record and winning the title in 2018. Sophomore Madeline Hamilton placed 14th with a time of 2:18.85.
Men’s 800 meters: Junior Noah Adams had a nice run in the prelims of the 800 meters, finishing one-hundredths of a second behind Jenner Higgins in his heat with a PR of more than 2 seconds (1:52.16). He placed seventh overall to advance to the finals. Noah Kells placed 14th (1:53.91) and Karsten Pease finished 21st (1:56.54).
Women’s 1,500 meters: Competing at her first outdoor Championships, senior grad transfer Maryn Lowry will be the No. 2 seed going into Saturday’s final, running a 4:35.30 and coming within two-hundredths of a second of first place. Easily qualifying for the finals, there was no need to push it, and she will have a great opportunity to score a high number of points on Saturday.
Men’s 1,500 meters: Competing at his first outdoor Championships, Andrea Baratte ran an adjusted time of 3:57.78 in the 1,500 meters, a PR of more than 4 seconds. He placed 21st overall.
Women’s 10,000 meters: Junior Samantha Engebretsen finished the 25-lap race in a time of 38:03.44, placing ninth.
Women’s 100-meter hurdles: Montana had a pair of qualifiers in the women’s 100-meter hurdles, with Jansen Ziola (14.03, third) and Morgan Sulser (14.17, sixth) advancing from the prelims. Both athletes were seeded in the top 12, but neither were expected to advance. Olivia Ellis was 14th at 14.50.
Men’s 110-meter hurdles: A trio of Grizzlies narrowly missed advancing to the finals of the 110-meter hurdles, with Jaydon Green (PR 14.91), Chase Armstrong (15.08) and Callum Macnab (15.14) finishing ninth through 11th. Aidan Diggs placed 14th (15.30).
Women’s 400-meter hurdles: Junior Olivia Ellis blew away the competition in her heat of the women’s 400-meter hurdles, winning by nearly 2 full seconds (1:00.32). Her season-best time earned her a second-place finish overall, advancing to Saturday’s finals.
Men’s 400-meter hurdles: Junior Callum Macnab advanced to the finals with a time of 53.64 (seventh). As a freshman in 2016, the hurdler finished fourth. Colton Hess ran a time of 54.85 (12th). Chase Armstrong ran it in 56.78 (15th).
Next up: Saturday will feature the final day of the Big Sky Championships, beginning at 9 a.m. with the women’s hammer throw, an event Montana is the heavy favorite in. Overall, 28 champions will be crowned on Saturday, in addition to the men’s and women’s team champs.
Montana is in a strong position on both sides. For the women, the Grizzlies open the day with the hammer throw, where Feilzer is expected to win. The Grizzlies also have high hopes in the discus, high jump and 4×400 relay, in addition to two finalists in the 800 meters and another in the 1,500 meters. On the men’s side, Montana is expected to earn points in the javelin, shot put, relays and several running events.
Montana’s point-scorers (women):
10, Erika McLeod, 1st, heptathlon
6, Jansen Ziola, 3rd, long jump
5, Darby Henthorn, 4th, javelin
3, Kayla Holmes, 6th, shot put
3, Jansen Ziola, 6th, heptathlon
2, Jaree Mane, 7th, heptathlon
1, Mariah Harvey, 8th, shot put
1, Erika McLeod, 8th, long jump
Montana’s point-scorers (men):
10, Brendan Thurber-Blaser, 1st, decathlon
8, Matt Quist, 2nd, high jump, second
6, Aidan Diggs, 3rd, decathlon
5, Josh Riley, 4th, decathlon
4, Shawn Humphries, 5th, hammer throw
4, Brent Yeakey, 5th, discus
Women’s team standings (through Friday):
1. Eastern Washington – 42
2. Idaho State – 37
3. Montana – 31
4. Sacramento State – 28
5. Idaho – 27
6. Northern Arizona – 27
7. Southern Utah – 25
Montana State – 25
9. Portland State – 16
10. Weber State – 9
11. Northern Colorado – 6
Men’s team standings (through Friday):
1. Northern Arizona – 50
2. Montana – 37
3. Southern Utah – 34.33
4. Idaho State – 28
5. Weber State – 27.33
6. Sacramento State – 27
7. Montana State – 26
8. Idaho – 21
9. Eastern Washington – 20
10. Portland State – 2.33
11. Northern Colorado – 0