(Editor’s note: Story by Montana Sports Information)
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Jensen Lillquist’s illustrious career came to a close on Friday, with the senior javelin thrower placing 21st at the NCAA West Regional.
Lillquist had a decent day, throwing a top mark of 214-2, but once again came up painfully short in his quest to reach nationals. The four-time regionals qualifier needed to increase his throw by 7 feet to reach the top 12 and advance to Austin, Texas, next month.
Lillquist is fully capable of reaching that mark, doing so five times in the past two seasons including a lifetime-best throw of 232-6 at the Big Sky Championships earlier this month. That mark would have ranked fourth on Friday.
“There’s a pit in my stomach for Jensen,” head coach Brian Schweyen said. “In my extended years of coaching, it’s one of the most confident I’ve ever been going into a meet. He was prepared and ready to go, and had three throws in warmups that all would have been good enough to go to nationals.”
The heartbreak is a familiar scene for Lillquist, who twice previously placed 14th at regionals, missing out on nationals by as little as 2 feet.
Still, Lillquist will close his Grizzly career as one of the school’s top javelin throwers, winning a pair of Big Sky titles in the event and reaching the podium on four occasions. He qualified for regionals all four years of his career, the first male athlete to do so under Schweyen.
“I feel absolutely horrible for Jensen,” Schweyen said. “Everyone works hard, but Jensen is on another level with the amount of time and effort he puts in. I told him after the meet that this doesn’t change the fact that he’s an incredible person who has had an incredible career and will go on and do great things in his life.”
Montana’s sixth and final regionals participant, Brent Yeakey, will compete Saturday in the shot put, which is scheduled to begin at 3:45 p.m. MT.