MISSOULA – The University of Montana will send a Grizzly to the NCAA National Track and Field Championships for the first time since 2015. Hana Feilzer has been building toward this moment for a long time in Missoula. Now she gets to go out on top.
As soon as her last hammer throw hit the ground at the NCAA West Regional Meet, Feilzer became a nervous wreck.
“I was just pacing back and forth,” said Feilzer, who was the first thrower of the final flight in Sacramento. “I could see my dad pacing back and forth. And I turned and looked at my dad and he just throws a big fist pump in the air. And just all of the emotions hit. I started tearing up. I was so happy. I did it.”
Feilzer’s best toss of the day put her in ninth place, clinching a spot in nationals. Now, the Missoula native will compete with the best in the country in an event that five years ago she never wanted to try.
“I had known that it had messed up people’s backs and their shoulders, and I just didn’t want to deal with that,” said Feilzer, who did herself deal with back spasms earlier this school year. “And I was like, I don’t want to throw weight. Ended up (Griz head coach) Brian (Schweyen) convinced me to try it. My freshman year made it to conference in hammer and ended up taking ninth at (the Big Sky Championships). And it was like, ‘Hey! I’m actually pretty good at this. Maybe I should work a little bit harder at this.'”
The next year, Feilzer improved so much she broke the school record. Then she went over 10 feet further as a junior in 2017, winning a Big Sky title. After redshirting in 2018, Feilzer again captured a conference title this season on her home track, re-breaking her school record with a throw of nearly 210 feet.
In high school at Missoula Big Sky, Feilzer competed in nearly everything possible. And Feilzer feels that background has led to her success.
“I honestly think it’s because of my athletic ability,” said the high school standout in shot put, high jump, discus and javelin. “I mean, I did volleyball, basketball and track in high school. I’ve grown up with quick feet and doing all of that stuff, and that’s something you need in the hammer ring.”
Feilzer doesn’t know what the future holds. She’s living in the moment. A moment she still can’t believe.
“For my dream to go to Nationals to finally be a reality, it’s amazing.”
The Grizzly senior ranks 17th going into nationals. The top 16 become all-Americans. She’ll compete in Austin, Texas at 3:30 PM Mountain Time on Thursday.