(Editor's note: MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS – Introducing his first two recruits for the 2022-23 academic year, Montana State University Billings baseball head coach Derek Waddoups welcomed Billings player Lance Schaaf and Keegan Weston of Walla Walla, Wash.
Schaaf is a two-time all-state pitcher and outfielder for the Billings Royals, with his final prep season still ahead of him next summer. Schaaf was the MVP of the state tournament, was a two-time all-conference selection, and was a member of the honor roll at Skyview High School. His personal bests include a 14-strikeout performance during his junior year against Bozeman. “Lance is a local Billings product that really excites us with his ability to command three pitches and compete in the bottom of the zone,” said Waddoups. “He has a plus breaking ball and really knows how to pitch. He had an outstanding summer for the Billings Royals and we look forward to his continued dominance here at MSUB.”
“I am choosing MSUB to become a better person and athlete, and to obtain a college degree,” said Schaaf.
With his senior year at Walla Walla High School ahead of him, Weston has earned three letters on the diamond playing as a catcher. He was the Blue Devils team captain last spring and is a three-time scholar athlete as well. Among his personal best games was a four-hit performance with six RBIs during his junior year in the spring of 2021. “Keegan is a physical, quick-twitch athlete,” said Waddoups. “He is a grinder and is hard-nosed, which excites us to have behind the plate. He is academically advanced and we are blessed as an institution to have the programs in place to get a person and student the caliber of Keegan. He will impact the offense with his ability to impact the baseball and consistently put the ball in play. We look forward to having his grit and resilience in the program.”
“I chose MSUB because I feel like I am joining more than just a team or a school – I am joining a family and a winning culture,” said Weston, who intends to study health and human performance. “I want to be part of a team that works hard together to pursue a goal. I am very impressed with the coaching staff and strong leadership showcased. I'm looking for a place to grow academically, in leadership, and in my abilities on the field. I believe MSUB is the place that can make that happen.”
Schaaf and Weston are the first two signings for the Yellowjackets in advance of the 2023 spring season. MSUB’s baseball team kicks off the 2022 campaign on Feb. 4-6 at Cal State Los Angeles.
MSUB's women’s triathlon team got its first commitment of the 2022 class, as Post Falls, Idaho native Alahna Lien signed her letter of intent.
“I have had the dream of competing in collegiate triathlons since eighth grade and am excited for the chance to make that dream a reality,” Lien said. “MSUB will give me the best opportunity to compete and complete a nursing degree.”
Coming to MSUB from Post Falls High School’s powerhouse girls distance running program, Lien expects to focus on racing triathlons, plus running in some track meets and cross country meets that don’t interfere with the fall triathlon schedule. In addition to her four years of varsity cross country and track experience, Lien has competed for the Coeur d’Alene Club Swim Team for the past nine years.
“I had the pleasure of joining Alahna’s parents in cheering her on to victory at last summer’s Big Sky State Games Triathlon,” MSUB head triathlon coach Kevin Bjerke said. “She is a solid open water swimmer and will add some extensive overall swimming experience to our team by virtue of her nine years of club swimming. Alahna is also an excellent runner and a key contributor to her historically strong cross country team. She has an outstanding work ethic and attitude and is very motivated to leave her mark on collegiate triathlon. I am excited to get to work with her.”
Although triathlon is not a high school-sanctioned sport in Idaho, Lien has competed in triathlons when she is not racing for the Trojans’ cross country or track seasons. After getting seriously invested in the sport as an eighth grader, Lien rose up the national rankings and was ranked as high as 52nd for her age group in 2019. Most recently, Lien was the second female finisher at the 2021 Post Falls Triathlon. She also has experience racing in Billings; Lien has been the top finisher in her age group at the Big Sky State Games for the past two years.
A four-year varsity runner on Post Falls’ girls cross country team, Lien has helped the Trojans qualify for the IHSAA 5A State Cross Country Championships in all four years, and was Post Falls’ third runner (20th overall) in the team’s runner-up finish at the 2020 state race. Lien’s 19:02 5K at the 2021 Inland Empire Challenge ranks fifth all-time in program history.
In track, Lien goes into her senior season with personal bests of 5:34.50 in the 1600 meters, 11:55.00 in the 3200 meters and 2:39.24 in the 800 meters; her 3200 meter time ranks seventh in school history. As a junior, Lien qualified individually for the 3200 meters and led off on Post Falls’ 4x800 meter relay team that took eighth at the 2021 IHSAA Track and Field Championships.
Lien is expected to bolster a MSUB women’s triathlon team that had its first full, four-athlete scoring result in program history this past season, plus had its first NCAA national qualifier in Madisan Chavez.