CollegeMontana Grizzlies


With three Big Sky titles to her name, Montana's Erin Wilde aiming for new heights

Posted at 6:44 PM, May 21, 2024

MISSOULA — In just two years at the University of Montana, Whitefish native Erin Wilde is already putting together a decorated career that will be difficult to top.

The sophomore is already a three-time Big Sky Conference champion in the high jump for the Grizzlies, but had you told Wilde that two years ago this is how things would play out, ever the competitor, Wilde, just wants more.

"Jump higher," Wilde said thinking back to when she arrived at UM. "I was hard on myself in high school, a lot of the time with track it was a mental game. And I feel for a lot of people, they don't realize that. If you look at it, it's 80% mental. And the rest of it comes from skill I feel, especially in high jump, and I would definitely be proud of myself. But I don't want to stop, I want to keep going and pushing myself."

Wilde took home the outdoor Big Sky title for the second year in a row after winning it last year, and she also conquered the indoor feat back in February.

The indoor title was a key moment for Wilde, who last year struggled in indoor as a young freshman who had wide eyes. But for Wilde, there's one key element that has turned her into the three-time champ two years in.

"I think confidence is a lot during those meets, you can't walk up there and be nervous," Wilde said. "And I learned that my freshman year indoor, I learned that really strongly that you need to be confident you need to be there to have fun and you need to be there to be determined to win. And it's a track meet, you just have to do you and you'll have fun. No matter what, super grateful for all the experiences.

"I just think it's once you get used to it. And once you're confident in who you are at your event, it makes a huge difference. I remember outdoor last year, I was finally like, 'Erin you have to breathe.' (UM coach) Erica (Fraley) was like be yourself. I think I've mastered the mental part, which is a huge part in high jump, your thoughts can just weigh you down heavily. And when you don't think about the negative things, the positives, just keep blooming and keep sparking you to do better."

Along with her conference titles, Wilde also broke the school record at Montana for women's high jump, as she went 5 feet, 10 1/2 inches to break a mark that was 30 years old.

That came the week before conference, and with a target on her back, Wilde put the growth physically and mentally she'd learned in her time at Montana to use, to secure another championship to her name.

"I thought it was gonna take a couple of years," Wilde said about her growth. "I know a lot of people when they go into conference as a freshman, you're nervous, you've never been to a meet that up high. You're nervous, you're young, I'm smaller than a lot of the girls, you just got to be yourself again, show up to the meet, be confident."

Now, Wilde turns her attention to the NCAA West Preliminary meet this week, the second time she'll compete at that level with a shot at the national championships on the line. The meet runs Wednesday through Saturday at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Wilde will compete on the final day on Saturday. Wilde's mark of 5-10.5 currently ranks tied for 24th with a number of other competitors, and the top 12 placers advance to the NCAA outdoor championships.

She'll be joined by fellow Grizzlies Evan Todd (javelin) and Zane Johnson (pole vault) as Montana's representatives traveling to Arkansas, as she has her eyes set on jumping higher and higher, something the sophomore continues to achieve.

"I felt super young last year, like I was working on the mental aspects still," Wilde said. "I feel like having that experience from last year will definitely help me in this coming year. And just going to regionals I feel like is a huge accomplishment. And I don't want to be done yet. So I'm definitely gonna do the best I can push and keep going.

"I am so grateful for the people I met this season and I'm so grateful for all the people I got to practice with and all of our team dinners and all of just experiences and memories that we all made together. I never thought a college team could be this close as we are for track and field; there's 100 and something of us, but yet we're all just family. So I think having this year as a sophomore and all the people that came in, I'm just super grateful and thankful they are like everyone's on this team."