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MSU Billings draws first look at Division II competition Friday

Posted at 1:51 PM, Jan 18, 2018

(MSUB Athletics release)

BILLINGS – The Montana State University Billings Yellowjackets will get a look at 11 different Division II schools this weekend when they travel to Brookings, S.D. for the SDSU Division II Invite on Friday. It will be the largest meet of the season thus far for the ‘Jackets and the first time in the 2017-18 season that MSUB will compete against fellow Division II universities.

“It will be good to test ourselves against other teams at our level,” head coach Jonathan Woehl said about the meet. “There will be a lot of good schools there this weekend and we will get to see how we stack up instead being caught in-between the Division I and NAIA schools.”

Minnesota State’s men’s squad comes into the meet with athletes hitting provisional marks in seven events, more than any other school represented at the invite. Their women’s team has reached three provisional marks which also leads participants in Brookings. In total, 23 men and 14 women who will be at the invite have reached provisional marks including MSUB’s Sam Zook who holds the fourth fastest 60-meter time in all of Division II.

There will be another first of the season for the Yellowjackets as they will run on a 300-meter track for the first time after holding their first two meets on a 200-meter track in Bozeman.

“The 300-meter track is more conducive to faster times,” Woehl noted. “With wider turns and longer straights it helps everyone who runs more than 60-meters. It will be the first time this season that we get to run a 200-meter without going around two tight corners.”

Taking advantage of the opportunity to run on a bigger track, the ‘Jackets will have Zook, Lamont Frisby, Mason Schram and Kaelen Shay all run in the 200. Frisby currently holds the top time on the team after posting a 23.03 in the first meet of the season while Shay posted a personal-best 23.61 in the event last week. Zook and Schram have yet to run the event this season. Three competitors at the meet have already met the provisional standard of 21.77.

In the women’s 200-meter, the Yellowjackets will be represented by Brenna Beckett, Savannah Merritt, Mataia Robinson and Josey Smiedala. With a time of 26.36 from last season, Smiedala has had the most success in the 200 amongst the four Yellowjackets. Her time of 27.78 from last week is the second best time for MSUB this season behind Jewlz Collins’ mark of 27.32. Beckett has yet to run the 200 this season after posting a 27.32 as a freshman last year. Merritt will also be getting her first look at the 200 this season while Robinson will look to improve on her 28.43 posted at her first collegiate meet last week.

Nels Flanagan will push to improve upon a stellar start to the season in the weight throw as continues to reach for the 17.46-meter provisional mark. Last week the senior marked the first throw over 17-meters (17.22m) in his career and fell just six-inches shy of the qualifying mark. He will compete against six athletes who have already achieved a provisional mark in the weight throw.

After improving in back-to-back meets, Hannah Nessan (12.88m) and Taylor Stringari (12.72m) are just short of joining Kassadee Kuoha above the 13-meter threshold in the weight throw. With over a month between meets, Nessan improved her mark by over a meter at the MSU Invite last Friday.

For the first time this season the Yellowjacket’s distance runners will have the opportunity to run the 3,000-meter after running the 5K in the past two meets in Bozeman. Jorey Egeland will lead a deep field of MSUB men after finishing last season with the Yellojackets’ top time in the event (8:52.53). Carson Jessop, Ronald Venema, Tyus Mendoza and Jack Pickell will also run in the race. Nikki Aiken and Kateri Rush will take part in the race for the women’s distance group. Aiken finished last season with a top time of 11:14.29 in the event.

The Yellowjackets will have one 4×400-meter relay team in for each the men’s and the women’s races. The women will run Jerrica Martin, Beckett, Robinson and Smiedala in the race. Martin will take over for Collins who teamed up with Beckett, Robinson and Smiedala to post a time of 4:19.30 last week. Smiedala will also run the 400 as an individual for the third time this season. She improved her time by a second and a half last week finishing in 1:01.49.

In the men’s 4×400 Rahkei Eyer will lead off followed by Mark Hovland, Kyle McLaughlin and Drake Henson. Isaiah Girard led off the relay last week with Henson, McLaughlin and Eyer combining for a time of 3:44.70. Eyer and McLaughlin will also race the 400-meter dash along with Nate Vandeby.

Girard and Marcus Lindquist will compete in the long jump with Girard currently holding the ‘Jackets’ top distance of 6.37 meters. Girard had a great showing in the high jump last week as he completed a jump of 2.0 meters, currently the second best mark in the GNAC. Lindquist will be MSUB’s sole competitor in the triple jump after setting a new personal record earlier this season at a distance of 13.42 meters.

Shaniah Schwend, Jamie Orme and Halie Warren will all take part in the high jump after Schwend reached a team-best 1.53 meters in her first college high jumping competition last week. Schwend will compete in all three jumps as she joins Beckett in both the long and triple jump. Beckett has team bests in the long (4.83m) and triple jump (10.54m) this season.

Results for all track and field events will be posted on the Track and Field Results Reporting System following the conclusion of each meet throughout the season.