(MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS – Entering into a busy January schedule, the men’s and women’s track and field teams at Montana State University Billings start out competition Friday in the Montana State University Open in Bozeman, Montana. The meet will take place inside Worthington Arena and feature field events beginning at 3:30 p.m. and track events starting at 5 p.m.
The MSU Open is the first meet for the Yellowjackets since they took part in the Bobcat Preview on December 1. The team had a successful start to the indoor season. Hailey Steinbesser posted a first place mark of 11.67 meters in the women’s shot put and Beau Peaslee came in second in men’s weight throw with a top mark of 14.28 meters.
Mark Hovland had the team’s best performance and ran a second place time of 4:34.43 in the men’s mile. It was a new personal best for Hovland, who won GNAC track and field player of the week for his effort.
“I am kind of excited to see if Mark can continue to improve after earning the GNAC player of the week last time out,” mentioned MSUB head coach Jon Woehl. “Hopefully he can pick up where he left off in December. Same with Kaelen Shay. I thought he had a really good meet in Bozeman in December and I think he’s capable of doing even better this time.”
Friday, the Yellowjackets will have close to a full lineup as they compete against athletes from Montana State, Carroll College, Montana, Providence, and Rocky Mountain College.
“I felt everyone did a good job working out over break this year so I expect us to have positive results at the MSU Open,” said Woehl. “It’s always a challenge to make progress from the first meet to the second meet of the year but because of the progress made over break without formal practice, we have still set ourselves up for success.”
The Yellowjackets were short on available distance runners in the first meet of the season because it so closely coincided with the end of cross country season. For most distance runners, the MSU Open represents their first indoor race of the year.
One distance runner who did compete last month is junior Nikki Aiken. Aiken finished in first place among three runners in the mile run and posted a time of 5:35.53. She is expected to compete in the 3,000 meters on Friday.
“Nikki did a couple shorter events in December than she is used to but now she’ll have a chance to do the 3K again this weekend, which should be good for her.”
For the men’s sprinters, Lucas Harper, Beau Ackerman, Kyle McLaughlin, and Kaelen Shay are expected to focus on the 60 meters as a main event. Ty Stanton and Isaiah Girard are also expected to run but both will also compete in jumps.
For the 200 meters, Rahkei Eyer is slated to start, along with Harper, McLaughlin, Shay, and Stanton. Eyer and McLaughlin are also running the 400 meter event.
For the women, it will likely be Maddy Thompson and Michaela Johnson in the 60 meters. Johnson had a fifth place finish at the Bobcat Preview in the 60 hurdles with a time of 9.26 seconds and will appear in the same event Friday.
The women’s relay teams will be hashed out in practice this week, according to Woehl. With two 4×4 teams, one will be made up of sprinters and the other of middle distance runners.
Cross country veterans Rachel Hiner, Miranda Livingston, and Sierra Durbin will compete in the women’s 800 meters. Durbin is a leading candidate to run on the middle distance relay team and it will be her first ever relay competition.
“Sierra is not a stranger to doing sprint events but she was the only girl on her high school team so it will be the first time she has been in a relay team at a track meet,” said Woehl. “It should be a good experience for her.
Mile runners include Hovland and Logan Straus while Tyus Mendoza, Ase Ackerman, and Ivan Colmenero are expected to compete in the 3,000 meter race.
The Yellowjackets will want to post benchmark times as they continue to get closer to the GNAC Indoor Championships scheduled for February 15-16 in Nampa, Idaho.
“The goal for Bozeman, Chadron, and Air Force is for everyone to get good marks in their events as we get closer to the conference meet,” said Woehl. “With a limited roster size, we want to make sure everyone is set up for success in any given event once we get to the conference. We’ll also see how the next few meets go to set up who might be on our distance medley relay team at conference.”
The MSU Open schedule:
3:30 PM Men’s Weight Throw, then Women’s Weight Throw, then
Men’s Shot Put, then Women’s Shot Put
3:30 PM Women’s Long Jump, then Men’s Long Jump, then
Women’s Triple Jump, then Men’s Triple Jump
4:00 PM Men’s Pole Vault, then Women’s Pole Vault
5:00 PM Women’s High Jump, Men’s High Jump
4:30 Community Mile
4:45 National Anthem
5:00 Women’s Mile
5:08 Men’s Mile
5:20 Women’s 60 Hurdles (2 heats)
5:30 Men’s 60 Hurdles (2 heats)
5:45 Women’s 400 (4 heats)
6:00 Men’s 400 (4 heats)
6:10 Little Bobcat 200 with Champ
6:20 Women’s 60 (2 heats)
6:30 Men’s 60 (2 heats)
6:40 Women’s 800 (1 heat)
6:50 Men’s 800 (1 heat)
7:00 Women’s 200 (7 heats)
7:25 Men’s 200 (7 heats)
7:50 Women’s 3,000
8:05 Men’s 3,000
8:20 Women’s 1,600 Relay (2 heats)
8:35 Men’s 1,600 Relay (1 heats)