(Editor’s note: MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS – The Montana State University Billings track and field teams continue outdoor season by travelling to Boulder for the Colorado Invitational April 5-6 at Potts Field. Seventeen Yellowjacket athletes broke personal best marks last weekend at the Yellowjacket/Battlin’ Bears Open and they will be looking to carry the positive momentum into Boulder, where they will be pitted against a range of Division I, Division II, and NAIA talent.
“It was a good meet for us last week,” said head coach Jon Woehl. “A lot of our athletes took advantage of the nice weather and we had steady improvements. Sam ran well in the 100 meters to win. Brady broke the school record in shot put on his last attempt and Nikki dropped 16 seconds off her 5K best so I am definitely excited for Colorado to see what we can do.”
Field events including hammer throw, javelin, and triple jump will commence on Friday at 3 p.m. while the remainder of track and field events are scheduled for Saturday beginning with men’s shot put and men’s 3000 meter steeplechase at 11 a.m. As well as competing against other schools directly, the Yellowjackets will be trying to earn positions in the top 20 to qualify in events for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference outdoor championships, set to take place in Monmouth, Oregon May 10-11.
After taking last week off in steeplechase, junior Nikki Aiken will be looking to improve her season average in the event and will be joined by Kailee Stoppel, who will likely enter steeplechase for the first time in her college career.
“Nikki will be able to run the steeplechase for the second time this year. I would expect her to have a sizeable improvement there in better weather. It will be fun to watch Kailee run it for the first time this year as well. She always ran hurdles in high school so her hurdle form should be an advantage. Doing a new event, especially with the water barrier will be a challenge but I’m excited because I think she has a lot of potential for that event.”
Last weekend saw favorable results for MSUB throwers. Brady Ostermiller set personal bests in hammer and shotput. His shotput heave of 53’ 1.75” was a new MSUB outdoor school record. Matthew Poore set a new personal best in hammer as well with a distance of 116’ 11”. For the women, Abbie Lohof went 131’0” in discus to set a new career high. Taylor Stringari and Hannah Nessan also posted good marks to start off outdoor season in hammer throw and discus.
“It has been good to see our women’s throwers continue to improve week-by-week,” Woehl said. “All of them had season bests in discus last weekend and shotput also went well. It was the first time throwing hammer this year and Taylor wasn’t too far off her career best. She started at about 40 meters and I think she’ll get up to 41-42 meters as we go through the schedule.”
The ‘Jackets will likely keep the triple threat trio of sprinters together for the 100 meter and 200 meters dash in Colorado. Sam Zook won the 100 meter dash in Laurel. Mason Schram was fifth and Kaelen Shay came in seventh, giving MSUB three runners inside the top 10.
“Sam, Mason, and Kaelen will be running the 100 meters and 200 meters for us,” said Woehl. “Kyle Patelis has been making good improvements in those two events as well.”
In middle distance, Rahkei Eyer made an impact last week but narrowly missed a top five position when he ran his 400 meter dash in 50.66 seconds, good for sixth.
“I want to see what Rahkei can do this weekend,” Woehl said of Eyer. “He’s had a couple weeks of training in and had a solid opener in the 400 in Laurel so he has the potential to really do well in both the 200 and 400 meters.”
Mark Hovland, Ivan Colmenero, Ronald Venema, and Logan Straus are expected to start long distance events, which consist of a 3K and 1500 meter run in Boulder.
“For our distance runners, it’s not necessarily all about getting good marks in the races this week,” said Woehl. “We want to make sure we focus on getting a good week of training. A lot of them are going to run both the 1500 and the 3000 meters so it will be about 5K worth of work. I expect that will be a good workout for them and hopefully we can set some new personal bests in the 1500. In higher elevation, they have the 3K event in Colorado so they can ensure a full field for distance events.”
Women’s distance runners include Aiken and Stoppel for MSUB.
The Yellowjackets have six meets on the schedule before the GNAC Outdoor Championships. Should either team qualify for nationals, the NCAA Division II meet will be in Indianapolis May 23-25.