(Editor’s note: MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS – Sam Zook creeps ever closer to an NCAA Division II provisional mark to earn a trip to Nationals. Isaiah Girard in the fray for high jump, and Brady Ostermiller is in still in the conversation for shot put as outdoor track and field season rolls on for the Montana State University Billings Yellowjackets. This week, all three will have a chance to improve recent strong marks at the MSU Open in Bozeman, hosted by Montana State University at Bobcat Track and Field Complex.
Both men and women will compete on April 20. Field events begin at 10:30 a.m. with women’s hammer throw. Track events start at 12:25 p.m. with the women’s 4×100 meter relay. Teams from the region likely to participate include but are not limited to Montana, Montana State, Boise State, and Rocky Mountain College. It will be the sixth straight weekend of competition for the Yellowjackets, who have just three outdoor meets left before the GNAC outdoor championships May 10-11 in Monmouth, Oregon.
“I think it will be helpful to have the meet in Bozeman this week,” commented head coach Jon Woehl. “MSU re-surfaced their track last year and it was already a nice facility for us to compete. Everybody has at least a chance to qualify for the conference meet which is the position we want to be in. We’ve come up with a plan with each individual on how we are going to get to that point and it continues this week.”
Last week in Missoula, Zook won the 100 meter dash with a season best 10.84 second time. At 10.58, Zook would meet the provisional mark set for NCAA Division II to qualify for Nationals. A time of 10.26 gains him automatic entry. Zook also won the men’s 200 meter dash with a time of 21.61 seconds (NCAA provisional is 21.36 seconds). Each week of outdoor track season, Zook has steadily shaved time off in both sprints.
“I think Sam is probably more excited than nervous to go into these last couple meets,” said Woehl. “The last couple weeks, he has continued to improve and we feel he is headed in the right direction. It feels like those even faster marks are coming but predicting exactly which meet the best times will come is difficult. He can go out and compete hard and have good marks at any meet, but we may also need some help with weather conditions and wind in order to make sure he can get that one mark that gets him to Nationals. We need to be getting close to the NCAA automatic mark in order to qualify since that is the goal.”
Isaiah Girard exceeded the MSUB school record with a high jump of 2.06 meters earlier this spring and matched the mark last weekend in Missoula. He stands a sliver about the NCAA provisional mark of 2.04 meters. A clearance of 2.15 meters would qualify Girard automatically for Nationals and this week represents another chance to improve.
Brady Ostermiller continues to impress in shot put for the Yellowjackets. The senior set a season long 16.20 meters at the Yellowjacket/Battlin Bears Open on March 30 to beat the previous MSUB school record. Last week, Ostermiller recorded a mark of 14.98 for third place in the meet. He also earned third place in discus and finished seventh in hammer throw.
Distance runners Kailee Stoppel and Nikki Aiken are taking a break from steeplechase this week to run familiar events in Missoula. Aiken sets up for the 5000 meters while Stoppel is expected to run the 1500 meters. Aiken set a career best 19:06.03 at the Yellowjacket/Battlin’ Bears Open the last time she raced a 5K. Stoppel set a personal best 1500 meters in the Yellow Jacket Spring Open but has not ran another race of that distance in nearly a month.
“I think both Nikki and Kailee will do well this week,” Woehl said. “At our home meet, Nikki was right around 19 minutes so we’ll be shooting to get her inside of 18 minutes on Saturday. Kailee was right around 5 minutes 20 seconds in the 1500 so she’ll be looking to shave a little bit more time off, which she is very capable of doing. With Nikki we’ve worked on staying on pace later in the race and it’s been encouraging to see her continue to drop time.”
Men’s distance runners include Ivan Colmenero, Ase Ackerman, Drake Henson, Mark Hovland, Ronald Venema, and Carson Jessop. Rahkei Eyer, Lucas Harper, Kyle McLaughlin, and Logan Straus regularly run middle distance. MSUB’s middle distance women are held down by Rachel Hiner, Miranda Livingston, and Josie Smiedala.
“With our meet lineup, we have tried to vary what each player does on a week to week basis so they can perform at their best on meet day,” said Woehl of the team. “Performances vary based on the training schedules of each event group but we try to get everyone in a position to be successful. I think we’ll continue to get better in our last couple meets leading up to the GNAC Championships as we start to taper in our training. Also, our freshmen who are still fairly new to certain events will have had the chance to get more comfortable.”
Freshman Kaitlin Mason has had a good spring season so far for MSUB. Mason ran a season best 100 meters in 13.39 seconds at the Montana Open last weekend and finished sixth. In the 200 meters, Mason’s best time is 27.27 seconds, accomplished April 6 in Boulder, Colorado.
“Kaitlyn’s 100 time has gotten faster every week, which has been exciting to see,” said Woehl. “I think this week, she can be even faster for us. She’s earned her way onto the 4×400 relay team as well.”
MSUB’s go-to relay team for the 4×400 includes Anne Lory Chevalier, Josey Smiedala, Madison Thompson, and Brenna Becket. Smiedala is expected to take the weekend off in the event and will be replaced by Mason. The ‘Jackets also have a second 4×100 relay team which has Brooke Johnson, Janessa Williams, and Myhia Metzenberg involved.
“We are getting another chance to run relays this week and I’m looking forward to those events,” said Woehl. “Over the last few weeks, our relay teams have had the chance to come together and build chemistry.”
Beckett was a winner for the Yellowjacket women in Missoula, taking the 400 meters in 1:00.16. Beckett also ran an anchor leg on both MSUB women’s relay events, both of which finished third. She placed third in long jump with a mark of 16 feet, 4.5 inches.
Each of the Yellowjacket women’s throwers excel in different events. Hannah Nessan held the top spot on the team in shot put and discus in Missoula. In hammer, it was Taylor Stringari with a ninth place finish. Hailey Steinbeisser and Abbie Lohof are other close challengers in shot put. Aside from Ostermiller, the men feature Forrest Cross, Beau Peaslee, and Matthew Poore in throwing events.
Jumpers include Girard, Ty Stanton, Marcus Lindquist, and Harper. Stanton led MSUB’s field athletes last week after placing second in the men’s triple jump with a mark of 44 feet, 11.65 inches. For the women, Beckett, Metzenberg, Janessa Williams, and Shaniah Schwend are all capable jumpers. Schwend currently ranks ninth in the conference in triple jump.
A LOOK AROUND THE GNAC: Karlington Anunagba (Western Washington) earned his second consecutive athlete of the week award after winning the 100 meters at the Jay Hammer Invitational in a time of 10.33 seconds. The performance was good for second fastest in GNAC history and a provisional qualifier mark for the NCAA Championships. Sam Zook of MSUB was also nominated. Jake Knight (Northwest Nazarene) took men’s field athlete of the week. Miryam Bassett (Simon Fraser) earned track athlete of the week for the women and HarLee Ortega was awarded women’s field athlete of the week for Central Washington.