(Editor’s note: MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS – Favorable and warm weather conditions should bode well for athletes competing in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference outdoor track and field championships Friday and Saturday in Monmouth, Oregon. With temperatures expected to reach 80 degrees both days, Montana State University Billings will be looking for an improvement on last year’s sixth place men’s finish and 10th place women’s result.
Other teams competing include Seattle Pacific, Concordia, Central Washington, Alaska Anchorage, Simon Fraser, Western Oregon, Northwest Nazarene, and Saint Martin’s. Friday, field events begin at 2:25 p.m. local time with running events set to kick off at 2:50 p.m. Saturday’s field events start at 2:25 p.m., following by track events at 4:45 after the National anthems. The GNAC will be providing live statistics throughout the championships and those interested can also follow @MSUBxctf on twitter.
The ‘Jackets have several individual athletes in contention for qualification in the NCAA Division II National championships and this weekend’s meet represents their last chance to improve. Sam Zook remains in the picture in both the 100 and 200 meter dash and placed second in both events last season at the GNAC Championships. He leads the field in the 200 so far this spring with a top time of 21.44 seconds, just ahead of Concordia’s Adam Brown (21.48 seconds).
Isaiah Girard has an NCAA provisional mark after he marked a new MSUB school record 2.08 meters in high jump earlier this season. He currently ranks second in the conference behind Tyler Cronk of Saint Martin’s in competition for the title. Girard cleared 2.01 meters in high jump at the Jack Christiansen Invitational on April 27.
Brady Ostermiller holds an NCAA provisional mark in shot put and ranks fourth in the GNAC with a top mark of 53’ 1.75 meters, set at the Yellowjackets/Battlin’ Bears Open on March 30. He remains well short of an automatic bid for Nationals but is very much in contention for the GNAC title.
The men’s 4×100 meter relay team ranks first in the conference after setting a time of 41.69 seconds at the Montana State Open. Zook, Mason Schram, Lamont Frisby, and Kaelen Shay ran the event and secured the championship for MSUB last season. This season Shay is slated to run the first leg, followed by Zook, Schram, and Rahkei Eyer as they hope to defend the title Friday. Northwest Nazarene will be looking for an upset and they raced just two-hundredths of a second off MSUB’s pace this season.
“It’s been a long season and we’ve been to a lot of meets to get experience,” commented head coach Jon Woehl. “I think we’ve figured out a lot of things and been able to translate what we work on in practice over to meets fairly well. Having all the meets up to this point have allowed us time to figure out how to do that so I’m excited to for them to have the opportunity to do that on a bigger stage at the conference meet. It’s the last go around for Sam (Zook) and Kaelen (Shay) so I am excited to see how they perform one last time as they finish their careers. Outdoor conditions are looking very good for some fast times.”
Zook and Schram are slated second and third heading into the 100 meter dash prelims with Shay currently ranked 10th.
Nikki Aiken will have a chance to finish in the top five in the women’s 3000 steeplechase. She is slated sixth with a time of 11:25.91. Julia Howley (Simon Fraser) is the favorite with a top time of 10:03.19. Aiken also qualified to run the 5000 meters after she successfully translated a good fall cross country season into results on the track this spring. She enters the prelims ranked 22nd.
The Yellowjackets have two athletes set to compete in the women’s 100 meter dash. Anne Lory Chevalier has had consistent results this spring and comes in at No. 14 after setting a pace of 12.76 seconds. Kaitlin Mason is 16th with a time of 12.84 seconds. Sierra Durbin and Josey Smiedala earned top-20 spots in the 400 meter hurdles and Chevalier also qualified 19 for the women’s 200 meter dash.
“I think Anne Lory will do really well,” Woehl said. “She’s been looking really good in practice. This week will be pretty light on training so she can be nice and fresh on Friday and Saturday. She’s a ways off of eighth place but the amount of time to make up is minimal so we’ll just have to see what happens. She’s been able to get faster and faster throughout the season which helps her chances a lot.”
In distance running, Ivan Colmenero may be the MSUB’s best hope. Colmenero was the top runner during cross country season and enters the 10,000 meter run ranked 14th. Teammate Ronald Venema ran well last week and is also expected to compete in the event. Colmenero ranks 21st in the men’s 5000 meters.
The women’s 4×400 meter team includes Durbin, Smiedala, Kailee Stoppel, and Brenna Beckett. The made the qualifying cut in eighth position ahead of this week’s meet. Alaska Anchorage and Simon Fraser rank first and second respectively and are front runners.
Aside from Girard, the Yellowjackets have several other athletes competing in jump events. In women’s long jump, Beckett and Madison Thompson will likely appear. Ty Stanton has a realistic shot to win men’s triple jump. He is currently third with a top mark of 14.17 meters. Zach Whitaker (Central Washington) leads the group at 14.27 meters. Marcus Lindquist also ranks eighth in triple jump for MSUB. Jamie Orme enters the women’s high jump rated 18th. Janessa Williams (seventh), Beckett (ninth), and Shaniah Schwend (14th) give the ‘Jackets a large field for women’s triple jump.
Among throwers, Ostermiller has the best chance at a title in shot put but also qualified 10th for discus throw and 13th for hammer throw. Beau Peaslee will throw javelin and hammer for MSUB.
Four Yellowjacket women throw discus, hammer, and shotput for MSUB but each have different strengths. Taylor Stringari leads the field in hammer throw. Hannah Nessan has a slight edge over Hailey Steinbeisser in shot put and also excelled in discus throw, ranking fifth. Abbie Lohof comes in eighth in discus throw and 15th in hammer.
Concordia won the men’s team competition a year ago but Western Washington would like to take away the top spot on the podium after winning the indoor track and field crown in February. The Seattle Pacific women, meanwhile, are front runners for their second straight outdoor championship, which would be their fourth title in five years.
“Looking at the weather this weekend, we are supposed to have a good tailwind and good temperatures so everybody should be warmed up,” said Woehl. “Our seniors want to do well. They’ve come a long way since they were freshman. Some of them have always been contributors toward team points and others weren’t even close in the beginning but have slowly gotten better every single year. It’s been really cool to see their growth as athletes in their time here.”