(Big Sky State Games release)
BILLINGS -- Big Sky State Games organizers released the 2020 Montana Mile field Monday, the annual race that signals the beginning of the summer sports weekend.
This year's Montana Mile, set for Friday during the BSSG Opening Ceremonies on Wendy's Field at Daylis Stadium, marks the 29th running for men and the 19th for women. It is an invited race featuring some of the state’s fastest high school, college, and post-collegiate milers.
Reigning champion McKenzie O’Dore will be back to defend her title, as well as 2018 Champion Isaac Petsch and 2016 Champion Tiahna Vladic.
The Women’s Montana Mile record is 4:53.9 set in 2011 by Lois Ricardi Keller. Patrick Casey set the Men’s record in 2010 in 4:07.9.
Ase Ackerman just completed his second year at Montana State University-Billings. He competed in the steeplechase, 5000m, and cross country. He earned All-State honors for Dawson County High in the 3200 in 2018. Ase is majoring in Health and Human Performance.
Rocky Mountain College student-athlete George Beddow earned All Amercian honors in the Marathon at the 2019 NAIA National Championship placing 6th. The Billings Central grad has a 4:35 mile personal best. George is majoring in biology.
Bozeman High grad and current Montana State Bobcat Riley Collins is a three-time All-State Cross Country and five-time All-State Track runner. Collins was a member of the 2016 Nike Cross Country National Championship team from Bozeman. His mile PR is 4:05.
Montana State University- Billings graduate, Daniel Colmenero, is running the Montana Mile for the 4th time. He was an All-State runner for Manhattan High School and part of Manhattan’s State Championship team. Colmenero’s best time in the mile is 4:22.
Rocky Mountain College Junior Jackson Duffey is making his Montana Mile debut. The Class A All-State Cross Country and Track runner from Ronan has a mile best of 4:25.
Jorey Egeland, a Billings Senior product finished his college career in 2018 as one of MSU-Billings’ best distance runners in school history. He earned GNAC All-Conference honors seven times and won conference races in the 3k steeplechase and 5k his senior year. Egeland garnered NCAA Division II second team All-American honors in the steeplechase. This will be his 4th time competing in the Montana Mile. His mile PR is 4:20.
Missoula Loyola and Loyola Marymount University graduate Mike Evans is making his Montana Mile debut. His best 1500m is 4:00.84.
Missoula’s Ignatius Fitzgerald will be a senior in the fall at Hellgate High. He is an All-State cross country runner with a best mile time of 4:30.
2019 Class A Cross Country State Champion Sam Fulbright of Lewistown will run for the University of Idaho Vandals in the fall. Fulbright earned All- State honors four times in Cross Country for Fergus High School. His mile best is 4:33.36.
Montana Tech’s newly named Cross Country Coach, Zach Kughn will debut in the Montana Mile. He was a Big Sky Conference Champion in the 2017 Distance Medley Relay for Montana State. Kughn has a 4:08 best in the mile.
Former Hardin Bulldog, Virgil McCormick will be competing in his first Montana Mile. He earned All State Cross Country honors and was the 2017 Class A Cross Country silver medalist. McCormick’s mile PR is a 4:28.
Rocky Mountain College graduate, Isaac Petsch is slated to race his 7th Montana Mile. In 2018 he captured the title. The former West High Bear was a five-time All-State runner in track, placing 2nd in the boys 1600m at the 2015 class “AA” State Meet. The six-time NAIA All American raced to a 2nd place finish in the 1500m at the 2017 Outdoor NAIA Track Nationals and earned 4th place at the NAIA Indoor Track Nationals in the 4x800m relay. Isaac’s mile best sits at 4:08.
Owen Smith will be competing in his second Montana Mile. The incoming freshman at Montana State University was an All-State Cross Country and Track athlete at Billings Senior High. Smith’s mile PR is 4:24.
Laurel High grad and Montana State University Bobcat, Levi Taylor, is a two-time Class A Cross Country Champion and five- time State Champion in Track. Taylor went undefeated in Montana in the 800m, 1600m, and 3200m his senior year (2018). Last year he placed 3rd in the Montana Mile. His mile PR is 4:09.
The 1999 Big Sky Conference Indoor Mile Champion for the University of Montana Jesse Zentz earned All-State honors in both cross country and track for West High. This is Jesse’s 6th Montana Mile; he won the race in 1998. He is a three-time Montana Masters Mile Champion and his mile best time is 4:07. Zentz serves on the Big Sky State Games Board of Directors and his daughter Odessa Zentz is running in the women’s field.
Sage Brooks will be a Senior in the fall at Missoula Hellgate. In 2019, she finished 5th at the AA State Cross Country meet and 9th in the Nike Cross Country Regional Northwest meet. She ran a time of 17:50.9 which qualified her for Nike Cross Country Nationals.
Incoming West High Freshman Taylee Chirrick has been running and racing for years and she is just 14. She set her Middle School‘s records in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1600m, 80m hurdles and long jump. Chirrick is a multiple-time Big Sky State Games Gold Medalist and age group record setter. She is the 2017 State Games of America National Champion in the 200m, 400m, 800m, and 1600m. Her mile top time is 5:15.
Colstrip graduate Whitney Hanson is making her second appearance in the Montana Mile. She is a three-time Montana Class B State Champion, winning the 2018 Cross Country and 2019 800m and 1600m titles. The soon to be college sophomore holds four school records at Minot State University. Hanson’s top mile time is 5:12.57.
Kylie Hartnett, of Helena High School, will be competing in her second Montana Mile. She was the 2019 Montana Junior Olympic Female Athlete of the Year. Hartnett holds Helena High’s 5k, 1600m and 3200m school records and is an All-State athlete in both cross country and track. Hartnett won the 2019 Montana Class AA Cross Country Championship and has a mile best of 5:02.
University of Montana – Western Bulldog, Mindy Kaufman is participating in her second Montana Mile. She placed second in the race last year. Kaufman earned NAIA All American honors in both Cross Country and Track. At the 2018 NAIA Nationals she raced to 3rd place in the 1500m. Kaufman’s mile record is 5:05.
Abby Kendrick of Missoula Hellgate is a first-time competitor in the Montana Mile. She is a two-time All-State Cross Country athlete and was a member of the 2018 Class AA Cross Country State Champion Hellgate Knights team. Kendrick has clocked a 1600m best time of 5:10.
Sydney Little Light
Hardin High All State Cross Country and Rocky Mountain College runner Sydney Little Light was on the 2018 State A Championship Cross Country Team and 2019 Frontier Conference Championship Team. She brings a mile best of 5:10 to her first Montana Mile.
Former MSU Bobcat and RMC runner MacKenzie O’dore is the Montana Mile defending Champion. She placed third in 2018. O’Dore is an eight-time Class C State Champion for Joliet, three-times in Cross Country, three-times in the 1600m and once in both the 800m and 3200m. Her best time at 1500m is 4:38.
The 2016 Big Sky State Games Female Athlete of the Year, Mary Owen is making her Montana Mile debut. She is a Boston Marathon qualifier and a multiple marathon winner at both the Governor's Cup and Montana Marathon. The Skyview High teacher and cross-country coach ran for Montana State University – Billings. Owen’s marathon best is 2:47.49.
Winona State grad and new Butte resident Anna Rogahn is running in the Montana Mile for the first time. She earned NCAA Dll American honors in the 2020 Indoor Mile. The professional triathlete has a mile best of 4:52.
A standout runner for Billings Senior High, Tiahna Vladic won the Montana Mile in 2016, her debut at the race, and has finished 2nd twice. Vladic was the AA State Champion twice in Cross Country and once in the 3200m. She was awarded the Montana Gatorade Cross Country Runner of the Year twice and also earned the honor of Midland Roundtable Athlete of the Year in 2019. In 2016 she qualified for the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, OR where she placed 23rd among the top runners in the nation. Vladic attends Boise State and her PR for the mile is a speedy 4:56.
Helena High’s Odessa Zentz recently finished her Sophomore year. Odessa’s Father, Jesse Zentz, ran the Montana Mile 5 times, winning it in 1998. Following in her father’s footsteps, this will be Odessa’s second Montana Mile. Odessa qualified for the 2019 AA State Track Meet in 6 events and ended up capturing the State AA titles in both the 400m and 800m. Her best mile time is 5:18.75.
Billings Senior grad Laura Zimmer will run for Claremont McKenna College in the fall. She is a two-time Montana Class AA State Champion in the 4x400m Relay and All-State runner in the 800m. Zimmer’s mile potential is untapped, having run the race just a few times in 2019. Her mile best is 5:18.
The gates to Daylis Stadium open at 6 p.m. The official Ceremonies begin at 7 p.m. Social distancing measures will be in place and masks are required by attendees. Opening Ceremonies is sponsored by Wendy’s. Major Sponsors of the State Games are Kampgrounds of America (KOA), First Interstate Bank, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana.