Griz Track & Field: Griz Drop Both Duals to Bobcats

By JOEL CARLSON

The Montana track and field teams dropped both matchups to Montana State in the annual Griz-Cat Dual Saturday at Dornblaser Field in Missoula.

The Bobcats won the men’s dual 109-88, their fourth win over the Grizzlies in the last five years. Montana State won even more handily on the women’s side, 120-78, MSU’s third win in four years.

Neither school is a dominant program in the Big Sky Conference, but Montana State, which finished second in the women’s standings and third in the men’s at the Big Sky indoor championships in February, is cresting.

That left Montana in the role of underdog in both duals Saturday, and the results were never really in doubt. Montana State won 15 of 19 events in the women’s dual, 13 of 19 events in the men’s dual, including all the throws.

“Certainly I would have liked to have won today, but realistically I don’t think it was in the cards,” said UM coach Brian Schweyen. “The men’s score was actually pretty good considering where we’re at and that MSU was third indoor.”

Griz Track & FieldThe Grizzlies made the men’s dual tighter than it was expected to be behind strong performances in thesprints.

Sophomore Dominique Bobo won the 200 meters in a season-best time of 21.48, freshman Sterling Reneau won the 400 meters in 48.88, his second straight week under 49 seconds, and senior Drew Owens won the 400-meter hurdles in 52.29.

Bobo and Reneau teamed up with freshmen Kerson Lubin and Alex Mustard to take the 4×100-meter relay in a time of 41.78, and Bobo, Reneau and Owens held the lead that junior Joe Lesar created in the opening leg of the 4×400-meter relay to post a winning time of 3:13.90, a four-second season best.

Lubin and Mustard, with times of 10.78 and 10.88, added to the sprints success by both breaking 11 seconds in the 100 meters for the first time this spring and finishing second and third. The pair also crossed the line second and third behind Bobo in the 200 meters in times of 22.10 and 22.25.

“The sprint group really performed well today. We had some great stuff in the 100 and 200, which was really fun to see,” said Schweyen.

Though some other races did not result in victories, they did produce some notable performances.

Senior Ben Williamson challenged MSU’s Cristian Soratos throughout the 1,500 meters, an event in which Soratos ranks third nationally, and not only survived the experience but had an adjusted PR of 3:51.01 to show for his effort, one-hundredth of a second off the Big Sky qualifying standard.

In the steeplechase, freshman Nathan Wellington ran an adjusted 9:35.27 to finish third in his first attempt at the race. His time has him ranked just outside the top 12 on the Big Sky performance list.

Montana’s lone field-event victory came in the high jump. Freshman Matt Quist, who also had a solid debut in the triple jump, going 44-1.25, won at a height of 6-4.75.

Sophomore Nick Jackson, already a qualifier in the shot put and discus, became the men’s team’s lone new Big Sky qualifier when he went 179-9, a PR of more than nine feet, to finish third in Friday’s hammer throw.

Junior Tyler Van Oort upped his PR in the discus from 153-8 to 158-7 to finish second and improved his PR in the hammer from 135-11 to 142-0 to place fourth. He nearly made it a career-best trifecta in the shot put. His third-place mark of 50-1.75 was one inch off his PR.

In other notable men’s performances, Bobo finished second in the long jump at a distance of 22-5.25 in his first attempt at the event this season, and redshirt freshman Riley Neville placed second in the pole vault at 15-5, his second straight week over 15 feet.

The Montana women, who were expected to be in a tighter battle than the Griz men, won three of the four throwing events but won just a single track event, redshirt senior Keli Dennehy’s runaway victory in the 1,500 meters, done in an adjusted time of 4:37.26.

The Bobcats have the better sprinters, and they also have Carley McCutchen, a fantastic multi-event athlete who inflicted the kind of damage on the Grizzlies that former UM great Lindsey Hall used to put on MSU. McCutchen won the 400 meters and long jump, and finished second in the 100-meter hurdles.

Despite losing by 42 points, Montana had its moments, maybe the most important coming on the pole vault runway, where junior Nicole Anskaitis, the Big Sky indoor champion, overcame a crisis of confidence that mushroomed between the indoor and outdoor seasons to go 12-7.5.

keyboard“It was great to see Nicole vaulting again,” said Schweyen, a former vaulter who knows well the struggle that can ensue when an athlete loses their edge in the event. “After battling and not being able to vault, she comes out and has a very solid day.”
Redshirt senior Caitlin Caraway gave Montana its first of three victories in the throws when she went 180-1 to win the hammer Friday afternoon.

Junior Samantha Hodgson went a season-best 47-1.5 to win the shot put Saturday morning, about the same time junior Stephanie Wells was winning the javelin with a throw of 147-1.

Redshirt senior Nycole Devers went a season-best 145-8 in the javelin, giving the Grizzlies their only 1-2 finish of the day.

A pair of freshmen had big breakthroughs in the hurdles. Morgan Sulser dropped her season best in the 100 hurdles from 14.85 to 14.48 while finishing third; Erika McLeod went from a season best of 1:04.77 to 1:02.51 to finish third in the 400 hurdles.

“Morgan ran a great race. She’s starting to click and really understand it,” said Schweyen. “For Erika, that’s almost a two-and-a-half-second PR, and there is still more to get.”

Two other freshmen also had career bests at the meet. Makenzee Cleveland-Aguirre ran a 57.58 to finish third in the 400 meters, and Hana Feilzer went 157-4 in Friday’s hammer throw, a season best of seven feet.

The Grizzlies will host the three-day Montana Open next week at Dornblaser Field. The women’s heptathlon will be contested Thursday and Friday, the hammer throws will take place Friday afternoon. The rest of the meet will be on Saturday.

Montana Sports Information