By Bill Foley
Montana State University wanted to see how Joby Rosenleaf’s senior season on the track was going before they offered her scholarship money.
Apparently, the Bobcats liked what they saw.
The Butte High senior said accepted a scholarship offer from the Bobcats Thursday night. She’ll run cross country, indoor track and outdoor track at MSU.
“I’m very excited,” Rosenleaf said Saturday, after winning the 800 at a meet hosted by Butte High. “I know some of the other girls who run there or have signed there. I’m happy to be part of a team with them.”
Rosenleaf’s scholarship offer to MSU makes it three Butte senior girls who will be heading to NCAA Division I track programs. Butte Central’s Rachael McGree will be a teammate of Rosenleaf in Bozeman, while Butte High’s Abby Dodge will compete for the University of Montana.
Of course, Butte High graduate Erika McLeod is in the midst of an remarkable career with the Grizzlies.
“I’m excited about her going to MSU,” said Butte High coach Arie Grey, a former football player with the Bobcats. “That’s a great fit for her.”
Grey said Rosenleaf’s work ethic is off the charts.
“Joby puts the time and effort in,” he said. “If it’s 20 degrees and there’s snow everywhere, she’s going running. And she’s not going to make an excuse. She’s tough as nails.”
A little more than a month into her senior track season, Rosenleaf has qualified for the Class AA State meet in three events. She’ll run in the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter races during the May 26-27 meet in Butte.
She also recently started running a leg on Butte High’s 1,600-meter relay team. On Saturday, she placed sixth in the 400.
“The range she’ll take with her to MSU is unbelievable,” Grey said. “Joby is not afraid to pound the pavement.”
Her big senior season in track comes after Rosenleaf had an outstanding season running cross country for the Bulldogs. She placed 18th at the State meet in Kalispell, finishing the 3-mile race in 18 minutes, 30 seconds.
Rosenleaf attributed her strong senior season in both sports to working harder and smarter.
“I made it a point to get about 40 miles every week during the offseason,” she said. “It paid off.”
On Feb. 25 of this year, Rosenleaf won the women’s overall title in the Snow Joke half marathon in at Seeley Lake. She finished the 13.1-mile race in 1 hour, 29 minutes: 11 seconds.
On March 12, she won the women’s title in the 3-mile race of the Ancient Order of Hibernian’s St. Patrick’s Day Race in Anaconda. She broke the long-standing record for the 14-19 age group with a time of 16:44.
Last July, Rosenleaf placed second overall among women with a time of 1:28:47 in the half marathon of the Jack & Jill’s Down Hill Marathon & Half in North Bend, Washington. Her time in that race was 1:28:47.
Rosenleaf, who carries a cumulative 4.0 GPA at Butte High, said she will likely study health and human performance with an emphasis on exercise science at MSU. She said her goal is to eventually go to physical therapy school.
“I’m just excited for college,” she said.
The daughter of Ozzie and Sunvee Rosenleaf, Joby will be competing for Butte High at the state track meet for the third time. She ran at state all four years in cross country.
Grey said it is going to be hard to see her move on from Butte High.
“She loves to run, and she’s smart,” he said. “She studies cross country. She studies track and field. The sky’s the limit for her. I’m so excited to get her for three more weeks.”