MISSOULA — Montana split its squad on Saturday, sending a handful of competitors to Los Angeles while hosting a home tournament against fellow Treasure State athletes. Both locations saw several encouraging results, including 19 event wins in Missoula.
Early on this season, the women’s side has paced the Grizzlies, highlighted by some of the Big Sky’s top athletes across a variety of events. The women were strong on Saturday, but it was the men who took charge with some impressive — and surprising — results.
Overall, the Grizzly men won 11 of 19 possible events, including five first-time winners.
Freshman Jethro Thorne earned his first collegiate victory with a PR of 23-0.5 in the long jump, while Dylan Kipp, a transfer from Ashland University, won the javelin with a top throw of 179-2. Additionally, freshman Rogelio Mares won the steeplechase (PR 10:26.57) and redshirt freshman Andrea Baratte won the 1,500 meters (4:03.03).
One of the most impressive displays, though, was from sophomore Brent Yeakey, who was victorious in both the shot put (50-3.25) and discus (163-11). Also a two-event winner was junior Callum Macnab, posting a PR of 15.16 in the 110-meter hurdles for his first win in that event and a 54.52 in the 400-meter hurdles.
Montana went 1-2-3 in the men’s 400 meters, led by Sterling Reneau’s 48.64. He narrowly edged teammates Cade Johnstone (48.81) and Mitchell Ward (50.19).
While Noah Ramirez didn’t win an event, the freshman thrower was strong across the board. He placed second in the shot put with a PR of 50-0.75 and had a personal best of nearly a dozen feet in the hammer throw, placing fifth with a mark of 151-8.
The Johnstone twins, freshmen from nearby Forsyth, competed in four total events, finishing in the top three in all four. Cade Johnstone placed second in both the 200 meters (21.65) and 400 meters (48.81), while Paul Johnstone was second in the long jump (22-10.5) and third in the 200 meters (22.03).
The success was shared on the women’s side, as well, perhaps none bigger than the performance of sophomore Abby Dodge. The Butte native had a strong freshman season, winning the high jump at last year’s Montana Open and taking ninth at the Big Sky Championships. Saturday, though, she expanded her skillset. In addition to another win in the high jump (5-5.75), Dodge also competed in the triple jump for the first time, winning the event. Dodge jumped a distance of 38-4.25, better than any Grizzly in the past two seasons and the fourth-best mark by a Big Sky athlete this season.
In the pole vault, Chloe Seferos had a lifetime-best jump of 11-9.75 to win her first career event. Holly Houston was also an event-winner, placing first in the discus (season-best 153-10), in addition to a third-place finish in the shot put (40-5) and a PR of 146-4 in the hammer throw (fifth). Fellow thrower Kayla Holmes took second in both the shot put (season-best 41-8.5) and discus (134-2).
Montana went 1-2-3 in the 800 meters with Megan Franz leading the way (2:18.05), followed by Butte native Mijah McLeod (2:21.50) and Erica Simison (2:23.71). Additionally, Montana’s women earned victories in the 100-meter hurdles (Morgan Sulser, 14.78) and steeplechase (Jessica Bailey, 11:27.97), and took second 12 times, including by: Mariah Harvey (hammer throw), Kayla Holmes (shot put and discus), Carrie Jacka (pole vault), Hannah Kearns (long jump), Jaree Mane (100-meter hurdles and javelin), Carla Nicosia (triple jump), Emma Normand (100 meters and 200 meters), and Hannah Wylie (18:17.10).
While the majority of Montana’s athletes competed at home, the Grizzlies also sent 13 of their top competitors to UCLA for the Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational. Many of the events had smaller heats, but also featured high-level athletes from UCLA, Oklahoma, Fresno State, Loyola Marymount and more.
The highlight came in the women’s 800 meters, where Montana swept the top-three places in the five-person race. Madeline Hamilton won the race with a time of 2:09.36, showing both her progression from the start of the season and the start of her career. The time was a PR by more than 2 full seconds, and a season best by more than 4 seconds. Carly Smiedala (2:12.00, second) also had a season-best time, while Maryn Lowry took third (2:16.99).
Lowry, the defending Big Sky Conference Women’s Track Athlete of the Week, took second in a loaded field of 15 runners in the 1,500 meters, including six runners from UCLA and a pair from Oklahoma. Lowry led UCLA’s Gwyn George – who took third – by less than a half second with 400 meters remaining, but finished strong to best George by more than 2 full seconds.
Senior thrower Hana Feilzer placed second in the hammer throw and fourth in the discus. She threw 200-8 in the hammer, a season best by more than 10 feet and less than 6 feet from her own school record. The mark is by far the best of the season by a Big Sky athlete.
All five of Feilzer’s marked throws went at least 183 feet. UCLA’s Alyssa Wilson, the event winner, was the only other thrower to reach that distance even once. In the discus, Feilzer also had a season best, reaching 153-0. She was one inch from third place and 13 inches from second place, only trailing athletes from Oklahoma and UCLA.
Junior Matt Quist had a strong day in the men’s high jump, placing second out of nine jumpers. He cleared 6-7.5 on his first attempt, only finishing behind UCLA’s Stan Lee.
Additionally, Montana’s Jensen Lillquist beat Oklahoma’s Alex Haus to win the javelin, throwing a season-best 213-5. In the women’s javelin, UCLA’s Ilaria Casarotto won the event with a throw of 155-8 on her first throw, but Montana held its own, placing second (Kimberly Earhart, 142-0), third (Zena Smith, 138-11) and fourth (Darby Henthorn, 132-10). Jane Booth finished in four-way tie atop the women’s high jump (5-8) while Olivia Ellis was Montana’s best runner in the 100-meter hurdles (14.49, eighth) and 400-meter hurdles (1:02.63, second).
— Montana Sports Information