MISSOULA — Ten athletes from the Montana track and field teams had their seasons extended Thursday when the NCAA announced the fields for the nation’s two region championships.
Sophomore Erika McLeod, one centimeter from qualifying for regionals in the long jump, did not make the initial cut to the NCAA Championships in the heptathlon (the multi-events are not contested at the region level, just nationals).
The Butte High graduate is sitting 26th among declared athletes, with the top 24 competing next month at Eugene. Final declarations for the multi-events are made following the conclusion of next week’s region championships.
The Grizzlies’ contingent, which includes eight regional first-timers, will compete next Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the NCAA West Regional at Kansas’ two-year-old Rock Chalk Park in Lawrence.
This year’s group is six more than qualified for regionals last year and the second-most for the program under eighth-year head coach Brian Schweyen.
Making their second appearance at regionals will be junior Sammy Evans, who qualified in both the long and triple jumps, and sophomore Jensen Lillquist in the javelin.
Evans finished 32nd in the triple jump at the 2014 West Regional in Fayetteville, Ark. Lillquist was 39th in the javelin last spring at Austin, Texas.
The top 12 finishers in the 48-athlete event fields at Lawrence will join the top 12 finishers from the East Regional, held next week at Jacksonville, Fla., at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., June 8-11.
More than half of Montana’s first-time qualifiers are underclassmen: sophomores Hana Feilzer (hammer), Alex Mustard (200 meters), Matt Quist (high jump) and Sterling Reneau (400 meters), and freshman Kayla Holmes (discus).
Also qualifying for the first time were senior Lindsey Dahl (javelin) and juniors Nicole Stroot (long jump) and Daniel Jones (javelin).
Evans and Lillquist are both ranked in the top 25 in the region in their events, as are Feilzer and Quist.
Quist, at 7-1, is tied for 18th in the high jump with his height at the Al Manuel Northwest Dual in early April. Evans ranks 20th in the triple jump, at 42-0.75, and 22nd in the long jump, at 20-2.25, a performance she had last Friday to win the Big Sky Conference title.
Lillquist, whose career-best throw of 223-1 last Friday earned him his first Big Sky championship, ranks 21st in the javelin. Feilzer ranks 23rd in the hammer with her school-record throw of 196-1 from last Friday that gave her a runner-up finish at the Big Sky meet.
Dahl, at 155-10, and Mustard, at an adjusted 20.95, rank 31st in the javelin and 200 meters. Dahl’s season-best performance came at the Oregon Relays last month, Mustard’s in the Friday’s Big Sky preliminaries.
Reneau ranks 37th in the 400 meters with an adjusted time of 46.95, Holmes 44th in the discus at 164-11, Stroot 46th at 19-7 in the long jump and Jones 48th in the javelin at 204-8.
All four marks came at last week’s Big Sky championships at Greeley. Holmes won her first Big Sky title, Reneau and Stroot came in second, and Jones fourth.
— Montana Sports Information