Bobcats bring home track medals

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Montana State earned 11 total medals over the weekend, with five-first place finishes overall at the Mondo Mid-Major Challenge in Sacramento, Calif. The Bobcat men had three golds, while the women notched only one. In the scored meet among an impressive competitive field of mid-major programs, Montana State fared quite well. The men ended in third place with 118 points. Meet host Sacramento State won with 214 points and Utah State in second with 127. In seventh place were the women who tallied 50.5 points. The overall team champion was Brigham Young with 155 for the women.

The meet kicked off on Thursday with the decathlon and MSU was represented by a third place finish from Powhattan Williamson. Williamson, who has seen considerable improvement in his sophomore season, finished with 6,291 points. He earned lifetime bests in the high jump (1.82m/5-11.50) and 1500 (4:45.36) and had individual wins in the 400 dash (51.56) and the 110 hurdles (15.11). His score also qualifies him for the Big Sky Championship meet, which will take place in four weeks, beginning May 8.

The distance runners and the throwers were arguably the stars of the weekend. The pace of the meet was kicked off by Heather Demorest in the 3,000 steeplechase, winning the event in a time of 10:40.97 and earning a personal record time, as well. Her time now ranks her second in the Bobcat record books behind Heather Haug’s 10:34.01. Demorest placed 10th in the 1,500 but still managed to get her second PR of the weekend with a time of 4:34.62.

In the next event, Jacob Kirk ran a lifetime best time of 8:50.60 in the men’s steeplechase, which moved him up to fourth in the MSU record book and most notably, also set a meet record at Hornet Stadium. Kirk turned around on Saturday to earn his second medal of the week when he crossed the finish line in 3:50.14 for an additional lifetime best performance and a silver medal. Teammate Michael Asay, who missed the Big Sky mark by two seconds, still turned out a lifetime best performance with a sixth-place finish time of 3:54.58

Also on Friday, Trevor Polson put on a speedy show in the 5,000, earning another gold for the Bobcats. He paced himself to a time of 14:31.50, a personal best time by nearly 20 seconds. Seth Garbett (14:40.36) and Zachary Kughn (14:45.67) also turned out PRs and placed fourth and fifth, respectively.

The men’s 800 posted another one of the best races of the weekend. Trailing at the 600 meter-mark, Grant Grosvenor and Matthew Tex kicked it into high gear to finish first and third, respectively. To make it even more significant, both clocked in with their first sub-1:50 race and both broke the current school record of 1:49.61 set by Pat Casey back in 2011. Grosvenor finished in 1:49.28, while Tex clocked in at 1:49.44.

In the women’s race, Lierin Flanagan also clocked with a lifetime best time, as well as a Big Sky qualifier, when she crossed the line in 2:11.38

To continue with the status quo, the MSU throwers put on another remarkable act at the Mondo Challenge.

Kristi VandeBergh, the lone female repping Blue and Gold in Sacramento placed 14th overall in the discus with a throw of 38.32m (125-09.00) in the first field event of the meet. She turned around on Saturday to take third overall in the shot put. Her throw of 14.21m (46-07.50) marks a season-best launch, as well.

In the men’s discus, David Phillips was MSU’s highest finisher in seventh, with 48.79m (160-01), just shy of a 2013 high. Derek Marsh came in 10th (47.48m), while Calvin Root (45.62m), Sean Ferriter (45.31m) and Zach Sharp (44.35m) came in 13th, 14th and 16th, respectively.

Getting two more top-10 finishes in the shot put, Trevor Gilreath launched a season best throw of 16.53m (54-02.75) to take fifth place. Phillips came in eighth with 15.38m. Root, one of the leading freshman throwers this season, came in 12th with 14.40m.

Perhaps one of the most lucrative events of the week for the Bobcats was the hammer throw featuring the dynamic lineup of Montana State throwers. Phillips finally broke into the upper echelon and won the event with 60.85m (199-08.00), his second farthest throw of the year.  Ferriter came in a very impressive second place to inch out Sac State’s Zach Coniglio. Ferriter’s throw marks a new personal best of 56.93m (186-09.00).

MSU had four of the five hammer competitors place in the top-10. Eddie Stevenson (53.15m) came in fifth, followed by Marsh in sixth (52.80m). Root’s throw of 49.63m earned him a 10th place finish. Zach Sharp just missed the cutoff, coming in 11th with 49.57m.

In other field events, Casey Teska, who is in the thick of a breakout freshman campaign, placed second in the pole vault. She launched herself to a career-best height of 3.75m (12-03.50). Rebekka Chambers came in sixth with 3.60m (11-09.75) and Libby Madison finished 11th with 3.45m (11-03.75).

“Going into this meet, we knew it would be a test from several perspectives,” said head coach Dale Kennedy. “We adjusted to the weather, which was a big concern. We got meet records, school records and saw the continued progress we hope for each week. No meet is ever perfect but we’ll come back to Bozeman, and focus on the areas that we may not have had the results we hoped for. However, I can say with confidence that this meet was a big success for our program.

Montana State returns home for the Bobcat Open on Saturday, April 20. The heptathlon portion of the meet will take place April 18-19, beginning at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday and 3 p.m. on Friday. Saturday’s full schedule of events is tentatively scheduled for an 11 a.m. start in the field events and 11:45 for the track.

— MSU Sports Information