FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Day Four. That’s all that was left. Montana State Track and Field gave their literal and proverbial all at the Big Sky Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Flagstaff, Arizona, on Saturday… and it was worth it. While they may not have come up with that first place Big Sky trophy, the men and women bested the preseason polls. The men’s second place finish is their best since the 2012 season when MSU hosted the event and the women came in third.
The MSU men held their own over the course of the meet, sitting in first place after the third day and ended up with the runner-up trophy behind meet host Northern Arizona. The Bobcats finished with 118 points to NAU’s 151. The women finished in third place behind NAU and Montana, earning 110 total points.
Like the previous day, the hammer throw started off the fourth and final day on Northern Arizona’s campus. Butte Central graduate Sean “Diesel” Ferriter finished third overall, earning his first All-Big Sky finish of his ever-improving career. He measured a toss of 197-08 (60.26m).
After a very busy three days, Jeff Mohl competed in his final individual event, with no finish lower than fourth. While his may have run out, placing sixth overall in the high jump, he still managed another PR with a height of 6-08.75 (2.05m), bookending an unbelievable conference career. His 141 points marks the highest number of points scored by a Bobcat at the Big Sky Conference meet.
The women’s javelin did not produce any points for MSU but it did have a few notable lifetime bests. Leslie Gappa was MSU’s top finisher, coming in ninth place, just out of point contention with a throw of139-02 (42.41m).Dawn Blevins came in 10th place with her PR throw of 138-10 (42.31m), followed by Brittnee Grimstad in 16th and Danielle Muri in 19th place.
Casey Teska picked up her second consecutive Big Sky finish, placing second in the pole vault. She tied her all-time best height, launching herself to 13-01.75 (4.01m). Libby Madison recorded her best finish, coming in fourth alongside a PR of her own at 12-04 (3.76m). Sami Risa and Amy Rovira placed 10th and 15th, respectively.
Kevin Close earned the final field points of the day in the triple jump. Taking third in the triple jump, he tied his lifetime best jump of 47-10.50 (14.59m) for his first All-Big Sky performance.
Kristi VandeBergh kept the point coming for MSU, placing sixth in the shot put. She uncorked a season-best throw of 46-06.75 (14.19m).
The 4×100 relay always sets off a spark in the running events, especially on the final day of the meet. The men’s relay came in sixth in 41.31, still earning valuable points for the Blue and Gold.
With two new programs records under their belts this season, the women’s 4×100 quarter of Chelsea Bourque, Iris Hardarson, Paige Squire and Chantel Jaeger, felt that third time is a charm. Their All-Big Sky finish, placing third, and collective time of 45.75 marks another program best, improving from their 46.34 just one week ago.
The men’s 1,500 was all Blue and Gold. Cristian Soratos and Grant Grosvenor earned the 1-2 finish, just tenths of a second apart. Soratos’ first individual Big Sky title was recorded at 3:55.22, while Grosvenor came in second with 3:55.35. Matthew Tex also added support, placing fifth in 3:57.93.
With her sights set on her first Big Sky title, Chantel Jaeger fell short in the 400 but still got her second All-Conference finish, earning the silver medal with 54.29. Overall, it was a huge event for MSU with Hardarson taking fourth (54.93) and Sonia Antar in sixth (55.08).
Michael Tobin had his highest conference finish, placing fifth in the 100 with a lifetime best time of 10.64, picking up four points in MSU’s quest for the Big Sky title. Chris Wilson came in eighth in 11.44.
The trio of Soratos, Grosvenor and Tex returned in the 800 and Soratos picked up his second All-Big Sky finish of the day, coming in third at 1:55.92. Grosvenor came in fourth with a time of 1:56.95, while Tex rounded things out in seventh at 2:02.16.
Lierin Flanagan took fifth in her 800 race, logging a 2:13.25, while Schmitz took eighth.
After Nick Melone’s huge preliminary race in the 400 hurdles, he also ended up with a fifth place finish time of 52.98, not as fast as his lifetime best the night before, but still under the 53 second threshold.
Paige Squire earned her first individual Big Sky honors, after starting the day off with one from the 4×100 relay. She placed third in the 400 hurdles, her best league finish to date, crossing the line in 59.50, her second PR in the event in as many outings.
After a second place finish in the 100, Jaeger used that as motivation for her first Big Sky championship title. She not only won the race, but without the wind rules, it would have been a program record with a time of 23.47.
The 5,000 marked the final individual running event of a very lucrative weekend for the Bobcats and Michael Asay made sure to take advantage. He, too, had his best Big Sky finish, picking up four points in the fifth place position. He recorded a run of 15:23.43. In the women’s race, Jenette Northey had another top-10 finish, coming in seventh in 18:38.65.
But the best was saved for last, of course. The women’s 4×400 relay combined for 3:41.27 which is another program record.
“The women had a great meet, well, both teams did,” said head coach Dale Kennedy. “Going into this, we had some questions about how we’d do but we went above and beyond expectations, showing the true talent and depth. We can leave this meet proud of what we accomplished. It was a hard fight and we represented our University well.”
Also of note were two final awards for Jeff Mohl. His performance over four days gave him the Men’s MVP, as well as tying for the Men’s Outstanding Performer for earning 24 individual points for his team. His awards were repeat accolades from the 2013 indoor championships.
Montana State will leave Flagstaff with four Big Sky titles and 18 All-Big Sky awards.
The meet closes out the season for most. Several will wait to see if they rank among the top-48 in the region in order to qualify for the NCAA West Region Preliminary May 29-June 1, in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
— MSU Sports Information