Griz track hosts Montana Open

MISSOULA — The University of Montana track and field teams will host the three-day Montana Open this week at Dornblaser Field in Missoula.

A women’s heptathlon will be contested Thursday and Friday. The women’s and men’s hammer throw will be held Friday at 3 and 4:45 p.m., respectively. The rest of the meet will take place Saturday, with the field events opening at 10:15 a.m., the running events at 11:15 a.m.

The heptathlon will be a small, four-athlete competition, with events starting at 1 p.m. on Thursday and 2 p.m. on Friday.

Montana will have three freshmen competing in the multi-events: Lakyn Connors, Maggie Hering and Nicole Stroot. An athlete from Carroll will be the fourth competitor.

Stroot, who scored 3,908 points earlier this month in a heptathlon at Montana State, Connors (3,685) and Hering (3,616) will all be aiming for the Big Sky Conference qualifying standard of 4,300. Fourteen Big Sky athletes have already reached the standard this season.

“Our girls need another one, both for the experience and because they need to up their marks to solidify their spots at conference,” UM track and field coach Brian Schweyen said.

Saturday’s events will draw athletes from Montana, Montana State, MSU Billings, Carroll, Great Falls and Rocky Mountain.

All three days of the Montana Open will take place in May, the same month of the Big Sky Conference championships and NCAA West Regional. The former will be held at Flagstaff, Ariz., the latter at Fayetteville, Ark. That means it’s go time.

“We have to remain super focused because conference is coming, and the athletes will have a lot on their plates with finals and some long travel,” Schweyen said.

“So we need to be completely focused on what we’re doing Saturday. It’s an opportunity for us to go out and have our best meet ever. Then we can mentally rest to get ready for conference.”

Montana track and field talking points:

* The Montana women currently have five athletes holding seven marks that rank in the top 48 on the NCAA West Region performance list. Forty-eight in mid-May will be the cutoff to advance to Fayetteville, Ark.

Senior Kourtney Danreuther ranks 27th in the 400-meter hurdles (59.60) and 46th in the 400 meters (54.69), senior Lindsey Hall ranks 14th in the javelin (161-7.5) and 33rd in the 100-meter hurdles (13.70), junior Allie Parks ranks 44th in the steeplechase (10:36.54), sophomore Sammy Evans ranks 35th in the triple jump (40-4.75), and sophomore Stephanie Wells ranks 45th in the javelin (145-3).

* The Griz men have four athletes who rank in the top 48 in the West Region. Senior Keith Webber ranks 27th in the pole vault (17-2.75), senior Lukas Scherer ranks 28th in the javelin (208-11), junior Lee Hardt is tied for 35th in the high jump (6-10.75), and junior Drew Owens ranks 42nd in the 400-meter hurdles (52.43).

* Those athletes hold seven top-ranked marks on the latest Big Sky Conference performance list: Hall in the javelin, Evans in the triple jump, Webber in the pole vault, Scherer in the javelin and Owens in the 400-meter hurdles.

Hall ranks first in the Big Sky in the long jump at 19-7.5, though that performance was wind-aided (+5.0) at Eastern Washington on April 12. Her second-best effort of the season is 18-9.75. Hall’s 19-7.5 would be tied for 31st in the region, but it gets struck from the performance list because of the wind reading.

* Hall remains tied for 10th in the nation in the heptathlon with her school-record score of 5,550 at the Mt. SAC Relays two weeks ago. The multi-events are not competed at the region level. The top 24 athletes at season’s end advance directly to nationals.

* Outside of the 10,000 meters, an event the Montana women have not competed in this season, the Grizzlies have at least one automatic qualifier for the Big Sky Conference championships in every event.

The UM men have an automatic qualifier in 11 of 19 events.

* Butte High graduate Gwenn Abbott is in need of a confidence-building breakthrough in the high jump. The redshirt senior, who has a career best of 5-8.5, has been stuck at 5-5 most of the outdoor season.

* Senior Caitlin Caraway reset her own school record in the hammer throw last Saturday at 183-1. That ranks seventh in the Big Sky and would not be far enough to get her to regionals.

* Look for Lakyn Connors to win the heptathlon. She scored 3,685 points at Montana State in early April, and that came without a score in the javelin. A 100-foot throw, which has been Connors’ average, would have upped her total to just shy of 4,200 points.

* Freshman Reagan Colyer, the Big Sky indoor champion in the 800 meters, did not compete at Montana’s first home meet, the Al Manuel Invitational, because of an injury. She is entered in the 800 and 1,500 meters.

* Kourtney Danreuther will be running the 400-meter hurdles. The Montana record in the event is 58.10, set by Kris Schmitt in 1989. Enough said.

* Same for Lindsey Hall in the 100-meter hurdles. Her season best of 13.70 is pushing hard on Suzanne Krings’ existing record of 13.69 from 2003.

* Senior Kellee Glaus has moved up to No. 3 in the Big Sky in the triple jump with her effort of 38-5.5 at Saturday’s Griz-Cat Dual. That will once again be an event of some serious strength for the Griz women at conference, especially if Hall jumps.

* Sophomore Julia Read will be competing in the 100 and 200 meters Saturday. She was voted the winning performer Tuesday at Griz Got Talent for her musical chops.

* Freshman Dominique Bobo is coming on in the 200 meters. He broke 22 seconds for the first time two weekends ago at Long Beach State’s meet with a time of 21.82. Last Saturday he ran a raw time of 21.61.

* Freshman Jase Buche is ready to break 200 feet in the javelin. He’s gone 194-7, 193-6 and 195-3 the last three weeks, and his 195-3 on Saturday came at less than full strength.

* The UM men’s team has four of the Big Sky’s top hurdlers, and they will be going head to head Saturday: senior Austin Emry and junior Jacob Leininger in the 110-meter hurdles and Drew Owens and sophomore Dylan Reynolds in the 400-meter hurdles.

* Like Abbott in the women’s high jump, Emry needs a big performance to break out of a rut in the high jump. He’s gone 6-6.75 five times this spring, too low for a seven-foot jumper.

* Senior Kaleb Horlick is a threat to make regionals in the pole vault, but he’ll need to replicate the 16-8.75 bar he cleared when he finished second at the Big Sky indoor championships. His best height this spring has been 16-0.75.

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