MISSOULA — The Montana track and field teams will continue their outdoor season this week at the three-day Montana State Invitational at Bozeman.
The main meet will take place Saturday, beginning at 11 a.m. with the field events and 11:30 a.m. with the running events. It will be preceded Thursday and Friday by a women’s heptathlon and men’s decathlon.
The Grizzlies will not have any decathletes but will have five heptathletes competing: redshirt senior Lindsey Hall, redshirt junior Shayle Dezellem and freshmen Lakyn Connors, Maggie Hering and Nicole Stroot.
Hall, who made nationals in the multi-events as a true sophomore in 2011, is the Montana record-holder in the heptathlon (5,360 points) and the 2011 Big Sky Conference champion.
Dezellem finished seventh at the Big Sky indoor championships in the pentathlon, Stroot 13th.
“That training group is a good mix,” UM coach Brian Schweyen said. “We have the young kids who can learn from the older ones.”
Hall won her third Big Sky pentathlon title in February at Pocatello, Idaho, and once again she’ll be tested by Southern Utah senior Shaye Maurer-Springall if Hall wants to add heptathlon title No. 2 next month at Flagstaff, Ariz.
Maurer-Springall, who Hall beat by 40 points to win the Big Sky pentathlon in February, scored 5,454 points last week at the UC Riverside Spring Track Classic and currently ranks seventh in the nation.
Hall will compete in the heptathlon this week, then again, along with Dezellem, in two weeks at Azusa Pacific in Azusa, Calif., as part of the Mt. SAC Relays.
If Hall is one of the nation’s top 24 heptathletes at season’s end, she will make a return trip to nationals, which will held in June at Eugene, Ore.
Montana opened its outdoor season last Friday and Saturday at the Al Manuel Invitational at Dornblaser Field in Missoula.
Montana, which was coming off third-place finishes for both teams at the Big Sky indoor championships just four weeks earlier, was good but not great at its season opener, but cold, wet weather played a role in the teams’ performances.
“The weather was not great, and just being out there was pretty miserable,” Schweyen said. “There was nothing spectacular and nothing horrible, just some good, solid marks.
“There is a lot more there for us to get, and if the weather had cooperated, I think we may have seen some of those marks.”
The Montana women swept both Eastern Washington and Montana State in scored duals. The Griz men defeated the Eagles and lost to the Bobcats.
Montana picked up 11 Big Sky Conference qualifications from nine athletes in 10 events on the women’s team and eight qualifications from eight athletes in five events on the men’s team.
Hall posted qualifying marks in the 100-meter hurdles (altitude-adjusted 14.35), high jump (5-5) and long jump (18-7.75).
The Grizzlies had double qualifiers in the 5,000 meters (Sarah Hastings/Keli Dennehy), 400-meter hurdles (Drew Owens/Dylan Reynolds), high jump (Lee Hardt/Austin Emry) and pole vault (Keith Webber/Kaleb Horlick).
Montana will compete next week at Cheney, Wash., in a dual against Eastern Washington, then head to California for four days of events at the Mt. SAC Relays and Long Beach Invitational.
“I think things will keep getting better as we go, and marks across the board are going to be improved,” Schweyen said.
“I want to come out of Mt. SAC and Long Beach with conference-type marks. And I don’t mean conference-qualifying marks. I mean the kind of marks you would see at the conference championship.”
— Montana Sports Information