Grizzlies Abbott, Glaus head to Texas

AUSTIN, Texas — Eleven athletes from the Montana track and field program are in Austin, Texas, and will be competing this week at the NCAA West Regional. The meet is being held Thursday through Saturday at Texas’s Mike A. Myers Stadium.

The purpose of the meet is to determine the top 12 athletes in each event from fields of 48. Combined with the top 12 athletes from the East Regional, which is being held in Greensboro, N.C., this week, the nation’s top 24 athletes will then square off at the NCAA championships in two weeks at Eugene, Ore.

Montana will have athletes competing all three days of the regional. Grizzlies are ranked anywhere from No. 7 (Lindsey Hall in the javelin) to No. 47 (Butte High graduate Gwenn Abbott in the high jump).

It is the largest group Montana has sent to regionals since the Grizzlies had 12 athletes competing in 2003, and the total ranks third this year in the Big Sky Conference behind Northern Arizona’s 18 qualifiers and Sacramento State’s 15.

Temperatures are expected to be in the low 90s all three days of the regional, but that isn’t worrying UM track and field coach Brian Schweyen, who expects to be making travel arrangements for Eugene for a handful of athletes on Monday.

“I absolutely expect to take a group to nationals. I think there are a lot of possibilities,” he says before rattling off nearly every athlete and how each one of them could advance.

“It really comes down to who comes out focused and ready to compete and has confidence off the charts.”

A breakdown of Montana’s excellent 11:

Brandon Forson
* Event: Discus
* When he’s competing: Thursday, 11 a.m. (MT)
* Regional experience: None
* How he got there: Threw a career-best 172-6 at the Big Sky Conference championships to finish second
* Where he ranks: 46th
* The region’s best: Julian Wruck, UCLA (216-8)
* The region’s 12th-ranked athlete: Paul Thomas, Wyoming (189-10)
* UM record in the event: 175-6.5 (Dick Doyle, 1951)
* Forson at a glance: Forson is throwing the most consistently of his short career, having gone between 164-5 and 172-6 the last four meets. He ranked 52nd on the final West Region performance list, but enough athletes weren’t entered in the regional meet that Forson moved up and surprisingly qualified.
* Quoting coach Brian Schweyen: “Brandon was gifted the opportunity to compete at this meet. With his opportunity and the way he’s been throwing and the way he ended the season, I anticipate that he can go in and break the school record and push 180 feet.”

Kourtney Danreuther
* Event: 400-meter hurdles
* When she’s competing: Thursday, 3:30 p.m. (MT); Friday, 6:30 p.m. (MT) — Danreuther is competing in heat 2 of 6 Thursday, with eight athletes in each heat. The top three in each heat plus the next six fastest times advance to Friday. Friday’s national quarterfinal round will feature three heats of eight. The top three in each heat, plus the next three fastest times advance to nationals.
* Regional experience: Third trip, second to compete in the hurdles (ran 400 meters last spring)
* How she got there: Ran a season-best (and altitude-adjusted) 59.43 at the Griz-Cat Dual
* Where she ranks: 34th
* The region’s best: Kori Carter, Stanford (54.21)
* The region’s 12th-ranked athlete: Jesica Ejesieme, Illinois (58.49)
* UM record in the event: 58.10 (Kris Schmidt, 1989)
* Danreuther at a glance: Ran on the high side of 60 seconds through the season’s opening four meets, then broke through with a 59.43 at the Griz-Cat Dual. Has a career best of 59.25.
* Quoting coach Brian Schweyen: “If Kourtney goes in with the mindset that she had in the 4×400 relay at conference, I think she will shock a lot of people.”

Austin Emry
* Event: High jump
* When he’s competing: Thursday, 5 p.m. (MT)
* Regional experience: Third trip, third time competing in the high jump; also competed last year in the long jump
* How he got there: Jumped a career-best 7-0.5 at the Al Manuel Invitational
* Where he ranks: Tied for 16th
* The region’s best: Erik Kynard, Kansas State (7-8)
* The region’s 12th-ranked athlete: Jacorian Duffield, Texas Tech (7-1.5)
* UM record in the event: 7-2.5 (Jas Gill, 2005)
* Emry at a glance: Emry went 7-0.5 at the season-opening Al Manuel Invitational in late March and hasn’t gone higher than 6-8 since. But the decathlete has been able to focus on just one event the last week and a half and is no stranger to the regional scene.
* Quoting coach Brian Schweyen: “I’d like to see Austin go and jump seven feet. If he does and gets excited, there’s no reason he can’t make 7-1 or 7-1.5, and that could get to nationals.”

Lee Hardt
* Event: High jump
* When he’s competing: Thursday, 5 p.m. (MT)
* Regional experience: None
* How he got there: Jumped a career-best 7-1 at the Griz-Cat Dual
* Where he ranks: Tied for 13th
* The region’s best: Erik Kynard, Kansas State (7-8)
* The region’s 12th-ranked athlete: Jacorian Duffield, Texas Tech (7-1.5)
* UM record in the event: 7-2.5 (Jas Gill, 2005)
* Hardt at a glance: Has a good shot at advancing if he can handle the heat of Texas and the heat of the competition in his first trip to regionals. Twice this spring has gone over 7 feet; has gone 6-10 or better at four of six spring meets.
* Quoting coach Brian Schweyen: “Lee should be going in with the mindset that he should be going to nationals. Jumping the way he is, I think it’s a real possibility that he can continue on. I think Lee can go 7-2, and that should get you in.”

Samantha Hodgson
* Event: Discus
* When she’s competing: Friday, 11 a.m. (MT)
* Regional experience: None
* How she got there: Set a huge PR and broke the school record when she threw 168-2 at the Griz-Cat Dual
* Where she ranks: 36th
* The region’s best: Anna Jelmini, Arizona State (198-10)
* The region’s 12th-ranked athlete: Rebecca Hammar, Stanford (179-10)
* UM record in the event: 168-2 >Samantha Hodgson, 2013)
* Hodgson at a glance: Hodgson went 168-2 at the Griz-Cat Dual, but that was an outlier in favorable winds in a solid freshman season. Her second-best mark this season is 152-5.
* Quoting coach Brian Schweyen: “Texas’s facility is going to be great for winds, and Samantha throws a perfect discus to take advantage of winds, so that bodes well for her. It’s going to be a good opportunity for her to push her season best or even better it.”

Gwenn Abbott
* Event: High jump
* When she’s competing: Friday, 5 p.m. (MT)
* Regional experience: None
* How she got there: Jumped a career-best 5-8.5 at the Long Beach State Invitational
* Where she ranks: 47th
* The region’s best: Brigetta Barrett, Arizona (6-6.25)
* The region’s 12th-ranked athlete: Two athletes (5-10.75)
* UM record in the event: 5-10 (Cathy Schwend, 1994)
* Abbott at a glance: Abbott has had the most consistent season of her career. She has gone 5-7 or better five of the last six meets and has taken quality jumps at what would approach the school record.
* Quoting coach Brian Schweyen: “I expect a season-best performance from Gwenn this week. I think she can go in and go 5-9 and push to go 5-10. To be able to go to a meet like that and get a lifetime best would be huge for her for next year.”

Lukas Scherer
* Event: Javelin
* When he’s competing: Saturday, 11 a.m. (MT)
* Regional experience: None
* How he got there: Threw a career-best 217-11 at the Al Manuel Invitational
* Where he ranks: 29th
* The region’s best: Sam Humphreys, Texas A&M (267-0)
* The region’s 12th-ranked athlete: Tyler Renton, Oklahoma (228-6)
* UM record in the event: 227-3 (Dane Brubaker, 2005)
* Scherer at a glance: Scherer threw 217-11 at his first meet in a Montana uniform (after transferring from the Community Colleges of Spokane) at the Al Manuel Invitational. He broke 200 feet again (200-3) at the UNLV Invitational in his second meet but hasn’t gone over 200 feet in competition in well over a month.
* Quoting coach Brian Schweyen: “Lukas has been struggling with his approach, so we changed it last Monday and threw a little bit on Friday with it. His approach is good and his mindset is good, so I think he can go in there and get a lifetime best. If he can throw 225, which he can do, that’s going to be right in there to get to nationals.”

Kellee Glaus
* Event: Triple jump
* When she’s competing: Saturday, 12:30 p.m. (MT)
* Regional experience: None
* How she got there: Went a career-best 41-4.5 at the UNLV Invitational
* Where she ranks: 25th
* The region’s best: Shanieka Thomas, San Diego State (46-5.25)
* The region’s 12th-ranked athlete: Brianna Richardson, Baylor (42-6)
* UM record in the event: 41-0.75 (Renee Dunn, 2003) (Glaus’s jump of 41-4.5 at UNLV that would have broken Dunn’s record was heavily wind-aided)
* Glaus at a glance: After breaking 40 feet for the first time in her career while winning the Big Sky indoor championship in February, Glaus has consistently been over 40 feet during the outdoor season, surpassing the mark at five of seven spring meets. Glaus has won the triple jump at 12 of 14 meets dating back to the start of the indoor season in December.
* Quoting coach Brian Schweyen: “I think Kellee will be our first-time athlete who is the least fazed by what is going on down there. She always competes within herself, but I think she’ll be more excited because of the meet without being nervous. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her go over 41 feet.”

Nycole Devers
* Event: Javelin
* When she’s competing: Saturday, 4 p.m. (MT)
* Regional experience: Second appearance; also competed in 2011
* How she got there: Threw a career-best 149-2 to place sixth at the Big Sky Conference championships
* Where she ranks: 34th
* The region’s best: Brianna Bain, Stanford (183-10)
* The region’s 12th-ranked athlete: Lucija Cvitanovic, SMU (161-5)
* UM record in the event: 168-2 (Lindsey Hall, 2013)
* Devers at a glance: In six events this spring, Devers has three times been in the 140s but has frequently been in the 150s during warm-ups.
* Quoting coach Brian Schweyen: “I think Nycole can go there and have a lifetime-best throw, but she has to compete. Some people in the field are going to throw well, some people won’t throw what they normally would, so if Nycole can be over 160 feet, she could put herself in a really good position to advance.”

Lindsey Hall
* Event: Javelin
* When she’s competing: Saturday, 4 p.m. (MT)
* Regional experience: Third appearance but first to throw the javelin; previous two trips were to compete in the high jump
* How she got there: Threw a career-best and school-record 168-2 to win the Big Sky Conference title
* Where she ranks: 7th
* The region’s best: Brianna Bain, Stanford (183-10)
* The region’s 12th-ranked athlete: Lucija Cvitanovic, SMU (161-5)
* UM record in the event: 168-2 (Lindsey Hall, 2013)
* Hall at a glance: Hall entered the season with a career best in the javelin of 141-3. She blew that away when she went a then school-record 160-4 at the season-opening Al Manuel Invitational. She threw in the 130s and 140s at most of the spring meets before unleashing a 168-2 at the Big Sky championships.
* Quoting coach Brian Schweyen: “Lindsey just has to do what she did at conference, which is to come in confident and be ready to compete. Conference was the first time she’s been at that level of readiness for competition since the first meet of the season. If she repeats that, she can go to nationals.”

Stephanie Wells
* Event: Javelin
* When she’s competing: Saturday, 4 p.m. (MT)
* Regional experience: None
* How she got there: Threw a career-best 155-6 to finish third at the Big Sky Conference championships
* Where she ranks: 22nd
* The region’s best: Brianna Bain, Stanford (183-10)
* The region’s 12th-ranked athlete: Lucija Cvitanovic, SMU (161-5)
* UM record in the event: 168-2 (Lindsey Hall, 2013)
* Wells at a glance: Wells has been Montana’s most consistent javelin thrower this spring, with nothing shorter than 137 feet. She has gone 151-0 and 155-6 her last two times out.
* Quoting coach Brian Schweyen: “Stephanie should be thinking nationals. Her positions aren’t as good as other throwers, but she’s starting to compete, and she’s starting to get more focused. I wouldn’t be one bit surprised to see her pop a big one.”

— UM Sports Information



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