BOZEMAN — With everything on the line for one final chance to run fast, jump high and throw far, the Montana State Track and Field team rose to the occasion. With just days before the Big Sky Indoor Track and Field Championships, the Bobcats capitalized on the opportunity before them and gathered new automatic qualifiers and almost a countless number of season and lifetime best performances at the Bobcat Open on Friday in Worthington Arena.
The men’s shot put kicked off the regular season finale with three Bobcats in the top four spots. Trevor Gilreath kept his win streak alive with his fifth consecutive gold this season in the shot put. Gilreath threw a distance of 16.98m (55-08.50). David Phillips earned second place with a season best throw of 16.49m (54-01.25). Calvin Root placed fourth about a foot shy of his best with 14.56m (47-09.25).
Kristi VandeBergh notched her fourth gold medal of the season in the shot put, winning the event in 13.97m (45-10.00). Sarah McGree placed fourth but with an impressive distance improvement to get a lifetime best of 12.60m (41-04.25). The Butte High graduate’s previous best was 12.21m, set back in the outdoor season of 2011.
In the high jump, Jordan Franklin improved from his first week of competition with a height of 1.90m (6-02.75) after jumping 1.85m one week earlier. Powhattan Williamson placed fifth with 1.80m (5-10.75).
The Bobcats were represented well in the women’s high jump, with Amber Amsbaugh’s fifth win in a row. She maxed out at 1.70m (5-07.00). Alisa Gilchrist took third at her season-best height of 1.65m (5-05.00) Adess Durglo came in fourth.
The women’s long jump saw one medal and a few season best jumps. McGree was the highest finishing Bobcat, placing second with an indoor-best jump of 5.49m (18-00.25). Carley McCutchen came in fourth in 4.92m (16-01.75), followed by Kortnee Barrett in sixth with 4.92m (16-01.75). Emily Reddish placed just behind her in seventh with a season best 4.76m (15-07.50). Trina Heide rounded out the MSU competitors in ninth in 4.44m (14-07.00).
A Montana State sweep took place in the men’s long jump with Jeff Mohl leading the way on a very busy night for the Red Lodge, Mont. native. Mohl won the event with a personal best distance of 7.26m (23-10.00). Shae Stein, who has seen steady improvement over the course of his first season at MSU, placed second with a huge showing, finishing with a career-best 6.92m (22-08.50), giving him an automatic qualifier in the event. His previous best measured 21-05.50. Third place also successfully sough a career-best with Jake Mushaben’s leap of 6.82m (22-04.50). Mushaben’s jump could keep him in the top-16 in the Big Sky to earn a berth to the championship meet.
Kyler Felton earned second in the triple jump with a season-best launch of 13.44m.
Ryan Kropp placed second in the pole vault with a season best launch of 4.85m (15-11.00). Mohl came in fourth amidst competing in the hurdles and the long jump, with a height of 15-11.00, just shy of his lifetime best, just .05m off. Pow Williamson, also in the middle of multiple events, placed sixth with a lifetime best height of 4.10m (13-05.25).
Libby Madison won the women’s pole vault, marking her first collegiate individual win. Her height of 3.60m (11.09.75) ties a lifetime best. Rebekka Chambers took third with 3.45m.
Arguably the highlight of the field events and potentially the meet was the show that MSU put in the men’s weight throw. Already a stacked group of student-athletes, the Bobcats showed their dominance with a sweep of the top five places in the event. David Phillips uncorked a personal record with 20.38m (66-10.50), keeping him second in the Bobcat record books, but hopefully moving him up the national descending order list. Butte Central grad Sean Ferriter placed second, also with a PR, measuring 17.60m (57-09.00). In a last-chance situation, Calvin Root and Derek Marsh rose to the occasion, both earning berths to their first indoor conference championship. Root, a freshman, finished with a PR 17.09m (56-01.00) and third place, while Marsh, a junior, punched his ticket with 17.02m (55-10.25). Eddie Stevenson rounded out the top-five with 16.15m (53-00.00).
In the final event of the evening, Mary Koppy earned a lifetime best throw in the weight throw with 14.71m (48-03.25). Fellow thrower, Madison Wills, placed just one spot behind Koppy, taking fifth, also with a PR throw. Wills finished with 14.27m (46-10.00). Not to be outdone, taking sixth place, Britnee Grimstad got a best as well, finishing with a distance of 12.54m (41-01.75).
The track events also saw a lot notable performances. Beginning with the women’s 55 hurdles, Katie Niemeir earned a bronze medal with a time of 8.24. McCutchen came in fourth, tying her season and lifetime best in 8.25. Chelsea Bourque hurried herself to a lifetime best, as well, with a time of 8.42 and a fifth-place finish.
Mohl and crew accomplished a second sweep of the night in the men’s hurdles with Mohl taking his second gold of the night with a time of 7.71, just .01 off of his lifetime best, set in 2012. Mohl’s performance marks his fifth automatic qualifier for the championship meet. Slater Powell came in second in 7.76, tying his season-best. Clocking in at 7.88 for third place was Pow Williamson.
Bourque took second in the 55, turning around and getting right back on the track after the hurdles with a time of 7.39. In the men’s version, Chris Wilson answered with his win in the short sprint this season with a season-best 6.41 seconds. Teammate Michael Tobin crossed in third in 6.57.
In the men’s mile, Trevor Polson went for the come-from-behind win and added another event to his repertoire for the Big Sky Meet. His time of 4:15.28 is an automatic qualifier, even before the altitude adjustment. Polson already punched his ticket in the 3,000 and 5,000. Seth Garbett placed fifth but did log a lifetime best after the altitude adjustment. His unadjusted time was 4:25.43.
Only in her third meet of the season, Sonia Antar nabbed her first Big Sky auto-qualifier when she placed first in the 400 in 56.75. Classmate Chantel Jaeger took third in 57.60. Paige Squire notched a season best and a fifth place spot with a time of 59.43.
Lierin Flanagan took an individual win in the 800, crossing the line in 2:17.05, followed by Iris Hardarson in 2:17.89. Grant Grosvenor who has yet to place lower than first in the 800 this season, notched one more victory with a time of 1:50.93. Cristian Soratos took second in 1:51.04. Matthew Tex and Marcus Swan did not place but did get season-best times and automatic qualifiers. Tex crossed in 1:53.71, while Swan clocked in at 1:54.67 but with the altitude adjustment, he should make the Big Sky cut.
In the final running event of the night, Heather Demorest came up huge in the 3,000. While already qualified in the event, the Darby, Mont. native pushed herself to a 9:55.10 finish and a first-place finish. With the altitude adjustment, her time becomes around the 9:40 mark signifying a huge drop from her previous best of 9:59.87.
“We achieved several objectives tonight,” said head coach Dale Kennedy. “We got qualifiers, and saw several improved performances. I was really pleased how nearly every event had some sort of shining moment. This meet should give us the momentum we’re seeking for the Big Sky meet.”
Montana State will now wait out the remainder of the weekend before finalizing who will make the rosters for the Big Sky Championships, with each team allowed a maximum 22 student-athletes. While those who met the automatic times, heights or distances will get a spot on the roster, several Bobcats have the chance to qualify by way of finishing in the top-16 rankings in their event.
The Big Sky Indoor Track and Field Championships will take place in Bozeman, beginning Thursday, Feb. 21 in Worthington Arena. For complete information regarding event schedule, tickets and more, go to www.msubobcats.com/bigskytf.
— MSU Sports Information