BOZEMAN —One day after winning the pentathlon, Montana sophomore Erika McLeod added another title when she won the long jump Friday on day two of the Big Sky Conference indoor track and field championships at Brick Breeden Fieldhouse.
Sparked by McLeod’s production and a big day in the jumps, the Montana women, with 35 points, are sitting in second place behind Sacramento State, which has 44 as the meet now turns toward Saturday and its 21 scoring events.
The Montana men had four scoring performances Friday and are in 10th place with 14 points. Northern Arizona leads the men’s race with 47 points.
McLeod, a Butte High graduate who has been on a three-week tear, won Friday’s long jump at a career-best distance of 19-3.25. She was the only athlete to jump farther than 19 feet.
Junior McKenzie Weber made it 13 points for Montana in the event when she finished sixth with a career-best jump of 18-6.
The Grizzlies scored six points in the high jump, with junior Lakyn Connors finishing fifth at 5-4.25 and sophomore Maddie Taylor tying for sixth at 5-2.25.
Montana’s other point on day two came from sophomore Hana Feilzer, who finished better than her pre-championships ranking in the weight throw. Her career-best throw of 57-11.75, which upped her school record, was good for eighth place.
Sophomore Matt Quist, with six points from a third-place finish in the high jump, was the top point producer for the men’s team on Friday.
Quist, who cleared 6-10.75, and Weber State’s Anthony Gregory, who finished second at the same height, were tied atop the Big Sky performance list entering the championships, but North Dakota’s Nolan Hovland knocked them both down a spot by clearing 6-11.75 for the victory.
Freshman Davon Collins finished sixth in the long jump at 23-2, his first time this season clearing 23 feet, and sophomore Charlie Bush wrapped up the heptathlon in seventh place. He finished with a career-best score of 4,708.
Montana’s other points came in the distance medley relay, where three freshmen helped the Grizzlies run a sixth-place time of 10:29.58.
Freshman Emmette Dustybull ran the opening 1,200 meters. He handed off to senior Andrew Monaco for the 400 meters, who passed the baton to freshman Jonathan Eastwood for the 800. Freshman Gavin Hasty ran the closing leg, the 1,600 meters.
The rest of Friday was about qualifying for Saturday’s finals, and Montana advanced at least one athlete in every event the Grizzlies had an entry.
The best preliminary event for the team was the women’s 60-meter hurdles, where Stroot, who, like McLeod, is emerging as a star, chopped another chunk off her PR with an 8.73, the day’s third-fastest time. Sophomore Morgan Sulser, who finished 10th, also advanced with a time of 8.90.
Freshman Taylor Trollope advanced in the men’s hurdles, finishing seventh in a time of 8.32 that matched his season best.
McLeod and redshirt freshman Sterling Reneau moved on in the 400 meters, McLeod finishing ninth in 57.66, Reneau third in 49.25, and sophomores Alanna Vann and Alex Mustard both qualified in the 60 meters. Vann tied for ninth in a career-best time of 7.77, Mustard ran a career-best 6.92 to finish ninth.
Montana had five of the 18 sprinters in the men’s 200 meters, including three in the top eight, but only junior Dominique Bobo will race on Saturday.
Bobo, who had the Big Sky’s top seed time of 21.43, ran an unadjusted 22.03 to finish third. Southern Utah’s Justin Lewis, at 21.84, had the fastest time in the prelims. Northern Arizona’s James Fisher, last year’s indoor and outdoor champion, ran a 21.96.
Saturday will feature the final five field events, highlighted for Montana by the women’s shot put and junior Samantha Hodgson, the Big Sky’s top-ranked thrower. There will be 16 track events, including the men’s 200 meters and Bobo’s quest for his first Big Sky title.
— Montana Sports Information