MSU has banner day in Flagstaff

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The third day of the Big Sky Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships followed the momentum of the previous two days. Two All-Big Sky performances set the tone for the remaining days of the league championship meet, hosted by Northern Arizona in Flagstaff, Arizona, May 14-17.

The field events launched Friday’s festivities and MSU came out firing on all cylinders, ready to give their best individual efforts, in hopes of securing points for the team.

The women’s hammer throw marked the first event of Friday and Jacqueline Verlanic had the highest finish of the three Bobcats competing in the event. Verlanic notched a throw of 160-05 (48.90m), while Madison Wills and Brittnee Grimstad placed 17th and 20th, respectively.

Amber Amsbaugh, who already has four All-Big Sky awards, picked up her fifth in the high jump, finishing as the runner-up with a season-best tying height of 5-07 (1.70m). Carley McCutchen, coming off a second place finish in the heptathlon just the day before, finished eighth with a 5-05 (1.65m) jump, only an inch of her lifetime best. Alisa Gilchrist came in ninth, also measuring 5-05.

The field events continued with the men’s long jump, and momentum still had no interest in slowing down. Like McCutchen, Jeff Mohl already began his Big Sky mission. After earning his second title in the decathlon, he put out another all-conference performance in the long jump, placing third overall, hurling himself to a distance of 23-09.50 (7.25m), just shy of a lifetime best. Also placing was Jake Mushaben, garnering the best Big Sky finish of his career, coming in fourth at 23-04.75 (7.13m). Shae Stein came in 12th with a leap of 21-06 (6.55m).

The third Big Sky finish of the day belonged to Tanner Gambill in the javelin. After leading the league for a weeks earlier this spring, then falling only one spot for the remainder of the season, Gambill maintained that position, earning the silver medal in his signature event.  He stayed above the 200’ mark, uncorking a throw of 202-05 (61.70m). Freshman Ty Bermes finished seventh, picking up two points for MSU, as well.

The fifth field event of Friday featured Mohl yet again. With only two other appearances in the pole vault this season, one of which was just the day before in the decathlon, the Red Lodge, Montana native stayed within the top-five yet again, coming in fourth overall. His height of 16-04.75 (5.00m) tied his overall PR and marked a new best in the outdoor vault. Teammate Ryan Kropp came in eighth, tying his outdoor best at 15-11 (4.85m).

Trevor Gilreath took second in his final shot put championship with an outdoor season best launch of 56-05.75 (17.21m). His silver medal on Friday marks his sixth appearance on the All-Big Sky list. He has never placed lower than third in the outdoor shot put.

McCutchen had one more event on her schedule, taking fifth in the long jump. In addition to her points, she picked up one final lifetime best with a leap of 18-05.75 (5.63m).

The men’s steeplechase kicked off the track events and Trevor Polson clocked a 9:44.73 and his highest Big Sky finish to date, placing fourth overall. In the women’s race, freshman Jenette Northey, who has been a standout from the start of her collegiate career, had her best Big Sky performance, earning a silver medal with a time of 11:01.41, only three seconds behind first place. Heather Demorest, who holds the program in the event and held the fastest time entering the meet, came in fourth, crossing the finish line 11:10.05.

While no Bobcats advanced to the finals, two out of three runners earned lifetime bests in the short hurdles. Paige Squire placed 11th overall with a time of 14.12, followed by McCutchen in 12th at 14.20. Chelsea Bourque rounded out the MSU competitors, taking 19th place (14.85).

Rory Bauer fared similarly in the 400, recording a PR time, but failing to make it out of prelims. The junior transfer crossed the line in ninth, missing finals by .33 seconds.

However, in the women’s 400, Chantel Jaeger put all her nerves aside and came out with a lifetime best time, as well as a the top seed headed into Saturday’s final. She clocked a time of 53.77, besting her previous PR of 55.00. Her teammates, Iris Hardarson and Sonia Antar were on board for another day to compete, too. Hardarson got her own life best, taking the fifth seed with 54.96. Antar made it a sweep in terms of PRs, earning the sixth fastest time for the final recording a 55.09.

Both Bobcats advanced in the men’s 100 when Chris Wilson won his heat for the third best time in prelims, as well as his fastest time clocking 10.52. Michael Tobin was on board with Wilson, taking third in his heat, with yet another PR of 10.63.

Unfortunately, Wilson and Tobin lost the race against the clock in the 200 and will not compete in Saturday’s final.

Conversely, Jaeger had a near repeat performance in her 200 prelim, again with the top time in the field, as well as an unadjusted PR of 24.12.

Squire sought different results in the 400 hurdles and was certainly successful. Her time of 59.61 is the second fastest time after Friday’s preliminary. One of the best surprises of the evening was in the men’s 400 hurdles. Nick Melone, in his final season of competition, had the eighth seed coming into Friday’s race. He now enters Saturday with the best time for the finals. He won his heat in a lifetime best 52.28, more than one second faster than his previous PR.

Both 800 races continued to keep things in favor of the Blue and Gold. Kaylee Schmitz won her heat in 2:13.46, while Lierin Flanagan grabbed the seven spot for Saturday’s final. Pacing themselves to prep for Saturday, Cristian Soratos and Matthew Tex took first and second, respectively in the first heat to secure their place in the finals. Grant Grosvenor also won his heat in similar fashion. Tex won the 800 in 2013 while Grosvenor was the 2012 champion.

“All that’s left is the last day,” said head coach Dale Kennedy. “We’ve set ourselves up well for tomorrow and saw some really fantastic performances today. Any stumbling blocks we’ve had along the way are disappearing and our success is in our control.”

The final day of competition is set to begin at 11 a.m. (MDT) with the hammer throw and noon on the track.

— MSU Sports Information

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