Big Sky Conference

Bobcat men in the lead entering final day of Big Sky Outdoor championships; Montana’s Lillquist wins javelin

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Mason Storm and Caleb Neth set the tone for the Bobcats. Kyle Douglass, Ty Mogan, Noah Martin and Alex Lewis helped carry the momentum for the Montana State men entering the final day of the Big Sky Conference outdoor track & field championships at the University of Idaho in Moscow.

Storm, a senior from Great Falls who won the decathlon at the 2015 outdoor championships and the heptathlon at the 2017 indoor championships, posted the top marks in the first three events of this year’s decathlon and five of the 10 events total to take a first-day lead. Huge marks by Portland State junior Donte Robinson in the pole vault and the javelin thrust him into the league but Storm still managed to finish second with a score of 7,161 points in the last Big Sky outdoor meet of his career. His mark is the fifth-best in MSU history and 30th nationally.

“The multis often set the tone at a championship and these guys really did that,” Montana State head coach Dale Kennedy said. “Both got lifetime bests and I think they did a really great job. (Portland State’s Donte) Robinson just came up with a huge javelin throw (203 feet) that put it out of reach. We can certainly be proud of our kids for what they accomplished.”

Storm’s 2018 Big Sky meet performance easily topped his previous best of 6,586 points he set en route to the outdoor conference title in 2016 as a sophomore.

“I’m extremely happy with it,” Storm said of his decathlon effort. “It was fun to get out here and put together a good multi. It’s something I’ve been trying do for years and I couldn’t ask for a better way to end it.”

Neth, a sophomore from Manhattan, had top five marks in the 100 meters, long jump, 400 meters, pole vault, javelin and the top mark in the discus to take third. The 2-3 finish by the Montana State multi-event standouts gave MSU 14 team points, the most in the team competition entering Thursday’s first full day of action.

“Honestly, I was just blessed to come out here to compete,” Neth said. “I got to compete with Mason and we just talked before we got started that we wanted to stay with each other. We pushed each other and it was great to do this with this being his senior year.”

Montana State senior Kyle Douglass

Douglass, a senior out of Missoula Sentinel and the reigning men’s shot put champion, could not repeat. But he did earn his way to the podium for the fourth time in his decorated career in the event with a second-place finish. His first attempt sailed 56 feet, 5 ¾ inches to earn him three more throws. He scratched his next two before hitting 58 feet, eight inches. After two more scratches and a throw of 59 feet, 7 ¾ inches by Idaho’s Zack Short, Douglass took home silver. More importantly, he kept the Bobcats in the league by scoring eight points for the team.

Martin, a sophomore who won the high jump at his first indoor championships last February and a favorite in the event this week, scored huge points for MSU in the pole vault. The Spokane native vaulted a personal-best 15 feet, 5.5 inches to take fourth, scoring five team points in the process. Weber State junior Trey Deveraux vaulted 16 feet, 1 ¼ inches to win the men’s pole vault.

Mogan, a sophomore from Laurel, threatened his personal best and earned a silver medal in the process by running 9:08.06 in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. MSU junior Anthony Schmaiz ran 9:39.40 to place eighth and pick up a point for the Bobcats. Weber State senior Jordan Cross ran 9:01.49 to run away with the gold.

Weber State’s Keaton Pace threw 188 feet, one inch in the javelin to finish seventh and pick up two points in one of the final scored events of the day. But Lewis, a junior competing in his hometown, nailed a long jump of 24 feet, ¾ of an inch to finish fourth and score five points. Eastern Washington’s Keshun McGee leaped 24 feet, 10 ½ inches to win the men’s long jump.

Southern Utah freshman Aidan Reed ran 30:04.06 in the men’s 10,000 meters final to best senior teammate Matthew Wright by 28.16 seconds to help SUU score 18 points in the final event of Thursday’s action. But MSU freshman Colin Buck crossed the finish line in 31:16.41 to finish seventh and earn two points to give Montana State the team lead entering final day.

MSU has 44 points to sit atop the team standings ahead of Southern Utah’s 41 points, a total also bolstered by junior Skyler Porcaro and sophomore Jeff Rowley’s 2-4 finish in the javelin along with sophomore Michael Finch’s third-place finish in the 3,000 steeplechase. Montana State’s last and only Big Sky team title came in 2005.

Weber State is third with 36 points, flowed by Sac State at 26.5 points. Montana’s men sit in fifth with 25 points.

Montana junior Jensen Lillquist

The Griz men worked their way up to third in the team standings behind 14 points in the javelin, including an individual title by standout junior Jensen Lillquist. The Ellensburg native continued his tremendous spring by throwing 226 feet, five inches, a personal-best that earned him his second outdoor championship of his career. He also claimed the 2016 outdoor javelin title. UM junior Luke Hilmes threw 188-07 to take fifth and score four points for the Griz. MSU freshman Kade Van Elswyk threw 185-02 to take eighth in the javelin.

“He lives and breathes javelin more than anyone I’ve ever coached, and I think it absolutely showed today,” Montana head coach Brian Schweyen said of Lillquist. “He had a great day.”

Lillquist has been dominant all season, now winning the javelin in six of seven meets. His mark during last week’s tune-up (222-2) was a season best by more than 10 feet, but he still needed another 11 feet to reach Porcaro of Southern Utah.

The Thunderbird thrower led through three throws on Thursday, earning a top mark of 214-9 compared to Lillquist’s best throw of 211-10. With each thrower getting three more attempts, Lillquist took advantage.

“After my last warmup throw, I went over to Brian (Schweyen) and he said, ‘That one was a monster.’ Each of the first four throws didn’t quite feel the same,” Lillquist recalled. “I was just a little bit tight and wasn’t moving to my position as well. Going into the fifth and sixth throws, I was just trying to clear my head and get back to that last warmup.”

Montana freshman Brent Yeakey threw a personal best 55 feet, two inches, beating his previous best mark by 14 inches to earn fourth place in the shot put. Griz junior Charlie Bush scored a point with a pole vault of 15 feet, 1 ½ inches to place eighth in the pole vault.

UM’s other five points came from sophomore Josh Riley’s fourth-place finish in the decathlon bolstered by the top mark in the 1,500 meters. He finished with a score of 6,678 points.

Montana sophomore Holly Houston is one of the favorites in the women’s discus at the Big Sky Outdoor Championships/ by UM Athletics

Behind a dominate Thursday from its throwers, the North Dakota women are in full control of the team race. UND has 52 points ahead of Weber State’s 37.5 points, Northern Arizona’s 33 points and Idaho State’s 27. Montana State’s women are fifth with 24 points. Montana’s women are ninth with 13 points.

Montana State sat in a seventh-place tie with Montana entering the final of seven scored events for Thursday, the 10,000 meters. The Bobcats scored their first 13 oints in the 3,000-meter steeplechase finals. Freshman Patricia Carlson, a Great Falls native, finished in second place at 10:32.56. Junior Layne Oliver came in fifth at 10:41.44 and sophomore Madison Liechty was eighth in 10:50.17. Portland State junior Sarah Medved won in 10:30.35.

MSU junior Kelsi Lasota finished second in the longest race of the meet, running the 10K in 35:05.11. Bobcat freshman Samantha Kelderman came in sixth at 35:25.34.

Montana sophomore Holly Houston popped a 159-04 on her final throw of the afternoon to earn third place in the women’s discus. North Dakota junior Molli Detloff threw 164 feet on her fifth throw to earn gold. UND freshman Destinee Harris threw 162-04 to earn second. North Dakota earned an impressive 23 points in the event as sophomore Makayla Keefe threw 148-04 to finish fourth.

The Fighting Hawks also picked up 17 points in the hammer throw as Detloff finished second with a throw of 210 feet, 10 inches. Junior Jessica Drady threw 179-03 for third and Keefe finished fifth at 171-08.

The highlight of the day on the women’s side came when defending hammer champion Brooke Anderson of Northern Arizona broke her own conference record by six feet, six inches with a winning toss of 227 feet, nine inches. That mark not only broke her league record from a year ago but shattered Maureen Griffith’s record of 208-05 set in 2003.

UM freshman Jaree Mane scored the first four points of the meet for the Griz by scoring 4,626 points to finish fifth in the first outdoor championships heptathlon of her career. The Lewistown native had the top marks in the shot put (35-5.75) and the javelin (116-11) while also posting the fourth-best time in the 200 (25.60). Idaho State freshman Ashley Vanvleet had the top mark in the high jump and the second-best marks in the long jump, javelin throw and 800 meters on the way to 5,105 points and the first heptathlon title of her career.

The Grizzlies’ other three points on the women’s side came when sophomore Hannah Coburn secured sixth in the women’s long jump with a leap of 18 feet, 11 ¼ inches on her sixth and final jump of the afternoon. Weber State freshman Cidnee Davies soared 19 feet, 9 ¾ inches on her final attempt to win. Weber also scored big in the high jump as junior Abbigael Brecht hit 5-foot-8 for the win and freshman Eden Richards finished fourth at 5 feet, 5 ¾ inches.

MSU thrower Calvin Root / by Brooks Nuanez

Scoring for the remaining 14 events begins with the men’s hammer throw at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, where MSU senior Calvin Root is the heavy favorite. Martin and Weber State senior Anthony Gregory have the top seeds entering the men’s high jump final, which begins at 11 a.m.

Douglass, the runner-up in the men’s discus each of the last two springs, will look to top the podium for the first time in the event, which begins at 12:30 p.m.

MSU senior Diego Leon ran the sixth-fastest qualifying time in the 1,500 meters (3:57.93) and should be in line to score points. Earlier this spring, he broke Shannon Butler’s school record in the 5,000 meters which has stood since 1991. His top qualifying time of 13:38.89 ranks third in the league behind NAU seniors Andy Trouard (13:21.07) and Matthew Baxter (13:31.00). NAU has 10 of the top 17 qualifying times in the men’s 5K. Mogan has the 10th-best qualifying time and could score for the second straight day.

The Bobcats will have a real chance to score in the men’s 800 final at 4 p.m. Sophomore Cameron Carroll ran 1:53.50 for the top qualifying time, just ahead of freshman Chris Biankini (1:53.75) and junior Samuel Bloom (1:54.18) in the eight-man final heat. Montana State could also separate from the pack in the 400-meter hurdles; senior Christopher Lange (53.80) ran the top time in the prelims and freshman Drake Schneider (54.55) is also in the final.

MSU junior Jadin Casey ran 48.18 seconds the sneak into the eighth spot in the 400 meters. He has placed four times in the event, including a second-place finish at the 2017 indoor championships. Alex Wesley, an all-conference wide receiver for the Northern Colorado football team, is one of the top threats to win the Big Sky title in the 400 and the 200.

Mitch Hornig, a six-time placer in short sprints for MSU, ran 10.67 in the 100 meter prelims, the sixth-best qualifying time. Southern Utah’s Trey James ran the best times in the 100 (10.48) and the 200 (21.16).

MSU sprinter Mitch Hornig/ by Brooks Nuanez

The MSU men will also hope for points from Trevor Simanski in the triple jump and both relay teams. Montana State’s short relay team includes Lewis, Casey and Hornig while it’s long relay team could include any combination of Horning, Lange, Casey, Bloom and Bianchini.

Top potential scorers for the Griz men include sophomore Grant Whitcutt in the high jump, junior Jonathan Eastwood in the 1,500 meters, freshman Jacob Lamb in the 800 and sophomore Chase Armstrong in the 400 hurdles.

Montana State senior Amanda Jaynes has dominated both hurdles races all season,a trend which continued on Thursday. She was the only athlete to break 14 seconds in the 100 hurdles, running 13.94. She was the only runner to break a minute in the 400 hurdles, running 59.54.

MSU’s women will get points from sophomore McKenna Ramsey after she ran the top qualifying time in the 400 (55.42) as well as sophomore Carley Vonheeder, who comes in as the favorite in the javelin. Montana’s Zena Smith, the reigning Big Sky field Athlete of the Week, should also contend in the javelin.

Lasota, sophomore Anna French and freshman Samantha Kelderman could all score for Montana State’s women in the 5,000 meters.

The Griz women, the second-place finisher as a team last spring, could see points from Houston in the shot put, senior Madison Neufeld in the triple jump and have several chances in the women’s 800 with three runners — sophomore Carly Smiedala, freshman Madeline Hamilton and senior Emily Cheroske — in the field.

 

About Colter Nuanez

Colter Nuanez is the co-founder and senior writer for Skyline Sports. After spending six years in the newspaper industry with stops at the Missoulian, the Ellensburg Daily Record and the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the former Washington Newspaper Association Sportswriter of the Year and University of Montana Journalism School graduate ('09) has cultivated a deep passion for sports journalism during his 12 year career covering the Big Sky Conference. In August of 2014, Colter and brother Brooks merged their passions of writing and art to founded Skyline Sports.

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