Big Sky Conference

Bobcats ready for Big Sky outdoor championships

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BOZEMAN, Mont. – Montana State makes its way to Moscow, Idaho, for the 2018 Big Sky Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships which begin on Tuesday at Idaho’s Dan O’Brien Track and Field Complex.

The Bobcats begin action at the Big Sky meet with the men’s decathlon and women’s heptathlon starting at 11 a.m. MDT on Tuesday. The final five events in the decathlon and three events in the heptathlon take place on Wednesday.

A majority of events at the Big Sky Conference Championships commence on Thursday with the women’s hammer throw opening the field events portion of the meet at 11 a.m. while running events start at 2:30 p.m. The final day of the meet gets going with field events at 10 a.m. on Friday followed by running events at 3 p.m.


“I think we’ll be really representative and competitive as a team on both sides of it,” Montana State head coach Dale Kennedy said. “We should be somewhat more competitive on the men’s side and we’ve kind of known that all along. Certainly, our women’s team is not devoid of some shining moments that are likely to happen.”

The Bobcats were polled before the season began to finish fourth and fifth at the conference championship in the men’s and women’s competitions, respectively. But, a strong outdoor campaign has MSU in the crop of teams that have an opportunity to contend for a Big Sky title.

Northern Arizona, the preseason pick to win both conference championships, is again the favorite based off the Big Sky performance list and USTFCCCA Region Rankings. The USTFCCCA takes into account each region’s top performers from each team.

Montana State’s men’s squad is narrowly behind NAU based off the regional index. While NAU sits at seventh with 390.43 points, MSU is eighth in the Mountain Region with 343.44 points. Southern Utah is the closest team to the two with 291.10 points and Sacramento State has a 195.84 total in the West Region. That puts the Bobcat men in prime position to battle for the Big Sky trophy.

The MSU women will participate in a competitive field with the Lumberjacks looking to complete a three-peat. NAU is currently sixth in the Mountain Region with an index of 364.96 and MSU is next in line among Big Sky schools at 12th with 207.75 points. Sacramento State, Weber State, Eastern Washington and Southern Utah are all expected to be in the hunt at the top of the conference standings.

“That might be what could be expected in terms of team outcome,” Kennedy said. “However, it never comes out exactly like it. We’ll know more when we see the performance list to see who entered what event.”

Montana State hurdler Amanda Jaynes/by MSU Communications

Individual and team aspects will be on the minds of the student-athletes that arrive on the scene in Moscow this week.

The Bobcats will be represented by multiple athletes that have experienced success already this outdoor season. Eighteen members of the MSU track and field program have altered the Bobcats’ all-time top 10 charts, with school records set by Diego Leon and Amanda Jaynes this campaign. Kelsi Lasota, Anna French and Trisha Carlson moved all the way up to the No. 2 spot in an event during their opening season for the Bobcat women, while Kyle Douglass and Alex Lewis also own the second-best mark in one event for the men’s team.

Beyond the Big Sky Conference Championships, the Bobcats also have the NCAA West Preliminary Round to look forward to from May 24-26 in Sacramento, Calif.

Athletes with a top 48 mark in each event are invited to compete for an opportunity to qualify for the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon. Montana State currently has 11 that would make the cut after the Tom Gage Classic in Missoula that closed out the regular season, but several Bobcats will need solid performances at the Big Sky meet to keep the possibility open for a spot.

“We have some kids that are down on the bubble that are just in the 40s in the top 48 that I know will be trying to battle their way up a little higher to get into the NCAA First Round,” Kennedy said. “We made a big step at the Tom Gage Classic to get some kids into the top 48 that didn’t appear on that before.”

MSU has plenty of motivation going into the Big Sky Conference Championships.

Montana State senior Diego Leon broke Shannon Butler’s 28-year-old school record in the 5,000 meters earlier this spring/ by MSU athletics

The Bobcats currently have five men and five women that are in line for all-conference accolades based off the Big Sky performance list. A total of 27 athletes are among the top eight in at least one event in the Big Sky, with those finishers at the Big Sky meet scoring points towards the team total, and 17 of those represented by the MSU men’s team.

Much of that individual success comes from the Bobcats’ recent meets. MSU had multiple standout individual performances in California at the Mt. SAC Relays, Pacific Coast Intercollegiate and Beach Invitational, then returned to the Treasure State to complete a Cat-Griz sweep over Montana. MSU’s tune-up at the Tom Gage Classic over the weekend has the Bobcats ready for the conference championships over the next four days.

“It was a great meet in that regard,” Kennedy said of MSU being prepped for the week ahead. “It kind of indicates that we’re really ready for the conference championship. I think that across the board. We didn’t lose anybody to injuries and we’re pretty excited about the possibilities.

“Certainly, our guys have not given up on the idea that it would be possible to upset Northern Arizona. We’ll need some help along the way.”

Live results for the Big Sky Conference Championships will be available throughout the meet on FinishedResults.com and a link can be found on the MSU team’s schedule page at msubobcats.com. A live stream of the meet can be seen on WatchBigSky.com and on the PlutoTV app. The Championship Central hub online is provided by meet host Idaho.

Press release written by Andrew Pedersen, MSU athletics. All Rights Reserved. 

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