Big Sky Conference

Four Big Sky athletes advance to NCAA Championship meet


SACRAMENTO, Calif.. (May 24, 2018) – On the first day of track & field action at the NCAA Outdoor West Preliminaries at Hornet Stadium, four Big Sky athletes qualified for the NCAA finals in Eugene, Ore.

Coming into the race ranked 19th in the country, Southern Utah’s Mike Tate became Eugene bound after a second-place finish in the men’s 10,000m with a time of 29:14.90.

Shortly behind Tate, was Northern Arizona’s dynamic duo of senior Matt Baxter and sophomore Tyler Day. Baxter placed fifth (29:15.22), while Day placed sixth (29:15.25). Baxter will look to become a two-time All American in the outdoor 10,000m after he finished seventh overall at last year’s national championships. With his sixth-place finish, Day will make his first outdoor trip to the NCAA finals.

Montana State hurdler Amanda Jaynes/by MSU Communications

Northern Arizona’s sophomore Helena Mcleod, a Big Sky silver medalist, was the only Big Sky female to punch her ticket to Eugene during the first day of preliminary competition. McLeod qualified in the long jump with a distance of 6.01m (19-8.75).

A number of Big Sky athletes took another step towards Eugene by advancing out of the opening rounds in their respective events. These individuals include Montana State’s Amanda Jaynes (9th, 400m Hurdles – 58.33), Northern Colorado’s Cammy Sargent (22nd, 800m – 2:08.41), Northern Arizona’s Ashley Taylor (5th, 800m – 2:06.64), Maggie Carruth (10th, 800m – 2:07.19) Nicole Fotinos (12th, 400m -53.27) and Jasmine Malone (15th, 400m 53.34).

On the men’s side, Eastern Washington’s Jeremy VanAssche (18th, 100m – 10.37), Southern Utah’s Tre James (18th, 100m – 10.37), Northern Colorado’s Alex Wesley (12th, 400m – 46.70), and NAU’s Luis Grijalva (41st, 1,500m – 4:01.91) all moved on to the next round as well.

Three of Montana’s four regional qualifiers and six of Montana State’s 11 qualifiers, including Jaynes, competed on Friday. The top performance came from Smith in the women’s javelin. The sophomore from Corvallis threw a personal-best 159 feet, eight inches to finish 16th, missing the top 12 required to advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships by three feet.

“All of the credit goes to Zena,” head coach Brian Schweyen said. “She came and was ready to compete. She had great warmups and great throws. I’m really proud of her, because even though it wasn’t quite enough, she had her best day without a doubt.

“This is probably the strongest the region has ever been in the javelin. It’s unfortunate for Zena, because she performed really well, but I think it will motivate her moving forward and she’ll come out and have another great meet next year.”

Montana State junior Kelsi Lasota placed 22nd in the women’s 10,000 meters, running a time of 33:47.95. MSU senior Calvin Root capped his career with a 24th-place finish in the men’s hammer throw with a heave of 202-04. MSU sophomore Carley Vonheeder, a Plains native, threw 143-01 to take 29th in the women’s javelin. MSU junior Alex Lewis leaped 23 feet, 8.75 inches in the men’s long jump to take 34th. Tiffany Shearman, a sophomore from Bozeman, threw the javelin 131 feet to place 45th.

Montana’s Carly Smiedala, a sophomore from Helena who won the Big Sky title in the women’s 800, ran 2:09.20 to take 28th on Thursday evening. Jane Booth, a sophomore from Corvallis, jumped 5-foot-7 to take 34th in the women’s high jump.

West Preliminary action will continue at Hornet Stadium tomorrow at 12 p.m. (PT).

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 13-year career covering the Big Sky Conference. In August of 2014, Colter and brother Brooks merged their passions of writing and art to found Skyline Sports.

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