Big Sky Conference

MSU’s Douglass, Jaynes headed to Outdoor National meet


SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Montana State seniors Kyle Douglass and Amanda Jaynes are among 14 Big Sky Conference athletes who punched their tickets to the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship meet in Eugene, Oregon with standout performances at the NCAA West Regional preliminary in Sacramento over the weekend.

Douglass was the first Bobcat to qualify. The Missoula native competed in the third heat of the men’s discus. Douglass’s top throw came on his second attempt and his toss of 182 feet, 5 inches was his fifth farthest as a Bobcat. Douglass placed among the top 12 competitors in ninth overall, advancing him to the national meet for the first time in his collegiate career.

 “That was really special to watch,” Montana State head coach Dale Kennedy said. “It was nerve wracking. He fouled on his first throw, then got a pretty good second throw of 182-05. He sat in sixth for awhile and started to move down the list, but it got down to three throwers left and we realized he’s going no matter what they do. That was a great way to kick the day off.”

Douglass is the first MSU discus thrower to qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Championships since 2005 when Josh Henigman finished 14th. He’s the third Bobcat to advance to the meet in the discus with Lance Deal the first to do so in 1984 when he placed eighth.

“(Throws coach) Jen Allen really prepared Kyle for a difficult situation in the field events,” Kennedy said. “Coming in, you know you only get three throws instead of six like most meets. They rehearsed this scenario coming into the meet and it really paid off.”

Jaynes continued a big day for the Bobcats on the track on Friday. The Missoula Sentinel High graduate began her day with a 39th-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles, but followed it with her quarterfinal appearance in the third heat of the 400 hurdles.

“Amanda had a tough situation starting off her day,” Kennedy said. “A runner ended up in her lane during the 100 hurdles and it was chaos. She was shaken, but she showed up and as the typical Amanda, she’s just so competitive and didn’t give up.”

Needing to either finish top three in her heat or top a non-automatic qualifying time of 58.32 seconds, Jaynes took fifth in her heat by crossing the line in 58.22 seconds. Jaynes’s mark was the third and final time to qualify for the NCAA Championships outside of the automatic heat qualifiers as she placed 10th overall.

“She battled her way through the race,” Kennedy said. “It wasn’t pretty technically throughout, but she got it figured out and was able to advance. It’s exciting to have her move on. It’s been a dream of hers to get to the NCAA Championships and she made it happen.”

Jaynes is the 10th Montana State female to qualify for the NCAA outdoor meet and the second to advance to Eugene in the 400 hurdles. Paige Squire took 18th in the event in 2015.

Southern Utah sophomore Tre James

Douglass and Jaynes were among five more Big Sky athletes punched their tickets to Eugene. In all, there will be 14 athletes representing the Big Sky Conference in Eugene.

The day began with the women’s hammer throw. Northern Arizona’s Brooke Andersen came in as the second-best hammer thrower in the nation and won the West Preliminary with a mark of 71.26m (233-9). The returning All-American will enter the championship field as the top-ranked thrower after Arizona State’s Maggie Ewen fouled out in today’s competition.

Northern Arizona’s freshman Luis Grijalva was the first Big Sky athlete of the day in the running events to punch a ticket to Eugene after a ninth-place showing and a 3:43.58 time in the men’s 1,500m.

Southern Utah’s Tre James, the Big Sky Most Valuable Athlete and Outstanding Performer, cruised into Eugene with a time of 20.79 in the 200. James placed 10th in the event and will be going to the NCAA finals for the first time in his career. It is also the first time a Big Sky male athlete has qualified in the 200 since 2008.

Northern Arizona’s Andy Trouard proved he belongs in Eugene after a runner-up finish in the men’s 5,000m and a time of 13:47.86. Closing out the night and the NCAA qualifiers from the Big Sky was Sacramento State’s Darius Armstead in the men’s triple jump. Armstead finished fourth with a mark of 15.99m (52-5.50)

The NCAA Championship field in the men’s 400m is also set and will feature Big Sky athlete and Northern Colorado Bear Alex Wesley. Wesley qualified for the NCAA finals by finishing 10th with a time of 46.13, which is the ninth-best time in Big Sky history. The three-time Big Sky gold medalist will be making his first trip to the NCAA outdoor meet.

Out of the three Big Sky athletes competing in the women’s 800m, Northern Arizona’s Ashley Taylor was the only one that advanced all the way to Eugene. Her time of 2:03.72 placed her eighth overall in the event. Taylor’s time set a school record and ranks second all-time in Big Sky history.

Weber State’s Jordan Cross is nationals bound after a seventh-place showing in the men’s steeplechase (8:41.72).

Montana State sophomore Noah Martin

On Saturday, Douglass competed in the second heat of the men’s shot put. Douglass placed 35th overall in the event with his third throw traveling 56 feet, 8.50 inches. The MSU senior finished his shot put tenure as a Bobcat second all-time in the event with his personal-best mark of 60-01.25 during the 2018 season.

Sophomore Noah Martin advanced to a jump off but fell short of a bid to Eugene in the men’s high jump. Martin cleared heights of 6-07, 6-09 and 6-11 on his first attempts. The Spokane, Wash., native was unable to clear 7-1 and officially tied for 10th overall. However, Martin was tied with eight other competitors and moved into a jump off for the final three qualifying spots to the NCAA national meet.

Nebraska’s Landon Bartel was the lone athlete to clear 7-1 on the first jump to advance. Five of the remaining seven jumpers, including Martin, eventually cleared 6-11 to raise the bar to 7-00.50. Southern California’s Earnie Sears and UTSA’s Ty Anderson were able to make the mark on their tries to take the final two qualifying positions to advance to Eugene.

MSU senior Diego was the final Bobcat to appear at the West Preliminaries. Leon raced in the first heat of the men’s 5,000-meter run. He moved up to as high as 11th place in the heat and was in 12th with three laps to go while just a second off the qualifying pace. Leon eventually finished 16th in the heat, and 31st overall, with a time of 14 minutes, 16.48 seconds. It was Leon’s third-fastest 5,000 of his collegiate career – an event that he serves as the program record holder in.

For the second time, Jensen Lillquist experienced heartache at NCAA Regionals, coming up painfully short. The junior javelin thrower had a strong performance with a top throw of 216-1. For the second time, though, Lillquist placed 14thout of 48 throwers, just missing the top-12 cut to advance to nationals.

Through two flights – 32 of 48 throwers – Lillquist’s top mark would have ranked fifth, but nine of the 12 qualifiers came from his final flight. He improved his marks throughout his three attempts, moving from 213-11 to 216-1. He entered the meet 16th.

After redshirting in 2017, Lillquist had a superb junior campaign, winning his second individual Big Sky Conference title in the javelin and advancing to NCAA Regionals for the third time. His PR of 226-5, which was set earlier this month at the Big Sky Championships, is seven inches shy of a school record, which he will aim to eclipse during his senior season.

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