Mason Storm’s strong finish gave Montana State the start it wanted in the 2016 Big Sky Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Storm capped the best 1500 meters of his outdoor season – 4:39.22 – with a strong 52 seconds on the final 300 m to win the decathlon’s final event, boosting him from fourth place after nine events to his first conference title. The sophomore from Great Falls CM Russell becomes the third Bobcat in the past five seasons, and seventh all-time, to win the Big Sky decathlon.
“As always the multi(-event) kids set the tone for the meet for us,” said long-time Bobcat coach Dale Kennedy. “Mason ran with his head for the first 1200 meters then with his heart, and it was a fantastic race. Dalen Hargett finished third (in the decathlon) and Danielle Muri finished second in the heptathlon to get us off to a great start and create a ton of excitement for both teams.”
MSU multi-events coach Tom Eitel called Storm’s race a brilliant execution of the game plan. “They try to pace the first 1200 (meters) then blast the last three (hundred),” he said. “A lot of times in the multis those guys get out away too fast, but (Storm and Hargett) stayed on pace. In the last 300 you just run as hard as you can and pass as many as you can, and they did.”
Storm was pleased with his time in the 1500. “It might have gone better,” he said. “I wanted to go on a 4:35 pace, but I ended up falling off that a little bit. But it was still good. I have a kick that I knew would give me a chance. It wasn’t an outright PR, but converted down (for altitude) it might be.”
That 1500 gave Storm an unlikely championship. Although he is a strong miler, Storm entered the decathlon’s final event in fourth place with a considerable amount of ground to cover. “I didn’t even think I had a shot to move up,” he said, “especially leaving all the points on the table that I did on the first day and (early) on the second day.”
Storm’s title wasn’t Montana State’s only excitement on the closing day of multi-event competition. Danielle Rider finished second in the heptathlon with a personal best score of 5,267. She put herself in position to win with a personal best of 18-7 in the long jump, but when Montana’s Erika McLeod launched a 19-6.75 jump – the second best in the Big Sky this season and her best by more than nine inches – “it was over,” Eitel said. “Danielle just can’t score enough points in the javelin and 1500.”
Still, Eitel was thrilled with his senior’s showing. “She finished almost a perfect multi for her,” he said.
Dalen Hargett’s brilliant effort in the decathlon’s penultimate event paved the way for a third place finish for the freshman from Newport, Oregon. He chucked the javelin 190-10, the best throw in the competition and a personal best. He also ran a season’s best of 4:55.29 in the 1500 to close the competition. “He’s on his way to joining the great decathletes in history here at Montana State,” Kennedy said.
Junior heptathlete Jessica Chrisp, from Deer Park, Washington, also enjoyed a memorable competition. In spite of failing to score in the javelin she finished eighth in the heptathlon. “Jess had three throws that they called flat,” Eitel said, “so she scored (one point in the meet for finishing eighth) after place in just six (of the heptathlon’s seven) events. That’s pretty amazing.”
Kennedy called it historic. “That’s the first time I can think of in Big Sky history that’s happened,” he said. “She was an inspiration for everyone in the program.” Trevor Simanski finished 11th in the decathlon, as well.
Still, the day belonged to Storm, and he captured it with his effort in the 1500. “He was in last place after the first 400 meters,” Kennedy said. “Then he began passing runners until he worked his way to his third place (in the 1500) finish. It was a great thrill when he won (the decathlon). Tom Eitel has done an outstanding job developing this group, and all the athletes that have competed for him.”
Press Release courtesy of Bill Lamberty – Montana State Sports Information.All Rights Reserved.
Photos courtesy of Northern Colorado Sports Information. All Rights Reserved.