The Montana track and field team kicked off the indoor season in Bozeman on Thursday night with the Bobcat Preview meet. The Grizzlies entered in good shape after a successful fall training period, and exceeded second-year head coach Doug Fraley‘s expectations with an impressive meet performance.
The Griz competed against host Montana State as well as five smaller Montana colleges. They return to Missoula with plenty of PR’s from both the men and women, and three event wins for the women and four for the men.
“My initial assessment is very encouraging,” Fraley said. “We had some really fine marks for December 7 honestly, better than what we were expecting in some of the areas. It’s a very encouraging start. We were optimistic after a good fall training period, and to see a lot of that training come to fruition this early in the season is a great thing. It gives us a very accurate idea of where just about everybody on our team is at this point, and that’s the value of this meet.”
Entering the meet, Fraley said that he was excited for some of the top returners on the men’s side to get out and perform well. They had made it through fall training healthy and with high expectations. Several of those that he mentioned had great season debuts.
Teagun Holycross and Cooper Hewett both ran very fast 60m times early on in the meet. Holycross finished second with a 6.85 time and Hewett was fourth at 6.87. Both times were PRs. Another veteran leader, Jason Upton, had a PR of 23-8.25 to win the men’s long jump competition.
“Those are pretty high-level marks for December,” Fraley said of the trio. “We knew that those individuals had been training well, but it’s really nice to seem them validate that at a competition.”
The women had a big event in the field. Ariel Clark won the women’s weight throw with a new personal-best throw of 56-2, while Savana Ramirez finished second with a throw of 55-4.25.
On the men’s side, Walker McDonald had a PR in the same event with a throw of 53-8.25.
“Some other really good performances today were Ariel Clark and Savana Ramirez in the weight throw,” Fraley said. “They had big PRs in the weight throw, as did Walker McDonald. That was very encouraging.”
The event could have featured more PRs, but Montana ran a pair of unorthodox races that will likely only be contested at this season-opening meet. The Grizzlies had strong runs in the 300m and 600m on both sides, including a second-place finish and new school record in the 600m with a time of 1:22.54.
Audrey Smith picked up a win for the women’s team in the 200m with a time of 26.04.
The Grizzlies have plenty of young talent on the squad, and had some very successful debuts on Thursday. Jayel Dovichak won the women’s 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.87 seconds. Tara Ohlwiler had a couple of fast sprint times that led to a pair of top three finishes in the 60m and 200m races. Cathlene Van Zyl was Montana’s top performer in the shot put with a toss of 41-11.25.
On the men’s side, Missoula Hellgate product Alex Shields had a good day in the shot and weight throw, and the vertical jumps had a couple of stellar freshman performances. Zachary Travis won the high jump with a leap of 6-5.5, breaking a tie over teammate Patrick Kremer for the win.
In the pole vault, Kevin Swindler cleared 16-6.75 to finish second. He led a great group for the Griz, as Zane Johnson also cleared the same height for a new PR while Carson Weeden had a new personal best at 16-0.75.
“It’s an indoor PR for Zane and Carson, and for a freshman to come in and jump that high in his first indoor meet, that’s really encouraging,” Fraley said. “Those are really good performances, and I keep saying for the month of December, but really you know you’re in good shape but you don’t expect those top line performances.”
Perhaps the best performance by a freshman came from Henry Ballinger in the mile. The Helena product ran a good time that will convert to about a 4:08 mile in his first collegiate competition.
“That is a big-time performance for a freshman running his first indoor meet,” Fraley said. “We were really, really thrilled with that.”
Ballinger wasn’t the only distance runner to win an event, as Maxwell Scott won the 3,000m with a time of 9:01.51.
Overall, the newcomers showed that they weren’t afraid of the moment in their first action on a collegiate track.
“A very good debut for a majority of the freshmen that we had competing,” Fraley said. “They showed that they are in good shape and that they aren’t afraid to compete and compete hard. All in all, a very successful icebreaker for us here in Bozeman.”
Montana will take the event wins and PRs, but this early in the season there is one major goal when running a competition that they achieved on Thursday. They got back on the bus to Missoula healthy.
“Grateful, as always, to get through a meet healthy,” Fraley said. “We didn’t have any injuries today, and that’s always fantastic to get through a meet this early with somewhat limited preparation for actual battle. To come out of it unscathed, that alone is a big blessing as we go into the break.”
Montana now have a five-week break before returning to action in early January. They will next run at the Spokane Indoor Challenge on Jan. 12-13.
Women’s 60m – Mikenna Ells (7.78, 3rd/19), Tara Ohlwiler (7.78, 3rd), Claire Hutchison (7.79, 5th), Audrey Smith (7.83, 7th), Lily Meskers (7.87*, 9th), Cosley Bruno (7.91*, 12th), Rileigh McGree (7.99, 14th), Kara Mattson (8.11*, 15th), Destiny Santiago (8.14, 17th)
Women’s 200m – Audrey Smith (26.04, 1st/8), Tara Ohlwiler (26.12, 2nd), Destiny Santiago (27.23, 5th)
Women’s 300m – Lily Meskers (40.5, 2nd/10), Mikenna Ells (40.76, 3rd), Claire Hutchison (41.09, 5th), Cosley Bruno (41.48, 6th), Jayel Dovichak (42.35, 8th)
Women’s 600m – Katie Whitehurst (1:36.08, 5th/10), Brooke Stayner (1:39.52, 7th), MacKenzie Dean (1:39.77), Whitney Morrison (1:40.17, 9th)
Women’s Mile – Mackenzie Morgan (5:27.96, 2nd/6), Ella Rubel (6:05.39, 6th)
Women’s 60mH – Jayel Dovichak (8.87, 1st/11), Brooke Stayner (8.97, 2nd), Ailsa Gilbert (9.07, 3rd), Ainsley Shipman (9.25, 4th), Whitney Morrison (9.29, 5th), Kara Mattson (9.36, 7th)
Women’s High Jump – Erin Wilde (5-5, 3rd/10)
Women’s Long Jump – Kara Mattson (17-4, 4th/14), Ainsley Shipman (17-2.25, 5th), Brooke Stayner (17-1.5*, 6th), Emily Maughan (16-11.25, 8th), Rileigh McGree (16-10.75, 9th), Whitney Morrison (16-7.75, 11th)
Women’s Pole Vault – Molly Chambers (11-10, 6th/13), Emma Zimmerman (11-4.25, 8th), Ani Smith (10-4.25, 11th), Chesnee Lawrence (10-4.25, 11th), Hannah Moses (11-4.25, 11th)
Women’s Shot Put – Cathlene Van Zyl (41-11.25, 4th/15), Morgan Thomas (40-5, 5th), Ariel Clark (40-4.25, 6th), Scout Nadeau (35-10.75, 10th)
Women’s Weight Throw – Ariel Clark (56-02*, 1st/16), Savana Ramirez (55-04.25*, 2nd), Morgan Thomas (45-8.5, 8th), Scout Nadeau (45-7.75, 9th), Mary Mickelson (43-7.75, 11th), Cathlene Van Zyl (41-0.5, 14th), Molly O’Dell (40-4.75, 15th)
Men’s 60m – Teagun Holycross (6.85*, 2nd/26), Cooper Hewett (6.87*, 4th), Jason Upton (6.99, 7th), Taylor Johnson (7.06*, 8th), Jay Beagle (7.09*, 11th), Xavier Melice (7.12, 13th), Cody Lease (7.13, 16th), Cutter Thatcher (7.17, 17th), Ty Ferguson (7.25, 21st), Gordon McMillion (7.27, 22nd)
Men’s 300m – Taylor Johnson (35.21/3rd/17), Xavier Melice (35.23, 4th), Jay Beagle (35.47, 6th), Cody Lease (35.67, 7th), Ty Ferguson (36.28, 10th), Adam Maxwell (37.27, 15th),
Men’s 600m – Casey Crouch (1:22.54, 2nd/6), Michael Jump (1:23.31, 3rd), Garrett Dahlke (1:23.32, 4th), Cutter Thatcher (1:22.77, 5th)
Men’s Mile – Henry Ballinger (4:17.37, 1st/2)
Men’s 3,000m – Maxwell Scott (9:01.51, 1st/2), Zachary Giesch (9:10.97, 2nd)
Men’s 60mH – Porter Coffield, (8.77, 3rd/10), Adam Maxwell (8.91, 5th)
Men’s 4x400m – Montana (3:27.12, 1st)
Men’s High Jump – Zachary Travis (6-5.5, 1st/9), Patrick Kremer (6-5.5, 2nd), Adam Maxwell (6-1.5, 4th), Porter Coffield (5-9.75, 5th)
Men’s Long Jump – Jason Upton (23-8.25*, 1st/15), Patrick Kremer (22-5, 2nd), Jethro Thorne (22-0.25, 3rd), Gordon McMillion (21-11.75, 4th)
Men’s Triple Jump – Dylan Zink (43-8.75, 3rd/3)
Men’s Pole Vault – Kevin Swindler (16-6.75, 2nd/16), Zane Johnson (16-6.75*, 3rd), Carson Weeden (16-0.75*, 4th), Jackson Merrill (15-1, 6th), Carson Hegele (15-1, 8th), Carter Petersen (14-7.25, 11th)
Men’s Shot Put – Alex Shields (47-7.25, 6th/16), Wade Rykal (44-7, 10th)
Men’s Weight Throw – Walker McDonald (53-8.25*, 4th/16), Alex Shields (46-11.5, 8th), Wade Rykal (38-5.5, 14th)
*denotes indoor PR