Feb. 21, 2013
Montana junior Austin Emry had two career bests and scored 3,246 points Thursday and holds the one-day lead in the heptathlon at the 2013 Big Sky Conference indoor track and field championships at Bozeman, Mont.
Emry holds a 94-point lead over Montana State senior Jeff Mohl, who ranks 10th nationally to Emry's eighth. None of the other nine competitors are within 400 points of the multi-event standouts, who finished first and second, in some order, in all four of Thursday's events.
Emry's total is 74 more than the opening-day score he posted in December at Eastern Washington when he went on to break the Montana heptathlon record by 145 points.
He is also 54 points ahead of Asa Staven's day-one total that the 2012 Big Sky heptathlon champion posted last winter at Flagstaff, Ariz., prior to setting the Big Sky Conference record of 5,731.
Emry won three of the four events Thursday and had career bests in the 55 meters and shot put.
"Austin has been ready for this meet for a week," UM track and field coach Brian Schweyen said. "He got up this morning and (multi-events coach) Adam (Bork) and I looked at each other and said, `He's ready.'
"You just knew by looking at him that he was all business. When he gets like that, he's going to get things rolling, just like he did today."
Emry wasted little time setting the tone for his day when he raced to a career-best 6.59 in the 55 meters.
"I've been doing a lot of speed work and having some really good practices, so I expected to PR or at least be around a PR," Emry said. "I was feeling faster than I ever have before."
Schweyen added, "Opening with a race like that would set anybody up for a big day. It allows you to go into the next event with a perfect attitude. You're ready to roll, because you're not under any pressure to make up points you think you may have lost."
But Thursday wasn't a one-man show. Mohl was outstanding as well, and he won the second heat of the 55 meters in a time of 6.60, and that slim margin separated the two by just seven points going into the long jump.
Mohl got the better of Emry in the long jump, the only event Thursday in which the Bobcat had the upper hand. Mohl went 23-7.5 on his third attempt, and Emry, who went 21-7 and 22-6 on his first two tries, answered with a 23-2 on his final jump.
Emry, who found himself trailing by 27 points after two events, reclaimed the lead with a dominant performance in the shot put. His first attempt of 45-2.25 was a career best by 12 inches and traveled seven feet farther than any other heptathlete's first-round effort.
"That's what you want in every event, a good mark on your first attempt," Schweyen said. "That sets you up to be more relaxed and more aggressive with your follow-up attempts."
Mohl would post a career-best mark of 40-2 on his second attempt, but Emry's five-foot advantage gave him a 66-point lead through three events.
Emry has a career best in the high jump of 6-11.75, and he went 6-8 at Eastern Washington in December, but hadn't reached 6-8 since. He set his PR last May in the decathlon at the Big Sky outdoor championships, and he jumped Thursday like the confident athlete he was nine months ago.
He entered at 6-2.75, cleared it in one attempt, then passed on 6-4. By that time it was just Emry and Mohl remaining. Both cleared 6-5.25, 6-6.25 and 6-7.5, with Emry making it on his first attempt at each height.
Emry sailed over 6-8.75, again on his first attempt, while Mohl missed on his three attempts. Emry missed three times at 6-9.75.
"Austin's been struggling in the high jump, but he hit his approach today, and everything was good," Schweyen said. "He made 6-8.75, and anyone who saw that jump would have thought he was going to go seven feet today.
"But when the bar went up to 6-9.75, his approach changed, which it shouldn't. He got more excited, and everything got rushed. You've got to stay calm so that you don't change your rhythm.
"Still, it was an awesome first day for Austin."
Friday's events, the 55-meter hurdles, pole vault and 1,000 meters, afford multiple opportunities. Emry could become a Big Sky Conference champion, he could break his own Montana record, he could break the Big Sky Conference record, and he could post a score that locks down his spot to nationals next month.
Emry, shivering after a post-competition ice bath, said, "I'm just going to recover as well as I can right now and then go into tomorrow exactly the same way I did today."
The heptathlon begins Friday at 9 a.m. and will wrap up midday. Emry will later race the preliminaries of the 55-meter hurdles, an event in which he's ranked third in the Big Sky, and compete in the open long jump and high jump.
Dezellem ranked fourth in the Big Sky entering the championships, but she was dropped down the standings because of an early exit in the high jump and inexperience.
"Shayle came in nervous, tentative and unsure of herself, all the things you don't want to have and all the things that don't lead to a good performance," Schweyen said.
"This was a good learning experience for both of them. They need to build on this and improve the way they approach big meets."
Dezellem, who scored 3,424 points, had marks of 8.44 in the 55-meter hurdles, 4-9.75 in the high jump, 32-4.75 in the shot put, 17-0.75 in the long jump and a season-best 2:21.13 in the 800 meters.
She had the day's fifth-fastest hurdles time, and she won her heat of the 800 meters and placed second overall in the event.
Dahl scored 3,135 points, with efforts of 9.28 in the hurdles, 4-11 in the high jump, 35-5 in the shot put, 16-5.25 in the long jump and 2:48.29 in the 800.
Her shot put was a season best and ranked sixth overall. She also matched a career best in the high jump.
With two-time defending pentathlon champion Lindsey Hall of Montana redshirting (though on hand at the championships to shoot photos for GoGriz.com), fans were kept from enjoying what would have been a wonderful head-to-head battle between her and Portland State's Joenisha Vinson.
Vinson won the pentathlon Thursday with a score of 3,922. Hall won the pentathlon last year with a score of 3,928. That score broke the Big Sky championships record for the pentathlon and came within one of the all-time record.
Southern Utah's Shaye Maurer finished second with 3,841 points. Montana State's Sarah McGree was third with 3,741.
After the heptathlon concludes Friday morning, the open events will take over for the next two days. The field events begin at 1:30 p.m. with the women's weight throw. Running events begin at 4:15 p.m. with the preliminaries of the men's 55-meter hurdles.
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