Feb. 9, 2012
The Montana track and field teams will return to Montana State this week for the Bozeman Running Company Invitational. The meet will be held Friday evening at MSU's Brick Breeden Fieldhouse.
Junior Lindsey Hall will travel to Nampa, Idaho, and compete in the pentathlon Friday at the Boise State Team Challenge. The two-day meet will be held at the Jacksons Indoor Track at the Idaho Center, the site of next month's NCAA indoor championships.
Austin Emry, who is redshirting the indoor season, will be competing unattached at the BSU Team Challenge in the heptathlon.
The big picture (I): Friday's meet at Montana State will be the final one for Montana's full team. A partial squad will return to MSU on Friday, Feb. 17, for a last-chance meet.
The Grizzlies who qualify for the Big Sky Conference championships will travel to Flagstaff, Ariz., for the conference meet the following week. Northern Arizona will host the championships Friday and Saturday, Feb. 24-25.
Any athletes qualifying for nationals will compete at Nampa, Idaho, Friday and Saturday, March 9-10.
The big picture (II): The Montana women will have a small but strong team going to Flagstaff in two weeks for the Big Sky championships. Currently nine athletes hold 17 automatic qualifications in 12 of the 15 individual events that will be contested at the championships.
The Grizzlies do not have qualifiers in the 60 meters, shot put and weight throw.
Hall and junior Kourtney Danreuther both top the most recent Big Sky Conference performance lists in three events. Hall holds the top mark in the pentathlon (3,783) and long jump (19-4.25), and Danreuther holds more than a one-second advantage over her nearest competitor in the 400 meters (55.27).
Hall also ranks second in the 60-meter hurdles (8.54) and is tied with junior teammate Gwenn Abbott for second in the high jump (5-6.5).
The championships will also feature the distance medley relay and 4x400-meter relay. Montana has won the last four distance medley relay titles and currently has the third-ranked quarter-mile relay time in the Big Sky of 3:52.10.
"I feel really good about the women's team," UM track and field program director Brian Schweyen said. "There are no seniors in that group, so it's a team that is still young and building."
The big picture (III): The Montana men will have a small team competing at the championships as well, but they do not have nearly the points on paper that the women have. The Grizzlies have four athletes holding four qualifications in four of the championships' 15 individual events.
Junior Keith Webber ranks second in the pole vault (16-1.75), freshman Lee Hardt sits second in the high jump (6-10.25), senior Don Danns is fifth in the 60 meters (6.90), and freshman Dylan Hambright ranks sixth in the 400 meters (48.73), and that only adds up to 23 points.
Friday's meet will be an opportunity for a number of the team's on-the-bubble athletes to automatically qualify or at least solidify their at-large positioning within the Big Sky performance lists.
"We're redshirting a couple of guys who would be point-scorers for us, so we're really young on the men's team," Schweyen said.
"I don't anticipate us having a great indoor meet, but I think come outdoors we're going to see a pretty strong men's team. Maybe not top of the conference, but stronger than we've seen the last few years."
Hall looking beyond Flagstaff: Lindsey Hall, who won the Big Sky indoor pentathlon and outdoor heptathlon last year, will be the heavy favorite to repeat in the pentathlon in two weeks at Flagstaff. Her season best of 3,783 points from Montana State last month is more than 200 points above any other Big Sky pentathlete's total this winter.
Hall, who will be redshirting the outdoor season, went to outdoor nationals last year in the heptathlon and is aiming for her first trip to indoor nationals next month. Her score of 3,783 ranks 26th nationally, and that would leave her on the outside looking in if the cut was made today.
She will likely need to score at least 3,900 points either Friday or in two weeks at the Big Sky championships to put herself in a position to be competing at Nampa, Idaho, in early March.
Six athletes have reached 4,000 points this winter, another six have surpassed 3,900 points, and more will be added to those lists over the next two-plus weeks.
Joining the 4,000-point club is certainly doable. Hall's career bests in the 60-meter hurdles (8.64), high jump (5-8.75), shot put (35-5.75), long jump (19-4.25) and 800 meters (2:21.35) would add up to 4,113.
There is just the small matter of bringing marks similar to those to a one-day event and then somehow not worrying about point totals.
"Lindsey is a 4,000-point heptathlete, so she just needs to go down (to this meet) and have fun and compete like she knows how to compete. That's all she has to do," Schweyen said.
Hall is still learning the most important trick of the multi-events: Competing in a vacuum, going from one event to the next, without worrying about point totals.
"Lindsey doesn't have to score 4,000 points. That shouldn't be her focus. She just needs to compete like she knows how and have fun. That's it. It's our job as coaches to make sure she can do that and her mind is in the right place."
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