Last-chance meet Friday before Big Sky indoor

David Norris

David Norris

Feb. 15, 2012

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Big Sky Conference performance list Get Acrobat Reader

The Montana track and field teams will compete one last time before the Big Sky Conference indoor championships when the Grizzlies travel to Bozeman Friday for the Montana State Open. The small, last-chance meet will feature athletes from Montana, Montana State and Rocky Mountain.

The field events will begin at 4:30 p.m. at MSU's Brick Breeden Fieldhouse. The running events begin at 5:30 p.m. The running events schedule does not feature relays.

Montana will have 28 men competing and 21 women, with a majority of the athletes sticking to a single event as either a final qualifying opportunity or a tune-up for the conference meet.

The Big Sky Conference indoor championships will be held next Friday and Saturday at Flagstaff, Ariz.

UM women at a glance: Montana will not be sending close to the 22-allowed athletes to the Big Sky meet, but the Grizzlies should have a good chance to extend their top-three streak. Montana has finished in the top three at the last four indoor and outdoor championships over the last two years.

Ten athletes are currently automatically qualified, led by junior Lindsey Hall's five qualifications, redshirt freshman Keli Dennehy's three and senior Kesslee Payne's, junior Kourtney Danreuther's and freshman Allie Parks' two.

Hall ranks first in the pentathlon (3,842) and long jump (19-4.25) and second in the 60-meter hurdles (8.54), and Danreuther ranks first in the 400 meters (55.27), though for the first time this winter she has company in the sub-56-second club. And if you know Danreuther and that her internal dial is permanently stuck on the "HYPER-COMPETITIVE" setting, you know that's not a bad thing.

UM men at a glance: The Montana men will also send well under 22 to the Big Sky meet. The Grizzlies do not hold a lot of points at this time on paper.

Nine athletes have automatically qualified, but only five of those sit in top-eight scoring positions, and only junior Keith Webber and freshman Lee Hardt rank in the top four in any event.

Webber, who has gone 16-plus feet two weeks in a row, ranks second in the pole vault with his season-best jump of 16-1.75. Hardt ranks second in the high jump with his mark a 6-11 from last Friday at MSU.

Both will be underdogs to the Big Sky leaders in those events. Idaho State's Michael Arnold has gone 17-4.5 in the pole vault, Northern Arizona freshman Deante Kemper has gone 7-2.25 in the high jump.

Five women's results to watch for Friday:

1. Gwenn Abbott (high jump) ... Abbott has gone 5-6 and 5-5.75 the last two meets. A jump of 5-7, which would match her career best, or better would give her momentum heading to Flagstaff, where she along with Lindsey Hall will be favorites to finish in the top three.

2. Keli Dennehy (mile) ... Dennehy could be a mini-Katrina Drennen at her first indoor championships and score in multiple events. Her current season best in the mile of 5:00.10 ranks seventh in the Big Sky. Only three athletes so far have broken 4:50, so the rest are in Dennehy's range.

3. Ani Haas (800 meters) ... In her first indoor track season Haas has dropped her 800 time from 2:25 to 2:20 to 2:17.21. She sits 12th in the Big Sky and is in line for an at-large bid, but look for a sub-2:16 time Friday to erase any doubt as Haas's improvement continues.

4. Lindsey Hall (triple jump) ... Hall ranks fourth in the Big Sky in the triple jump, but she has only competed in the event once this winter, and that came at Eastern Washington in early December. Friday will be a chance to remove any rust before next week's indoor championships.

5. Melissa Jenkins (400 meters) ... Jenkins was eight-hundredths of a second from hitting the 57.5 qualifying standard on Jan. 20, but she has not cracked 58 seconds since. She sits in a good position (11th) for an at-large spot, but could use a season-best performance Friday as a springboard.

Five men's results to watch for Friday:

1. David Norris (800 meters) ... Like Haas, Norris is only getting faster, but will it be fast enough? He went from 1:57.78 to 1:55.07 to 1:54.39 the last three weeks. That got him to Flagstaff, but a time that starts with 1:52, maybe 1:53, will likely be needed at conference to score points.

2. Sam Willis (mile) ... The freshman ran 4:18.96 two weeks ago, then 4:14.24 last Friday at Bozeman. Another improvement of just two and a quarter seconds Friday would get him under the 4:12 qualifying standard, and the Big Sky's No. 8 time right now is only 4:10.71.

3. Keith Webber/Kaleb Horlick (pole vault) ... If the Montana men will have an event of strength at Flagstaff, it will be the pole vault. Webber could make it three straight weeks over 16 feet Friday; Horlick went 16 feet last spring during the outdoor season but hasn't approached that this winter. Yet.

4. Donny Lisowski (55 meters) ... Yes, the same Donny Lisowski who was last seen returning an interception for a touchdown against Northern Iowa in December at Washington-Grizzly Stadium. He ran a 6.56 in the 55 meters last Friday, which was only two-hundredths of a second from qualifying for Flagstaff.

5. Triple jump ... This hasn't been a strong event for the Grizzlies since Ryan Grinnell bolted town. It's still not strong, but the Big Sky is down. Zane Reneau ranks eighth and Christian Segota ninth, both without having qualified. If either approaches 46 feet at Flagstaff, it could mean unexpected points.



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