May 24, 2012
Competing in the city that dubs itself the "Live Music Capital of the World," Montana's track and field athletes struggled to find any sweet notes Thursday on the opening day of the NCAA West Preliminary Championships at Austin, Texas.
Senior Richard Brumbaugh and sophomore Austin Emry -- in the javelin and long jump -- did not challenge for one of their events' 12 spots to nationals, and sophomores Drew Owens and Kourtney Danreuther -- in the 400-meter hurdles and 400 meters -- did not advance to Friday's finals.
"It certainly didn't pan out like we anticipated," UM program director Brian Schweyen said. "We need to figure it out, because everyone struggled today.
"If we had anyone who didn't come down here ready to compete, that's one thing, but that wasn't the case. I thought all four athletes were ready to go. They were focused, they were excited. It just didn't happen."
Brumbaugh, who entered with a season best of 209-4, was the first Montana athlete to compete Thursday in the opening event of the three-day championships. Throwing in the opening flight of the javelin, he went 183-4 on his first attempt, 197-4 on his second, then fouled on his final collegiate throw.
Brumbaugh threw his 209-4 two weeks ago to finish third at the Big Sky Conference championships, and he's been practicing on a left ankle that has been getting increasingly healthy the last week. Oddly, that may have cost him Thursday.
"In the javelin, timing is everything," Schweyen said. "Richard's definitely been carrying more speed on his approach the last few days, and his timing's been off because of it. I think not being able to practice at that speed the previous five weeks (because of his injured ankle) hurt him."
Brumbaugh finished 30th overall out of the 48 competitors, an improvement on his No. 40 pre-championships ranking.
In the men's long jump, Austin Emry and Austin, Texas, continue to be at odds. Emry, who no-heighted in the high jump at regionals at the same site two years ago, was unable to break 18 feet in his three attempts in the preliminaries.
Emry went a career-best 24-3 at the Big Sky championships two weeks ago but, like Brumbaugh, was off on his timing on his approach to the board. He went 17-5.25 on his first attempt, fouled on his second and went just 14-3 on his third, a frustrating effort for an athlete who went farther than 22 feet at all of Montana's previous meets this spring.
Montana sought redemption on the track later in the afternoon Thursday, but it was not to be found.
Owens finished eighth in his heat of eight in the 400-meter hurdles, clocking a time of 54.60. He also had the event's most unfortunate lane assignment. Running in lane two, Owens had to his immediate right Amaechi Morton, a senior from Stanford and the nation's fastest 400 hurdler.
"That was a tough position for Drew to be in," Schweyen said. "It can be tough to get the pacing down to run your own race when the fastest guy in the country is in the next lane."
Owens needed to run at least a 52.55 to advance to Friday's finals. He ran a 52.16 two weeks ago at the Big Sky championships to finish second.
Danreuther, the Big Sky's 200 and 400 meters champion, gave the Grizzlies their best shot at a positive storyline Thursday. Ranked 17th going in with her season-best time of 53.32, she was a favorite to make the 27-athlete cut to Friday's finals.
Running in the widest lane, Danreuther placed sixth in her heat with a time of 54.98. She finished 32nd overall and would have needed to run a 54.66 to advance.
"Lane nine can be tough to run from because there can be a lot of anxiety being out by yourself, not knowing where you are compared to everyone else," Schweyen said. "She might have gone out a little too fast in the first 200."
Senior Lynn Reynolds and freshman Allie Parks will compete in the steeplechase Friday night. With Owens and Danreuther not advancing, the steeplechasers will be Montana's only athletes racing on day two.
"I think what happened today should motivate Lynn and Allie," Schweyen said. "Hopefully they see the opportunity they have to come out and do what the others missed out on."
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