Outdoor track and field season gets underway Saturday at Sac State

The University of Montana outdoor track and field teams will open their 2006 season this Saturday, March 25, when nine individuals compete at the Sacramento State Invitational. The rest of the Grizzlies will compete for the first time Saturday, April 1, when Montana hosts the Al Manuel Meet at Dornblaser Field.

Traveling to Sacramento State will be senior Jas Gill (high jump), juniors Alicia Mills (javelin), Robb Hollenbeck (long jump), Matt Larson (110-meter hurdles) and James Stanton (shot, discus), sophomores Allie Brosh (3,000 meters), Rachel Hendricks (high jump) and Loni Perkins (200, 400 meters) and freshman Ryan Grinnell (high jump, long jump, triple jump).

Field events and running events both begin at 9 a.m.

Early-Season Meet A Reward: As has become the tradition, Montana track and field coach Tom Raunig will send UM's top indoor track and field performers to an early-season outdoor meet in California. The meet of choice had been the Stanford Invitational, but the Cardinal switched weekends of its meet this year and it now conflicts with Montana's meet on April 1.

All of the Grizzly performers on Saturday placed in the top four at the 2006 Big Sky Conference Indoor Championships last month in Flagstaff, Ariz., except for Mills, who only competes outdoors. Gill was first in the triple jump and second in the high jump, Hollenbeck was second in the long jump, Larson was fourth in the 60-meter hurdles, Stanton was third in the shot, Brosh was second in the 3,000 and 5,000 meters, Hendricks was third in the high jump, Perkins was first in the 400 meters and second in the 200 meters and Grinnell was third in the triple jump.

Mills is the Montana record holder in the javelin and was an NCAA Midwest Region qualifier last spring as a sophomore.

"We send the people that do the best during the indoor season, just like we have for the last 10 years," Raunig said. "Usually it's the Stanford meet, but this year it's Sacramento State."

Raunig's Women's Outlook: "The women's team should be stronger outdoors than they were indoors because we pick up a couple of good javelin throwers in Alicia Mills, who's placed at the conference meet the last two years, and Amanda Emslie, who's thrown in the high 140s, which would usually place in the top four at the Big Sky meet, so we're strong in that event.

"Abbey Effertz is a top-notch discus thrower, so we feel like we'll pick up some additional points there that we didn't have indoors, and I feel like we'll get more fit as well with our sprinters, who during the winter can only get so sharp on the indoor tracks that we practice on, so we expect them to continue to progress.

"We hope Tara Schwager, who placed sixth indoors in the conference 400, will be able to transition over to the IM hurdles this spring and maybe be one of the top IM hurdlers in the conference. She's athletic enough from her soccer background that she's picked up the hurdles and she's strong and tall, so the hurdles aren't too much of an issue for her.

"Shannon Selby is back training, and she's scored as many as 14 points at a Big Sky meet before, so we're hopeful she can return to form."

Raunig's Regional Watch for the UM Women: "Alicia Mills and Amanda Emslie in the javelin, Loni Perkins in the 400 meters, Tara Schwager in the IM hurdles, Allie Brosh in the 5,000 meters, and of course our mile relay team, which went last year after winning the conference title. Rachel Hendricks could also qualify in the high jump, and we have some pole vaulters who could make the 12-5.5 standard."

Raunig's Men's Outlook: The men's team should be stronger outdoors as well. We're excited to get our sprinters a little more fit and get a few injured people back, like Richie Pemberton in the steeplechase, who's placed well in the conference in that event before, and Ryan Flaherty in the 800 meters.

"I think that Jimmy Stanton and Derin Gebhardt can both be placers at the Big Sky meet in the discus, and Jimmy has stepped it up in the shot to where he was third indoors, so we should have a good one-two punch with those two.

"Shawn Patrick, who only has outdoor eligibility, is back and he's been a placer at the conference meet before, so we pick up some people outdoors who we didn't have indoors."

Raunig's Regional Watch for the UM Men: "On the men's side it would look like Jas Gill in the triple jump and high jump, Matt Larson in the hurdles, Richie Pemberton, Dan Bingham and Eli Hermann in the steeplechase and I think Jimmy Stanton has a solid chance in the shot.

"It's just a matter of getting the weather conditions and putting it all together that day. Of course if you're a conference champion you also qualify automatically for regionals, so that is another possibility out there."

2006 Indoor Season Recap: The Montana men finished sixth in the team standings with 58 points, while the women were seventh with 57.5 points. Idaho State won the men's team title with 126.5 points, narrowly edging out Northern Arizona, which had 124.5 points. Weber State was third (111), followed by Eastern Washington (78), Montana State (76), Montana (58), Sacramento State (45) and Portland State (37).

NAU dominated the women's meet, scoring 189 points to more than double second-place Portland State, which finished with 91 points. Idaho State (81) was third, followed by Weber State (80.5), Montana State (74), Sacramento State (68), Montana (57.5) and Eastern Washington (22).

Montana's Women's Point Scorers:

10...Loni Perkins...1st...400 meters
8...Loni Perkins...2nd...200 meters
8...Allie Brosh...2nd...3,000 meters
8...Allie Brosh...2nd...5,000 meters
6...1,600-meter relay...3rd
5.5...Rachel Hendricks...T-3rd...High jump
5...Distance medley relay...4th
3...Tara Schwager...6th...400 meters
2...Amber Aikins...7th...Pentathlon
1...Bailey Cox...8th...Long jump
1...Anya Wechsler...8th...Pole vault

Montana's Men??s Point Scorers:

10...Jas Gill...1st...Triple jump
8...Jas Gill...2nd...High jump
8...Robb Hollenbeck...2nd...Long jump
6...James Stanton...3rd...Shot put
6...Ryan Grinnell...3rd...Triple jump
5...Matt Larson...4th...60m hurdles
5...Distance medley relay...4th
3...Jesse Loether...6th...800 meters
3...1,600-meter relay 6th
2...Chris Mosbacher...7th...Triple jump
2...Dan Bingham...7th...Mile


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