May 16, 2012
Montana track and field program director Brian Schweyen announced this week that the first round of additions to his 2012-13 men's team is complete. The initial class is 12 deep, with eight of the athletes coming from high schools in Montana, six alone from the Frenchtown-Florence-Corvallis-Darby power corridor.
Seven of the dozen athletes have signed National Letters of Intent since the NCAA's track and field signing period opened in early February: Cody Curtis of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho; Michael Harrison of Reno, Nev.; Colby Henderson of Corvallis, Mont.; Julian Jalani of Las Vegas, Nev.; Taylor Martinson of Billings, Mont.; Doug Raymer of Darby, Mont.; and Tyler Van Oort of Rye, Colo.
Brady Blomquist and Dylan Reynolds of Florence, Mont.; Jimmy Henderson of Corvallis, Mont.; Brady Baughman of Frenchtown, Mont.; and Cassius Ehlers of Sunburst, Mont., have all been accepted to the University and will join the Grizzlies in the fall as non-scholarship athletes in their first season.
"The local kids in this group I think are a little untapped. We believe there is a lot of talent there," Schweyen said. "I think down the road you're going to see them produce and be pretty good."
For a recent comparison, Schweyen points to Andrew Monaco, a sprinter from Billings, Mont., who recently completed his first semester at Montana as a non-scholarship athlete.
Monaco went sub-49 seconds (48.97) in the 400 meters for the first time at last weekend's Big Sky Conference championships at Bozeman, Mont. His time advanced him to the event finals, where he finished seventh to score two points for the Grizzlies.
He also ran legs of Montana's 4x100- and 4x400-meter relays.
"I see a lot of these kids being like Andrew, someone who wasn't too bad in high school but who came in and showed he's a hard-working kid," Schweyen said.
"And that hard work paid off. He's running in the 48s after only a few months of training, and he's scoring at conference. I think you're going to see that with a lot of these local kids."
As for his newcomers who signed scholarship offers, Schweyen said, "They've done some things to prove they are pretty darn good in high school.
"Depending on their work ethic and desire to be good, they have what it takes, but you never know until they get here. I like the numbers we're bringing in, but it will take a month or two of working with them to know what we really have."
Of the seven who signed Letters of Intent, four will join Montana's middle distance and distance crews.
Doug Raymer, a senior at Darby High, ranks first in Montana among all classes in the 800 meters (1:54.62) and fifth in the 1,600 (4:25.03). He swept the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters at last spring's Class B state meet, setting a new Class B state meet record of 1:55.27 in the 800.
Raymer was also the Class C state cross country champion last October. He won the race by nearly 50 seconds for Darby's runner-up team.
The addition of Cody Curtis gives Montana one of Idaho's top runners for the second straight season. The Grizzlies signed David Norris, a 2011 graduate of Coeur d'Alene High and Curtis's former teammate, last year.
Curtis won the 1,600 meters and placed third in the 3,200 at the Class 5A state meet as a sophomore, then swept the events last spring in career-best times of 4:19.18 and 9:28.65.
The 2012 Idaho Class 5A state meet is this weekend.
Colby Henderson and Julian Jalani give Montana a pair of runners with similar 800- and 1,600-meter times. Henderson finished second in the 800 meters (1:57.22) and third in the 1,600 (4:25.48) at last spring's Class A state meet for Corvallis High's second-place team. He has season bests this year of 1:57.77 and 4:34.70.
Jalani, a senior at Las Vegas's Bishop Gorman High, has run his career bests in the 800 and 1,600 meters this spring, posting times of 1:57.51 and 4:29.77. The former was run last weekend at the Southern 4A Regional, where he finished third.
Jalani placed eighth last year in the 800 meters at the Nevada Class 4A state meet.
Schweyen also looked to Nevada for the group's top sprinter in Michael Harrison, who is currently a senior at Reno's McQueen High.
Harrison has career bests of 11.22 in the 100 meters and 22.78 in the 200, and he has run on the 4x100-, 4x200- and 4x400-meter relays for the Lancers. He was a member of MHS's sixth-place 4x100 relay team at last spring's Class 4A state meet.
Montana's thrower within the group of signees is Tyler Van Oort, a senior at Rye High. He is Colorado's No. 2-ranked thrower in the shot put (53-6.5) and discus (170-2) at the Class 2A level going into this week's state meet.
Van Oort was runner-up in both events as a junior.
Martinson, a senior at Billings Central High, will add depth to Montana's sprints and jumps. He won the 100 meters (11.28) and long jump (22-6) and placed second in the 200 meters (23.31) at last spring's Class A state meet.
He has season bests this spring of 11.31 in the 100, 22.99 in the 200 and 20-11 in the long jump.
Of the five athletes -- all of whom are from Montana -- who are not on scholarship but will have the opportunity to perform their way to future scholarships, Ehlers and Reynolds are being looked at as multi-event athletes.
Ehlers, a senior at Sunburst High, has the bloodlines for it. His dad, Mike, was a seven-foot high jumper for the Grizzlies in the mid-80s and the 1986 Big Sky Conference champion in the event.
Mike, who was also a four-year running back for the Grizzlies, was the 1987 runner-up in the high jump and in 1988 tied for fourth, finishing an inch and a quarter higher than Schweyen, who placed sixth at those championships.
The younger Ehlers has season-best times of 11.12 in the 100, 23.00 in the 200 and 50.83 in the 400, plus a long jump of 20-2.5. His 100 meters time ranks seventh in the state among all classes.
He placed fourth in the 400 and fifth in the 200 to score all six of the Refiners' points at last spring's Class C state meet.
Reynolds, a senior at Florence-Carlton High who is coached by Matt Larson, a three-time Big Sky hurdles champion for the Grizzlies, is one of the best hurdlers in the state. His season-best time in the 300-meter hurdles of 39.83 ranks fourth in the state and is the best mark in Class B.
He also has season bests of 20-5 in the long jump and 42-2.25 in the triple jump.
Reynolds placed third in the hurdles at last spring's Class B state meet on the Falcons' fourth-place team.
Blomquist, also a senior at Florence-Carlton High, finished second in both the 100 and 200 meters at last weekend's District 6-B meet and ran with Reynolds on the Falcons' winning 4x400-meter relay team.
He has a season best in the 400 meters this spring of 51.10.
Like Reynolds, Baughman, a senior at Frenchtown High, is also one of the best hurdlers in the state. He ranks third in the 300-meter hurdles -- one spot ahead of Reynolds -- with a time of 39.42. It is the best time in Class A.
Baughman, who placed third in the 300-meter hurdles and fourth in the 110-meter hurdles at last spring's Class A state meet, also ranks 10th in the state among all classes in the 110-meter hurdles this spring with a time of 15.53.
Henderson, a senior at Corvallis High, will join Van Oort in the throws. He ranks seventh in the state in the discus among all classes with a throw of 152-6.75 and placed fifth at last year's Class B state meet in the event for CHS's second-place team.
Montana's initial list of women's additions -- which goes 10 deep -- will be released Friday.
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