Lukas Scherer will compete in the javelin next Saturday
May 16, 2013
The Montana track and field program had 11 athletes qualify for the NCAA West Regional it was announced Thursday, the best postseason showing for the Grizzlies in a decade. Regionals will be held next Thursday through Saturday at Austin, Texas.
The regional fields, which go 48 deep in each event, are determined by athletes' rankings on the West Region performance list. The 11 Grizzlies will be competing across seven events and will be in action each of the regional's three days.
It is the largest group Montana has sent to regionals since the Grizzlies had 12 athletes competing in 2003 at Lincoln, Neb., when four regional sites fed into nationals instead of just two.
The NCAA East Regional will be hosted at Greensboro, N.C., next week at the same time. The top 12 athletes in each event in each region will advance to nationals, which will be held at Eugene, Ore., in early June.
Competing next week at Texas' Mike A. Ayers Stadium will be juniors Gwenn Abbott (high jump), Kourtney Danreuther (400-meter hurdles), Nycole Devers (javelin), Austin Emry (high jump), Kellee Glaus (triple jump), Lindsey Hall (javelin) and Lukas Scherer (javelin), sophomores Brandon Forson (discus) and Lee Hardt (high jump) and freshmen Samantha Hodgson (discus) and Stephanie Wells (javelin).
"This is definitely progress and what we're after as a program," UM coach Brian Schweyen said. "It's encouraging that this group is spread out. No seniors and four underclassmen, and there are others on the roster who are right there but didn't make it.
"The challenge now will be to try to get three of four of these athletes to nationals."
Montana will travel next week with a mix of veterans of the regional experience and rookies. Danreuther, Emry and Hall are all making their third trip, Devers her second. The other seven will be first-timers.
No athletes will be doubling up at the meet, though Danreuther and Hall both could have competed in a second event had they been entered. Danreuther would have ranked 34th at the regional in the 400 meters, Hall 43rd in the 100-meter hurdles.
"With Lindsey's Achilles the way it is, no good would have come out of her running the hurdles," Schweyen said. "She either would have gotten hurt or only been able to put up an average time.
"Her best chance to advance to nationals is in the javelin, so we want to give her the best opportunity to be successful in that event."
Hall will take the team's highest regional ranking into competition next week. She sits seventh in the javelin and 14th nationally after her school-record throw of 168-2 last Saturday at the Big Sky Conference championships. It was Hall's first Big Sky javelin title and fifth Big Sky championship overall.
Hardt is tied for 13th in the high jump with his mark of 7-1 at the Griz-Cat Dual, and Emry is tied for 16th in the same event. He cleared 7-0.5 at the Al Manuel Invitational.
Everyone else will go to Austin with a ranking lower than 20th. Wells ranks 22nd, Glaus 25th, Scherer 29th, Danreuther and Devers 34th, Hodgson 36th, Forson 46th and Abbott 47th.
A number of Grizzlies came up just short of qualifying when the final cuts were made Thursday. Emry and freshman Dylan Reynolds were both less than a tenth of a second away in the 110-meter and 400-meter hurdles, respectively. Junior Keith Webber was two inches off in the pole vault, and freshman Sammy Evans 3.5 inches short in the triple jump.
And for the second straight spring, Montana's 4x400-meter relay team came up just short. Danreuther, Emily Eickholt, McKenzie Luth and Madison Worst ran a 3:40.89 last Saturday to break the Big Sky championships and Montana records. The cut to make regionals ended up being 3:39.46.
Thursday's schedule (all time MT)
11 a.m. -- Forson (discus)
3:30 p.m. -- Danreuther (400m hurdles, first round)
5 p.m. -- Hardt, Emry (high jump)
11 a.m. -- Hodgson (discus)
5 p.m. -- Abbott (high jump)
6:30 p.m. -- Danreuther (400m hurdles, national quarterfinals)
11 a.m. -- Scherer (javelin)
4 p.m. -- Hall, Wells, Devers (javelin)
5 p.m. -- Glaus (triple jump)
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