Courtney Babcock
Courtney Babcock

Distance Coach


Big Sky cross country championships Saturday at Bozeman

Women racing at 10 a.m., men at 11 a.m. at Bridger Creek Golf Course

The 2010-11 cross country and track seasons mark Courtney Babcock's third year at Montana. She was hired in July 2009 after serving in the same role on an interim basis during the 2008-09 season.

If Babcock's athletes had a successful season in 2008-09, they had a breakout campaign in 2009-10.

The women's and men's cross country teams both finished third at the 2009 Big Sky Conference championships after being picked for fourth- and fifth-place finishes by the league's coaches prior to the season.

The women notched their fourth top-three finish of the last five years, while the men recorded their first outright top-three finish since 1990.

Katrina Drennen (third), Lynn Reynolds (fifth) and Kesslee Payne (seventh) had All-Big Sky Conference finishes. Drennen and Payne became Montana's first pair of all-conference finishers at the same meet since 2000.

Drennen's 17th-place performance at the NCAA Mountain Regional would allow her to advance to the NCAA championships, Montana's first representative at the national meet since 2006.

That trend continued - especially for the women - at the 2010 Big Sky indoor championships.

The UM women's team's top five individual-event finishers all came from Babcock's distance crew, highlighted by Drennen's first-place finish in the 3,000 meters. She became Montana's first women's indoor distance champion since 2001.

Brooke Andrus and Kara DeWalt finished second in the 800 meters and mile, respectively, and Drennen and Emily Eickholt placed third in the 5,000 and 800 meters, respectively.

Montana's other champion at the indoor meet was its distance medley relay team, led by Andrus, DeWalt and Payne.

The same athletes came through at the Big Sky outdoor championships as well.

Drennen was runner-up in both the 1,500 and 5,000 meters, Andrus took third in the 800 meters and Payne pulled off the single-day performance of the meet, placing third in the 1,500 meters, fourth in the 800 meters and fifth in the 5,000 meters within a three-hour window.

On the men's side, Reynolds finished fourth in the steeplechase.

During the season Drennen would break Montana's 11-year-old 1,500-meter record and compete in that event at the NCAA West Regional. Payne, who also ran a 1,500 meters faster than the previous school record, joined Drennen at regionals in the 1,500 meters and also ran the 800.

Drennen's career-best and improved-school-record time of 4:19.36 at regionals earned her a spot at the NCAA championships, giving her a cross country-outdoor track single-season national championships double.

A native of Chatham, Ontario, Babcock is a 1996 graduate of Michigan. While competing for the Wolverines from 1992-96, she was a one-time NCAA champion (distance medley relay, 1994 NCAA indoor championships), an eight-time All-American in indoor and outdoor distance events, a member of four Big Ten championship teams and a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection.

She was inducted into the Michigan Women's Track and Field Hall of Fame in 2004. (Note: Babcock's father, Larry, was inducted into the Michigan Hockey Hall of Fame in 1970. He played center for the Wolverines for three seasons [1960-61 to 1962-63], captaining the team his senior year, and was a Montreal Canadians draft pick.)

Babcock moved to Missoula in 1997 to train and compete with the Mountain West Track Club.

Between 2001 and 2003, Babcock won four titles at the annual Canadian Championships, winning two in the 5,000 meters and two in the 10,000 meters.

She had her most successful season of racing in 2003, posting Canadian national records in the 5,000 meters at the IAAF World Championships in Paris, France, and the 10,000 meters at the Cardinal Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif.

Babcock's 5,000-meter time of 14:54.98 placed her eighth at Worlds; her 10,000-meter time of 31:44.76 broke a 15-year-old national record.

Babcock followed her World Championships performance with a 4:01.99 1,500 meters a week later in Brussels, Belgium, the third-fastest 1,500-meter time in Canadian history.

Babcock competed for Canada in both the 1,500 and 5,000 meters at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.

She and her husband, Miles Key, have two sons, Ridley and Hudson.

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