Six days out from the start of the Big Sky Conference indoor track and field championships at Pocatello, Idaho, Montana showed its readiness.
Sammy Evans broke her school record in the triple jump, Samantha Hodgson took over the conference lead in the shot put, and the Grizzlies had a number of other standout performances Friday afternoon at the Bobcat Open at Bozeman, Mont.
“Everyone competed better than they have all year and showed they’re ready to go next week,” said coach Brian Schweyen. “There were a lot of improvements and a lot of excitement among the athletes, so it was a good meet.”
The Grizzlies had seven wins at the meet, which drew athletes from Montana, Montana State, Montana-Western and New Mexico.
Evans, a four-time Big Sky jumps champion, upped her school record in the triple jump, taking it from 41-8.5 to 41-9.25, and Hodgson, last winter’s Big Sky champion, won the shot put at 47-11.75 to take over the top spot on the league performance list.
Other winners from the women’s team were Olivia Ellis, who ran an adjusted time of 57.82 for a PR in the 400 meters, Jane Booth, who cleared 5-4.25 in the high jump, and Erika McLeod, who went a season-best 18-10 in the long jump.
Callum Macnab had both of Montana’s wins for its men’s team. He went an adjusted 49.61 for a PR in the 400 meters, and he clocked an 8.42 in the 60-meter hurdles.
But it was maybe the team’s non-winners who produced the most surprises, starting with the 800 meters.
Karsten Pease took his season best from 1:55.53 down to an adjusted 1:52.41 to finish second in the 800 meters, knock more than a full second off his PR and move up to seventh in the Big Sky.
Colyer, the 2014 Big Sky indoor champion, raced to a 2:11.53, her best time since the 2015 indoor season, to move up to fifth in the Big Sky. Franz went 2:11.93, a PR by more than 1.5 seconds. She ranks sixth.
The Montana women had six runner-up finishes. Alanna Vann matched her season best of 7.77 in the 60 meters, and McLeod broke nine seconds for the first time in the 60-meter hurdles, going 8.99.
Lakyn Connors went a season-best 5-4.25 in the high jump, Emma Andrews went 18-3.25 in the long jump to come up a half inch short of her PR, Arielle Walden set a new PR in the triple jump at 38-7.75, her third time in four weeks going beyond 38 feet, and Carrie Jacka cleared 11-6.25 in the pole vault.
On the men’s side, Alex Mustard finished second in both the 60 meters, in a time of 7.01, and 200 meters, in an adjusted time of 22.38.
Chase Armstrong finished second in the 60-meter hurdles behind Macnab in a time of 8.43, Josh Riley ran an adjusted time of 49.78 to finish second to Macnab in the 400 meters, and Nick Jackson, also a runner-up, had a one-inch PR in the shot put, with a mark of 54-3.75.
Freshman Kyle Morris finished third in the shot, though his 53-10.5 was a season best by more than a foot and moved him up to No. 9 in the Big Sky, and freshman Brendan Thurber-Blaser, Montana’s top threat in next week’s heptathlon, had season bests in both the hurdles (8.93) and high jump (6-5).
Montana’s Dominque Bobo, who is redshirting this season and was competing unattached, won the 200 meters at 22.23 and the long jump at 22-11.75.
The Big Sky Conference championships will open on Thursday, with the women’s pentathlon and the start of the men’s heptathlon, at Idaho State’s Holt Arena.