The Montana women’s track and field program, coming off runner-up finishes at the Big Sky Conference indoor and outdoor championships, has signed five athletes who will join the Grizzlies next year.
Madison Carr, of Park City, Utah; Natalie Peterson, of Newberg, Ore.; Madison Ward, of Spokane, Wash.; and Jansen Ziola, of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, all signed National Letters of Intent.
Maryn Lowry, a transfer from Iowa State, accepted a scholarship offer. In addition, Evie Tate, who ran at Clemson, will join the program after accepting admission to UM’s School of Physical Therapy. Both will be fifth-year seniors with limited eligibility remaining.
Lowry has one season of cross country and outdoor eligibility left. Tate, who became an internet darling last fall, has one indoor and one outdoor season remaining.
Montana signed Madeline Hamilton, of Missoula Sentinel, and Abby Dodge, of Butte, to NLIs in November during the NCAA’s early-signing period.
The eight athletes will come in at a unique time for coach Brian Schweyen’s women’s program, which has had eight top-three finishes at Big Sky indoor and outdoor championships in Schweyen’s nine-year tenure as head coach.
The Grizzlies will have the type of talent on their roster to have similar finishes in 2018, but with the program hosting the 2019 Big Sky outdoor championships, redshirt seasons will be used liberally next winter and spring to hold on to eligibility.
That will have Montana loaded up once again, when the championships come to Dornblaser Field in less than two years.
“We’ll take a step back next year from where we’ve been, but that will be intentional,” said Schweyen. “We’ll be right back on it in 2019. With the youth that we have and the talent we have coming in, we should be able to maintain it.”
The biggest boost from the latest group of signees will be Vicky Pounds’ cross country team and middle-distance and distance track groups.
Carr and Ward will help at the younger end of the roster, Lowry and Tate, who is from Spartanburg, S.C., at the older, more experienced end.
Lowry, of Cincinnati, Ohio, had PRs at Iowa State of 2:12.25 in the 800 meters and 4:31.77 in the 1,500 meters, two seconds off the time Reagan Colyer ran at the Big Sky outdoor championships at Sacramento State earlier this month to place sixth.
“I expect Maryn to be in our top five for cross country, and she’ll contribute for us on the track,” said Pounds. “Unlike some fifth years, she seems very motivated and excited to come and compete for us.”
Ward, a graduate of Saint George’s School in Spokane, was a seven-time Washington small-school state track champion, four times winning the 800 meters, three times the 1,600 meters.
She also was a member of three relay teams that won state titles and claimed the state cross country championship as a junior.
Ward had prep PRs of 2:18.38 in the 800 meters, 5:04.45 for the 1,600 meters.
Carr, a graduate of Park City High, had a second-place finish in 1,600 meters and third-place finish in the 3,200 meters at the Utah Class 3A state meet as a junior.