BOZEMAN — Montana unofficially kicked off the 2019 track and field season with a bang on Friday, with several strong performances at the Montana State Open.
The annual meet featured the top athletes from the Treasure State, and Montana was well represented, winning 12 of the 25 individual events.
Among the 12 winners were four true freshmen. Erica Simison won the women's mile (5 minutes, 30.49 seconds) while Ariel Clark (40 feet, 11.75 inches) was the winner in the women's shot put. On the men's side, Cade Johnstone (22.56) and Aidan Diggs (8.25) were victorious in the 200 meters and 60-meter hurdles, respectively.
Montana's other individual winners were: Jane Booth (women's high jump), Samantha Engebretsen (women's 3,000 meters), Hana Feilzer (women's weight throw), Shawn Humphries (men's weight throw), Erika McLeod (women's long jump), Alex Mustard (men's 60 meters), Carla Nicosia (women's triple jump), Jordan Stow (men's high jump) and Brent Yeakey(men's shot put).
The meet was a strong starting point for a team mixed with veteran leadership and newcomers, but one that believes it can do big things in 2019.
A big part of Montana's success were the field events. The Grizzlies went 1-2-3 in the women's triple jump, led by Nicosia's career-best 37-10.75. Freshmen Morgan Radtke (36-4) and Rachel Lewis (36-2.75) placed second and third, respectively. Radtke also placed third in the high jump (5-3), just behind Booth (5-5), the event winner. In the women's long jump, Montana claimed three of the top four spots, with McLeod winning the event (19-1.25, better than any mark by a Grizzly in 2018), followed by Hannah Kearns (17-10.25) and Jansen Ziola (17-7).
The Grizzlies had four of the top five throwers in the women's shot put and five of the top six throwers in the weight throw. Despite being a freshman, Clark's mark of 40-11.75 in the shot put would have been the fourth-best throw by any Grizzly in 2018. Feilzer redshirted a year ago, and without her no Grizzly reached 60 feet in the weight throw. Her mark of 60-10 was two feet away from her own school record.
On the men's side, Mustard won the 60 meters (6.92) and placed third in the 200 meters (22.79). The Grizzlies earned the top five spots in that event, led by the Johnstone twins. Cade won the race (22.56), narrowly ahead of Paul (22.59). Xavier Melice (22.84) and Kip Krebsbach (22.92) — also freshmen, like the Johnstones — placed fourth and fifth.
Several additional Grizzlies had performances on Friday that were better than any marks from the 2018 season, including Jacob Price (42-4.25 in the triple jump) Diggs (8.25 in the 60-meter hurdles) and Yeakey (55-2.25 in the shot put). Freshman Tyrus Bryant jumped 41-5.25 in the triple jump, which would have ranked second in 2018. Callum Macnab placed second in the 60-meter hurdles (8.43).
In addition to his title in the men's high jump (6-6.75), Stow also was Montana's top performer in the long jump (23-4, second). Paul Johnstone placed third (22.5.25).
The Grizzlies will be back in Bozeman on Friday for the Montana State Dual Invitational.