MISSOULA — For the second consecutive day a Montana Grizzly won a Big Sky Conference track and field title, with Carly Smiedala winning the women's 800 meters on Friday, the final day of the league meet in Moscow, Idaho.
In just two seasons, Smiedala has had a decorated career, owning school records for the 800 meters in both indoor and outdoor. The Helena native added conference champion to her resume on Friday though, something that she has narrowly missed in her first several championships.
"I think for Carly, she's been thinking about that one for a long time," head coach Brian Schweyen said. "She ran a very, very smart race and did exactly what she needed to."
Northern Arizona won both the men's and women's tiles. The Montana men earned 36 total points to place ninth. The women placed 10th with 40 points.
Smiedala placed third at last year's outdoor championships and second at this year's indoor meet, after having the top time in the prelims.
After entering this week as the No. 2 runner in the event, Smiedala ran a 2:13.57 on Thursday, taking the final qualifying spot. She made the most of her opportunity on Friday, improving her time by nearly 7 seconds to finish in 2:07.66.
Montana earned 19 total points in the event. In addition to Smiedala's 10, the Grizzlies had two additional athletes qualify for the finals. Senior Emily Cheroske place fourth (2:09.43), followed by freshman Madeline Hamilton in fifth (2:11.40).
"All three had a fantastic race and got us a lot of points," Schweyen said, noting that the trio was also part of Montana's 1,600-meter relay team that placed fifth. "They're three studs for us and a big part of the success we had this week."
To go along with his fourth-place showing on Thursday in the shot put, Brent Yeakey also scored in the discus with a top throw of 165-0 (eighth). Just a freshman, Yeakey was not expected to score in either event, but was a major boost for the Grizzlies. His mark on Friday was a PR by 9 feet.
The Grizzlies earned four total points with a pair of scorers in the men's hammer throw. Sophomore Shawn Humphries placed sixth (177-5) and senior Nick Jackson finished eighth (172-7).
Chase Armstrong (400-meter hurdles), Jonathan Eastwood (1,500 meters) and Jacob Lamb (800 meters) all earned qualifying times on Thursday and competed in Friday's finals in their respective events. Armstrong placed sixth with a time of 55.01 while Lamb came in eighth at 1:57.25. Eastwood improved his prelims time by more than 5 seconds, running at 3:53.55, and finishing seventh out of 12 runners.
The Grizzlies also earned four points from sophomore Zena Smith, who placed fifth in the women's javelin (144-11).
"There were some girls that came out of nowhere," Schweyen said. "They took the top three spots and they came from a long ways back. That event can be tough at times. Zena was solid, but she just didn't get ahold of one today."
Of the 16 athletes who scored for Montana, 14 are expected to return next season, in addition to a handful of previous scorers who are redshirting this year.
"There's a lot of youth that we have this year, and we'll be even that much better when we add the talent that we left at home," Schweyen said. "The future is really bright."
The championships conclude Montana's 2018 team season. Several athletes will now await word from the NCAA to see who will advance to the NCAA West Region, which takes the top 48 athletes in each event.