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Montana Mile field set for Big Sky State Games opening ceremonies
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Montana Mile field set for Big Sky State Games opening ceremonies

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BILLINGS — The field has been set.

The runners competing in the prestigious Montana Mile during opening ceremonies of the 36th Annual Big Sky State Games Friday at Daylis Stadium were announced in a press release on Monday.

The men’s field includes: Ase Ackerman, Glendive; Carson Jessop, Pinesdale; Carson Steckelberg, Bozeman; Colter Kirkland, Hamilton; Daniel Colmenero, Manhattan; Duncan Hamilton, Bozeman; Ignatius Fitzgerald, Missoula; Levi Taylor, Laurel; Logan Straus, Billings; Owen Smith, Billings; Robert Peterson, Billings; Samuel Smith, Richey; Tanner Klumph, Missoula; and William Mortenson, Missoula.

The women’s field includes: Amanda Peterson, Billings; Becca Richtman, Butte; Carly Ryan, Helena; Emma Nelson, Missoula; Emma Stolte, Townsend; Grace Timm, Laurel; Kailee Stoppel, Billings; Lindsey Paulson, Belt; Mary Felig, Broadus; Mei-Li Stevens, Lodge Grass; Odessa Zentz, Helena; Sydney Little Light, Hardin; and Tiahna Vladic, Billings.

Last year’s winners, Zach Kughn of Butte and Sage Brooks of Missoula, are not entered. Kughn finished in 4:20.03 and Brooks in 5:07.11.

Patrick Casey of Laurel holds the men’s Montana Mile record of 4:07.9, set in 2010. The women’s record is 4:53.9, established by Lois Ricardi Keller of Gardiner in 2011.

It is the 30th edition of the men’s race and 20th for the women.

The race is scheduled to start at approximately 7:45 p.m.

Opening ceremonies begin at 7 p.m. and gates at Daylis open at 5:30 p.m.

Overall, there are 14 male runners and 13 female runners in the elite invite-only field. The runners represent some of the fastest prep, college and post-collegiate runners in the state, according to the press release.

Laura Zimmer, a BSSG Montana Mile and marketing intern, said organizers do “get calls (from runners) asking to be on the wait list” in case there is a scratch for the race.

Zimmer, a 2020 Billings Senior graduate who competed in soccer and track for the Broncs, ran in last year’s Montana Mile and finished sixth in a field of 13 in 5:19.97.

She said runners dream of winning the Mile.

“I think the most special part of it is if you win you get a Montana flag draped around you,” Zimmer said.

Hamilton, who was listed as a junior in cross country and a sophomore in track and field on Montana State’s rosters this past year, placed fifth in the men’s steeplechase at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships this season.

The Bozeman High graduate finished 14th in the men’s steeplechase at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in track and field in Eugene, Oregon, last month.

Peterson, who competed collegiately in cross country and track and field at Montana State Billings and is a 2011 Billings Skyview graduate, is a two-time Montana Mile titlist, winning the event back-to-back in 2014 and 2015 with a 4:19.5 each year. The release noted he is running in the race for the first time in five years.

Vladic is also a former Montana Mile champion, clocking a 5:06.63 to win in her debut in 2016. Vladic will be a junior at Boise State, where she competes in cross country and track and field.

Little Light, who will be a senior at Rocky Mountain College in the fall, was the runner-up at the NAIA indoor track and field championships in the mile this winter in Yankton, South Dakota. She ran a school-record time of 5:00.55.

It will be Little Light’s second Montana Mile. Last year she had a time of 5:20.38 and finished seventh.

Little Light said that she has a goal to finish better than a 5:05 — “we’ll see if that happens,” she said with a laugh.

“My goal is to win,” Little Light continued. “It would be very nice to win and have fun. My teammate (Stevens) is running it, too.”

Richtman, a senior at Montana Tech, captured the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the NAIA National Championships this year.

Admission is free to opening ceremonies.

“We just want people to get out and enjoy time with their families,” said BSSG executive director Liana Susott. “We’ll have food trucks and a band will be playing.”

Email Gazette Sports Editor John Letasky at john.letasky@406mtsports.com or follow him on Twitter at @GazSportsJohnL

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