OGDEN, Utah - Jason Flemmer made a major breakthrough for the Montana men's track team on Friday at the Big Sky Conference meet.
The junior won the javelin, giving the Griz their first Big Sky indoor or outdoor men's champion since 2007.
Flemmer entered the meet with the conference's top javelin mark of the season. But his title quest Friday did not lack drama.
Flemmer's teammate, junior Richard Brumbaugh, had the best throw of the preliminary round at 209 feet, 8 1/2 inches. But it was 2009 javelin champion Aaron Mettler of Eastern Washington who threw 214-0 on his first of three attempts in the finals to put the pressure on Montana's top-ranked threesome.
Flemmer had a throw of 186-1 1/2 on his first throw in the finals, then threw a title-winning 215-6 1/2 on his second attempt. Mettler, who finished second, threw in the low 200s his final two attempts.
Mettler broke up a potential podium sweep by Flemmer, Brumbaugh and freshman Justin Graff with his runner-up finish. Brumbaugh's throw of 209-8 1/2 held up for third, while Graff's final throw of 201-7 1/4 earned him fourth, giving UM 21 big points in the event.
"Anything can happen in the javelin. That's one event where you just never know," UM coach Brian Schweyen said. "A guy can come out of nowhere and have a 20-foot PR and you can be just a touch out of sync and be 20 feet below where you normally are, so for our guys to go one-three-four is great.
"They've worked hard all year, and today they went out and earned those finishes."
With eight of the meet's 21 men's events scored, Montana sits in fourth place with 41.5 points. Weber State holds a slim 55.5 to 54 lead over Northern Arizona for the top spot. The Grizzlies trail third-place Sacramento State by a point and a half.
Sophomore Lynn Reynolds placed fourth in the steeplechase to score five points for the UM men. Reynolds, who ran a 9:21.65, broke the line just three-hundredths of a second ahead of Montana State senior Matt Adams.
Freshman Austin Emry had the Big Sky's top high jump mark of 6-10 1/4 entering the meet, but he settled for a fourth-place tie Friday, going 6-7 1/4.
The women had just six of 21 events scored through Friday. The Grizzlies, who expect to have Saturday's distance events be their primary source of scoring, are in sixth place with 21 points. Northern Arizona leads with 44 points, followed by Weber State's 40.
The UM women had four scorers in Friday's five scored events.
Sophomore Nicole Ennen was one of the day's biggest surprises for the Grizzlies. Ranked ninth in the discus entering the meet, Ennen finished third and picked up six points with a throw of 146-2.
Senior Kim Tritz placed sixth in the steeplechase in 11:42.58, her second-best finish in her seventh indoor and outdoor championships appearance.
Montana's other points came in the long jump, where sophomore Jessica Leslie went 18-4 1/2 to finish seventh and freshman Lindsey Hall jumped 18-3 1/4 to place eighth.
Hall, a Missoula Big Sky grad, also ran the day's fastest 100 hurdles prelim time of 14.10.