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LINCOLN, Neb. - Montana's Loni Perkins-Judisch wrapped up her track career Saturday with an eighth-place finish in the 400-meter dash at the NCAA Midwest Region Championships.

The senior ran 53.98 seconds in her first regional final. She needed to place fifth to qualify for nationals.

North Texas sophomore Ciara Smith claimed the fifth automatic qualifying spot with a time of 53.41. Texas A&M freshman Jessica Beard dominated the event, winning in 51.47.

Perkins-Judisch also anchored Montana's 1,600 relay team that finished 11th in 3:43.84. The time was just off of the 21-year-old school record of 3:43.13.

Perkins-Judisch was joined on the relay by senior Stephanie Radke, sophomore Erin Clark of Frenchtown and freshman Jenna Haven.

Sophomore Kara DeWalt of Darby finished 13th in the women's steeplechase, shaving more than 20 seconds off her school record of 10:50.73 to finish in 10:30.36.

Senior Curtis Bean of Eureka was 11th in the hammer with a throw of 193 feet, 7 inches. Bean hit the mark with his opening throw before fouling in his final two attempts.

Freshman Lynn Reynolds of Dillon finished 14th in the men's steeplechase, running 9:13.78.

Three area products have qualified for nationals as members of the Oregon team. Kasey Harwood of Polson placed fifth in the 400 hurdles with a time of 59.78 at the West Regional in Northridge, Calif.

Junior teammates Zoe Nelson of Kalispell and Kalindra McFadden, a former Belgrade standout, previously qualified for nationals. Nelson will compete in the 10,000 and McFadden in the heptathlon on June 11-14 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Idaho standout Melinda Owen of Polson suffered a major disappointment in the West Regional. She entered the competition with the NCAA's best vault, caught a bout of bad luck and no-heighted.

Owen will miss nationals for the second consecutive season because NCAA rules require athletes to finish in the top 12 of their regional in order to earn an at-large bid to the championship meet.

"I'm kind of speechless about Melinda right now," Idaho coach Wayne Phipps said in a press release. "She's a senior in her final season and this happens. She has a real chance to be a national champion and it's really, really sad that we don't get a chance to see her fulfill that."

Junior teammate K.C. Dahlgren, of Missoula, came in ninth in the women's pole vault at regionals. She cleared 12-11þ.

Notes: Montana State had a pair of area athletes shooting for a spot at nationals in the Midwest Region. Senior Taylor Hensen of Deer Lodge was 10th in the men's javelin at 193-4 and and junior Dustin Degen of Missoula was 11th at 190-1.

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