The Montana-Montana State rivalry is clear-cut in most sports. Throw your best out there and go for bragging rights.
In track and field, it's not quite that simple.
To be sure, the Grizzlies will do their best to sweep the Bobcat men and women in the rivals' annual dual meet, Saturday at Dornblaser Field. The UM men have a decent chance to beat the Bobcats for a second straight year, which hasn't happened since 1985-86, while the UM women face an uphill battle to snap MSU's six-year winning streak.
At the same time, UM coach Tom Raunig is concerned with advancing a few more qualifiers to the Big Sky Conference championships, less than two weeks away in Bozeman.
"The athletes who have qualified, we'll put them in as many events as they can be effective," Raunig said. "The ones who haven't qualified, we'll put them in their best event first, and then maybe something else in addition. It can make for difficult decisions at times."
A power poll Web site produced by Idaho State projects a sweep for MSU, by scores of 112-91 for the men and 122-80 for the women.
"But neither team will enter athletes in exactly the way that produced those scores," said MSU coach Dale Kennedy. "All of that is on paper, and you can never account for the intangibles."
The biggest one might be that the meet will be held in Missoula for the second straight year. It was supposed to be held in Bozeman, but MSU is still renovating its track in preparation for the conference meet.
The UM men are paced by high jumpers Jas Gill and Dan Casey, who rank 1-2 in the Big Sky and have qualified for the NCAA regionals; javelin throwers Doug Lefler and Dan Brubaker, who rank 1-4 in conference and are also headed to the regionals; Ted Cordeiro, the school record holder in the hammer, along with fellow throwers Pete Hamilton, BJ McKay and Derin Gebhardt; and hurdlers Justin Morse and Andrew Levin.
MSU figures to dominate the middle distance and distance races, where UM standouts Scott McGowan and Antony Ford have been forced out by injuries. MSU's Lyle Weese, Kevin Clary, Kevin Murphy and Casey Jermyn are all regionally ranked.
MSU's sprints and relays could be bolstered by football players Corey Smith and Joey Thomas, who recently wrapped up spring drills. UM will counter with football cornerback Tuff Harris, the state prep 100-meter record holder.
Harris still has a chance to qualify for the Big Sky meet, and Raunig has hopes for several other Griz, including Brad Lewis in the 1,500, Skyler Perry in the 800, Drew Reppe in the 400 and Richie Pemberton in the steeplechase.
The UM women lack MSU's overall strength, but could make a run behind senior standouts Suzanne Krings and Renee Dunn.
Krings, an NCAA provisional qualifier in the heptathlon, could have a busy day. She's entered in the 100 hurdles, long jump, triple jump and high jump, as well as a relay. The best race of the day could be the hurdles, where Krings has beaten conference leader Lisa Svaleson of MSU.
Dunn will be favored to sweep the long jump and triple jump, events where she's qualified for regionals.
Elsewhere, UM can turn to pole vaulters Kari Wilson and Amy Weddell, who qualified for regionals last week; javelin thrower Jen Stearns, who is within one inch of the regional qualifying mark; jumper Anne Sheehy; 400 runner Andrea Huntley; hurdler Mariah Guilfoyle, and distance runners Lauren Keithly and Kerry Bogner.
Among the women shooting for Big Sky slots are Jamie Miller in the 800 and 1,500, Mara Bronson in the 800 and Sam Gilbert in the 400 hurdles.
MSU, however, should dominate the throws behind Jen Allen, and has the meet's best sprinter in Lacy Hinzpeter and distance runner in Ariana Lee.
"Their women look very tough, while their men and our men look almost too close to call," Raunig said.
The meet will also include athletes from a track club in Calgary, Alberta, although the won't figure in the scoring.