MISSOULA — The Big Sky Conference outdoor track and field championships will feature 15 league athletes who are ranked in the top 30 in the nation for one or more events.
After the heptathlon and decathlon concluded on Thursday, the individual events will begin on Friday and run through Saturday at Dornblaser Field in Missoula. It's the first time since 2009 that Missoula is hosting the championships.
"There's some athletes that are absolutely incredible," Montana head coach Brian Schweyen said. "I think just across the board you're going to see a lot of these athletes moving on to the regional championships, which is the pre-national meet, and you've got to be really good to get to that meet. You'll see a lot of these athletes moving on to that."
On the men’s side, Northern Arizona leads the way in national rankings. Tyler Day sits atop Division I in the men’s 5,000-meter run, Geordie Beamish is fourth and Luis Grijalva is 15th. Blaise Ferro is sixth in the 10,000-meter run, while Day is seventh. The Lumberjacks have three runners in the 1,500-meter run ranked in the top 13 in the country: Beamish is eighth, Grijalva is 10th and Theo Quax is 13th.
"The men's distance events in our conference are almost always really good," Montana State head coach Lyle Weese said. "Kind of all over, things have improved so much. ... There's just so many that are stronger than they have been in recent memory and just have been continuing to improve over the last number of years."
Southern Utah’s Frank Harris III is tied for ninth in the high jump. Teammate Skyler Porcaro is 16th in the javelin. George Espino ranks 16th in the 800-meter run, while Kasey Knevelbaard is 29th in the 800 and 27th in the 1,500-meter run.
Eastern Washington’s Larry Still is ranked 18th in the pole vault.
Weber State’s Nathan Dunivan sits at 19th in the discus.
Idaho State’s Treyshon Malone is 28th in the men’s long jump.
On the women’s side, Southern Utah’s Angie Nickerson ranks 15th in the 10,000-meter run and 19th in the 5,000-meter run.
Weber State’s Kate Sorensen is 19th in the 400-meter hurdles.
Sacramento State’s Shilah Bedingfield comes in 27th in the 200-meter run.
While no Montana or Montana State athletes competing over the next two days are ranked in the top 30, there are five men and five women who are ranked in the top 95 in the nation.
For the men, Montana State's Alexander Lewis is 36th in the long jump. Montana's Jensen Lillquist is 54th in the javelin. Montana's Brent Yeakey is tied for 66th in the shot put. Montana State's Drake Schneider is 76th in the 400-meter hurdles. Montana State's Duncan Hamilton is 85th in the 3,000 steeplechase.
Among the women, Montana's Hana Feilzer is 34th in the hammer throw. Montana State's Kelsi Lasota is 40th in the 10,000-meter run. Montana State's Anna French is 66th in the 3,000 steeplechase. Montana State's Carley Vonheeder is 82nd in the javelin throw. Montana State's Lucy Corbett is 93rd in the high jump.
There's one Montana native who's competing for an out-of-state school at the championships ranked in the top 95. Southern Utah's Aidan Reed, a Helena High grad, is 80th in the men's 10,000-meter run.