MSU Billings wins 3 GNAC Track and Field titles

(Photo courtesy MSU Billings)

(MSU Billings release)

MONMOUTH, Ore. – Sam Zook and the men’s 4×100 meter relay team joined Isaiah Girard (high jump) on the winner’s podium as the Montana State University Billings track and field teams netted three titles from the Great Northwest Athletic Conference outdoor championships, which wrapped up Saturday afternoon on the campus of Western Oregon University.

The Yellowjackets finished the meet eighth in the men’s events with 38 total points and 10th in the women’s events with nine points. Seattle Pacific University edged out Central Washington to win the GNAC women’s title for the second straight season with 166 points. Western Washington took the men’s title with 173 points for their seventh victory in program history.

“We had a really good day as a team and I was especially proud of our guys who won events this year,” commented head coach Jon Woehl. “A lot of our athletes set personal bests but with those who didn’t, there wasn’t a big drop off in finish so certainly no one should hang their head. The GNAC is a tough conference so I was proud how all of them competed. A lot of our seniors were able to end their careers on a positive note as well and they contributed a lot to our program.”

Zook made it back-to-back outdoor titles after taking first place in the men’s 100 meter dash in 11.01 seconds. Zook ran a few ticks faster than Harry Horwath (Central Washington) in Saturday’s finals after qualifying first on Friday.

The Yellowjackets posted a winning time of 41.28 seconds in the men’s 4×100 meter dash. The assembled team included Kaelen Shay (first leg), Zook (second leg), Mason Schram (third leg), and Rahkei Eyer (fourth leg). The foursome finished ahead of Northwest Nazarene, who crossed the line in 41.94 seconds. The ‘Jackets also beat a school record 41.37 seconds, set by Lamont Frisby, Schram, Shay, and Zook last season. MSUB also won the men’s 4×100 meter relay for the second straight season.

Zook was nearly a part of three titles on Saturday, but came up just short in the 200 meter dash and finished fourth with a time of 22.18 seconds. Adam Brown (Concordia) was the race winner and posted a time of 22.07 seconds.

Kaelen Shay earned three points in the 100 meter dash after finishing sixth in 11.35 seconds.

“I’m really proud of Kaelen,” said Woehl. “His first year on the team he was around 20th in the conference and he’s just slowly progressed every season. This year he made the 100 meter finals and finished sixth. It was a good way to end his career.”

After finishing seventh in steeplechase on Friday, Nikki Aiken came in 12th in the 5000 meter run with a time of 18:15.89. She crushed her previous career best time of 19:06.03 set at the Yellowjacket/Battlin’ Bears Open in March and marked one of the biggest improvements for a single event among the many competitors at the GNAC Championships.

“I think that Nikki’s 5K time today really speaks for itself,” Woehl said. “To come in ranked 23rd and move up to 12th was a truly great accomplishment.”

Ivan Colmenero ran the men’s 5000 meters in 15:54.78 for a 22nd place finish. Sean Miller (Simon Fraser) won the event with a top time of 14:46.49.

Brady Ostermiller marked 43.68 meters to take 14th in men’s hammer throw. Three athletes made the top-20 for the MSUB women in hammer throw. Hailey Steinbeisser led the trio with an eighth place mark of 40.98 meters and scored one team point. Taylor Stringari was 11th at 37.58 meters. Abbie Lohof finished 13th (35.78 meters) and Hannah Nessan took 14th (25.61 meters).

“Hailey may not have had her best mark ever in hammer but I think anytime you can make the top eight in an event and score points for the team, it’s an achievement.”

The ‘Jackets had three athletes in triple jump including Shaniah Schwend (10th, 11.00 meters), Janessa Williams (11th, 10.84 meters), and Brenna Beckett (14th, 10.42 meters). Beau Peaslee did not score in men’s javelin.

Cordell Cummings (Western Washington) was awarded track athlete of the meet, as was Caroline Kurgat (Alaska Anchorage). In the field, Jake Knight (Northwest Nazarene) and HarLee Ortega (Central Washington) took the honors. Dalton Rasmussen (Concordia) and Sidney Trinidad (Central Washington) took home performance of the meet awards.

MSU Billings track and field closed out its 2018-19 season at the GNAC outdoor championships this weekend. The team made appearances in nine outdoor meets this spring, including the Yellowjacket/Battlin’ Bears Open at Laurel High School on March 30. Isaiah Girard and Brady Ostermiller hold provisional marks for NCAA Division II national qualification. Girard is 20th among Division II athletes and has the best chance of the pair to gain a national bid.

THE BUZZ: Sam Zook was named St. Vincent Healthcare male athlete of the day for his performances in the 100 and 200 meter dash, as well as the men’s 4×100 meter dash. Nikki Aiken earned St. Vincent female athlete of the meet for vastly improving her career best in the women’s 5000 meter run…The MSUB finished one team higher than the ninth place GNAC indoor championships mark…Zook’s best 200 meter time this spring came up two-hundredths of a second short of an NCAA provisional mark for the event…Last season, the ‘Jackets took in four individual titles at the GNAC outdoor championships.

Casey Conlon

Casey Conlon

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