MSU Track and Field had a successful array of performances on the night of Feb. 7 in Worthington Arena. The team competed against UM and Carroll College in an effort to win spots on the podium and reach qualifying times for the upcoming Big Sky Conference meet.
A number of Bobcats successfully hit the marks they needed to solidify their spots for conference. Sophomore pole vaulter, Casey Teska, flew to new heights, reaching a personal best of 13’1.5” or four meters, ranking second in the Big Sky. On the men’s side, senior Ryan Kropp, who was unable to compete in the 2013 outdoor season, made a comeback on Friday and hit qualifying marks with his exceptional vault of 16’2.75” or 4.95 meters.
Kropp attributes his results to his individual preparation and focus on being able to successfully compete at conference. “To prepare mentally before track meets I try to stay relaxed and positive. Before I pole vault I think about the sequence of poles I plan to jump on, what my ideal bar clearance is for the meet, and the number of total jumps I feel capable of taking at competition intensity, to reach that bar height,” he said.
On the sprinting side, seniors Chris Wilson and Michael Tobin proved how their hard work and focus have paid off by posting consistently high finishes this season. Wilson won both the 55 and the 200 meter dash, also achieving personal bests, with Tobin right behind him in both events.
With performances like these, the Bobcats held places on the podium after every event. Senior jumper Amber Amsbaugh stated, “We all have been training since school started and never take our mind off our long term goals, whether that’s making conference or nationals. Personally I’m ranked second in the conference, behind by three-quarters of an inch, so I am hoping to jump my best marks at conference and get the gold.”
A number of the victories on Friday were from younger athletes who are showing great starting performances that will only improve in years to come. Sophomore Alisa Gilchrist won the high jump with a personal best height of 5’5” or 1.65 meters. Freshman Jenette Northey led the pack in the tedious 5,000 meter run, a solid 25 laps around the track, and qualified for Conference after altitude adjustments were made to her time.
Currently, the men’s team has 11 automatic qualifiers for Big Sky while the women have 12. According to Kropp, these numbers correspond to the athletes’ training schedules and the coaches’ strategies. “The Big Sky Championships are the focus of each season, and all our training cycles are set up to allow athletes to peak at the championship,” he said.
The athletes proved their strengths this weekend and made huge strides in preparation for the Big Sky Conference meet. Next up, the team will compete at home again in the Montana State Double Dual on Feb. 14.