Spring has finally sprung; and so too has the MSU Outdoor Track & Field season. Vaulting from the starting gate last weekend, April 1, with promise and excitement, the team set out to Missoula for the AI Manuel Northwest Duel.
Going into the meet, the MSU squad was ranked third in the Big Sky Conference by the preseason coaches poll, behind frontrunner Northern Arizona and runner-up Southern Utah. Those preseason predictions may not have given the Cats their due respect, however. The team boasts a litany of impressive athletes, who, after showcasing a little bit of what they could do at the Bozeman Invitational, came out absolutely on fire in Missoula.
The men’s team swept all three of their opponents, drilling Montana, Eastern Washington and Idaho by an average of 73 points, including an impressive victory over Montana (117-79). Meanwhile on the women’s squad, the team beat both Eastern Washington and Idaho in impressive displays, failing only to University of Montana, who beat the Bobcats 124-77.
Exciting performances characterized both the men’s and the women’s teams. Notable performances included that of freshman Mckenna Ramsay, who won both the 400 and the 200 meter dash by a wide margin. On the men’s side, junior runner Diego Leon won both the 1500 and 5000 meter race.
Head Coach Dale Kennedy was pleased by his athletes’ successes. Kennedy, now in his 18th year as both the track and cross country director, mentioned that there was still plenty of room for growth. “It was an opportunity to find out where we are. This will certainly give us a little more input as we work toward the championships,” he said.
Even after just one scored meet, Kennedy’s eyes are clearly on the big prize: a Big Sky Conference championship. Ty Mogan, a sophomore distance runner who placed second in the the 5000 meter, echoed his coach’s sentiments. “This meet has brought some big personal bests, which helps the morale of getting better each week as the season goes on,” he said. “We, as a team, have a really good chance of getting the team title in May.”
Still, if the team wants to add a 12th championship to Kennedy’s crowded mantle, they will need to do so as a unit, which Mogan addressed with a simple shrug, saying, “teamwork makes the dream work.”
The Al Manual Northwest Dual was the first of three trips that the Bobcats will make to Missoula during the season. The next comes on April 22 for the annual Cat-Griz Dual. In the interim, the team sets out for Salt Lake City next weekend for the University of Utah Spring Classic.