BOZEMAN — The top competitors in the Big Sky Conference make their way to Worthington Arena to participate over a three-day span in the Big Sky Indoor Track and Field Championships starting on Thursday, Feb. 21, on the Montana State University campus. The women's pentathlon and men's heptathlon will take place on Thursday, with preliminary and final events beginning on Friday.
"There's going to be so much energy in the Fieldhouse with just the number of teams and high-level competitors that will be here," said Lyle Weese, Montana State's Director of Track and Field. "The women's race is really wide open between quite a few teams. Probably one of six teams could win the meet if they went out and had a spectacular meet. That'll be really exciting on the women's side for the team championship.
"Northern Arizona is pretty strong on the men's side, so we'll up against it, but we're still ranked up towards the top of the conference. Us and Southern Utah should have a pretty good battle."
The Bobcat track and field program has a combined 30 marks or times, with 15 each for the men and women, that are currently in line among the meet's entries to score at the championships. MSU will be led by performers in a variety of disciplines.
The men's side boasts a strong group of individuals in the jumps. Noah Martin and Wyatt Thompson-Siporenreturn from all-conference finishes a year ago. Martin is seeded third in the high jump and sixth in the pole vault, while Thompson-Siporen is the highest seed in the pole vault and second in the heptathlon.
Alec Nehring, Cameron Carroll, Sam Bloom and Christopher Lange also earned all-conference honors at the 2018 indoor meet. Nehring is seeded fourth in the shot put while Bloom and Carroll are first and fourth among entries in the 800, respectively.
Weese also noted Mitch Horning, Jadin Casey and Drake Schneider and their appearances in the sprint events for the Bobcat men in this weekend's championship meet.
Kelsi Lasota, Layne Oliver, Lexi Kyro and Hailey Phillips are MSU's returning all-conference performers from a year ago on the women's side. Heading into the 2019 meet, Lasota is currently the fourth seeded athlete in the 3,000 and Oliver is ranked 11th among the entries in the mile.
The Bobcat women will be bolstered be a crop of newcomers in the sprint events and include seniors Truanne Roginske and Courtney Stromme. Roginske broke the school record in the 60 dash and Stromme entered the all-time top 10 in the event this month.
MSU's 4x400 relay is also the top seeded team in the event with a time of 3:44.72 ran by Stromme, Haile Norred, Elisabeth Krieger and McKenna Ramsay.
MSU comes off two strong meet showings with the second Dual Meet Invitational on Feb. 8 and the Big Sky Tuner on Feb. 15. The Bobcat men and women swept the four-team opposition in the dual scoring format meet two meets ago of Idaho State, Weber State, Montana and Eastern Washington.
The MSU squads have competed in Worthington Arena for most of the indoor campaign and look to use their most recent efforts to propel them into the Big Sky meet.
"We're really excited," Weese said of his teams' outlook. "We're looking to take advantage of our home-track advantage.
"The dual meet a couple weeks ago was pretty exciting, but scoring was a little different. The conference championship scoring format really favors very high performers. It's quite a bit different in terms of scoring, but winning those duals shows that we have a well-rounded team."
Thursday's multi-events kick off with the men's 60 dash at 10 a.m. The heptathlon will conclude with the final three events starting at 10 a.m. on Friday. Running event trials and the opening field event finals begin at 3 p.m. on Friday. The final day of competition at the Big Sky Conference Championships open with the men's weight throw and women's triple jump at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday.
"I can tell that the excitement is building with the athletes," Weese said. "At the same time, they're trying to their best to stay as even as even as they can. I think that will be a big thing with the meet. We'll need to keep our emotions in check, use that energy from the moment of having conference here at home, but at the same time we can channel it and have it not take away from their performance."
The Big Sky Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships will be streamed live on Pluto TV and WatchBigSky.com. Live results are available at msubobcats.com/TrackResults. Fans can purchase tickets online on msubobcats.com/tickets or at the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse Ticket Offices.