BOZEMAN — The Montana State track and field team continued its upward trend with another solid series of performances at their Bobcat Challenge meet on Friday and Saturday.
Competing as a full team for the first time that calendar year, the Bobcats hosted Idaho State’s other program at the Big Sky Conference, as well as the Montana State Billings and several local Frontier Conference schools. The Bobcats won 11 individual events and both 1,600-meter relays at the meet, which had no team classification, on Saturday.
“Overall, we saw a lot of personal bests, which was really exciting for our entire track team,” said MSU head coach Lyle Weese. “That was a great sign that we’re on the right track.”
The distance team wasted no time at their first meeting in 2023 as Duncan Hamilton broke his own school record in the 3,000m and Chris Bianchini in the 800m for fourth place, a 1 minute post-conversion time and 49.94 seconds ran program history. Both men are in the top 25 in Division I, while Hamilton is second and Bianchini is 25th.
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Hamilton, who ran the fastest overall time at last year’s Husky Classic in 7:45.40, broke his own school record when his 8:00.38 converted to 7:43.28. The Bozeman High School senior walked wire to wire, leading a group of bobcats through the first mile in 4:17.11. He would finish in a final 400m split of 61.8 seconds, saving his best lap with a 30.8 second split for the last.
“This was their first meeting in 2023 and they seemed to be firing on all cylinders,” Weese said of the distance team. “It is incredible for Duncan Hamilton to contest a race like this as his first race of 2023. That will most likely be the mark that puts him in another NCAA championship.
Hamilton is second in Division I behind Washington’s Kieran Lumb, whose 7:43.27 is just a hundredth of a second faster. Hamilton qualified for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in the 3,000 meters last year and received All-American honors.
Hamilton wasn’t the only long-distance runner with an outstanding 3,000-meter dash. Levi Taylor followed with a post-conversion time of 8:00.93, which ranks eighth all-time at MSU. Over in the women’s race, Mya Dube and true novice Lindsey Paulson went back and forth during the 3,000 meter dash before Dube finally took the lead on the tenth lap. Dube would win with a personal best of 9:30.90 — the seventh best in program history — and Paulson’s 9:39.02, she felt, was only just short of the program’s top 10 leaderboard. Paulson’s 9:39.02 is fifth in Big Sky at press time.
In the middle distance races, Bianchini led all four laps in the men’s 800m, breaking away from the field in the second half and crossing the finish line in an converted time of 1:49.94. Not only is Bianchini’s time the all-time Big Sky 800-meter time, but he also ranks 25th in the NCAA and fourth all-time at MSU.
“Performing an adjusted sub-1:50 time so early in the season – specifically leading the race from start to finish – is a great indicator of what he can do both this indoor and outdoor season,” Weese said.
Over in the circle, Leah Klein continued her stellar season with another personal best weight throw. Klein’s first throw of 59 feet, 8.25 inches ended up being her best throw, not only finishing second at hit, but also sixth all-time in program history. Klein entered the season without breaking the 55-foot mark in the weight throw. She has surpassed that in all three encounters this season.
The jumping team also had a solid series of performances: Anna Trudnowski cleared the high jump with a personal best 5-7, Taylor Brisendine won the triple jump with a season-best 38-2, and Elena Carter won the long jump with a jump of 18- 7. In the men’s triple jump, Ian Fosdick won with a score of 47-11.75.
• Matt Furdyk maintained his winning streak in the weight throw with a score of 61-11.75. Furdyk has won the weight throw in all three competitions he has competed in.
• Fellow pitcher Jordan Fink won the women’s shot put with a score of 46:5.25, tying her best time of the season and marking her second shot put win at Worthington Arena this year.
• Montana State won the sprint event and led Macy White’s 60-meter win with a pre-calculated time of 7.56 seconds.
• True freshman Jaeden Wolff won the 200m with a converted time of 25.08, placing 10th in Big Sky.
• True freshman Caroline Hawkes, competing in a single run against her 1,600m relay mates, won the 400m with a 56.87.
• MSU freshman sprinters Xavier Simpson and Stryder Todd-Fields were the top finishers in the 60-meter and 200-meter, respectively. Todd-Fields’ 200 meter time of 22.03 seconds was a season best; It ranks sixth in the Big Sky Conference and second among all freshmen.
• The Bobcat quartet of Morgan Hanson, Caroline Hawkes, Giulia Gandolfi and Peyton Garrison posted the best relay time in the 1,600 meters in 3:47.40, which is the second-best time in the conference this season.
• MSU’s 1,500-man team, consisting of Alex Hershey, Bianchini, Julian Hazen and Will Anderson, comfortably won the event with a converted time of 3:18.47. Her time ranks third in the Big Sky.
All new top 10 brands in program history achieved at the meet:
• Men’s 3,000m: Duncan Hamilton, 7:43.28 – new school record
• Men’s 800: Chris Bianchini, 1:49.94 – 4th all-time at MSU
• Men’s 3,000 meters: Levi Taylor, 8:00.93 – 8th all-time at MSU
• Women’s weight throw: Leah Klein, 59-8.25 – 6th all-time at MSU
• Women’s 3,000 meters: Mya Dube, 9:30.90 – 7th all-time at MSU
• Women’s high jump: Anna Trudnowski, 5-7 – all-time T-10 at MSU
The Bobcats have two weeks to prepare for their second trip of the season to Spokane, Wash. to compete in the WSU Combined Events and Multis taking place February 2-4 at The Podium. For all meeting information and updates, please visit the Men’s and Women’s Athletics Schedule pages at msubobcats.com.