Jackets Enter GNAC Indoor Championships with Confidence
BILLINGS, Mont. – The Montana State Billings track and field team enters the seventh annual Great Northwest Athletic Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships this weekend in Nampa, ID with confidence. The meet gets underway at 9 a.m. at Jackson Indoor with the women’s shot put and high jump. The first running event will be the prelims of the women’s and men’s 60 meter hurdles at 11 a.m. Fans may follow the action on the GNAC web site which will be updated with results periodically during the meet.
The Yellowjackets have qualified 14 men and 15 women for the championships. This year the GNAC went to a qualifying system where athletes had to make either the provisional or automatic standard to be eligible to compete in the championship meet.
Coach Dave Coppock is looking towards Brandon Pearce, ranked eighth in the 60 meters and fifth in the 200 meters as one of his best chances to score points on the men’s side. Tyson Vanderby, who is eighth in the 800 meters as well as Branden Martinez in the pole vault and Tanner Rottrup in the shot put are also expected to place in the points.
On the women’s side, Erika Halle is ranked 11th in the 60 meters, third in the 200 meters and 10th in the long jump. Justine Simons enters the meet ranked eighth in the 60 meters and ninth in the 200 meters.
The Jackets’ best chances of placing athletes in the top eight are the women’s throwers who have qualified five individuals among the 13 total qualifiers. Brook Berg, Kelsee Clark, Hilary Gourneau, Lexi Halvorson and Kacie Vanderloos are all ranked between the third through 10th positions among the GNAC leaders.
Coppock feels that the Jackets are still a young program but have taken more athletes to the championships each year. During the regular season this year, the Jackets have broken nearly every indoor school record as well as qualified the largest number of athletes for the championships since the program re-emerged in 2008.