The Flathead Valley is well represented at next week’s western prelims of the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Troy Fraley, a 2013 graduate of Glacier High School, is in the midst of a standout season at Gonzaga and is the nation’s top collegiate competitor in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Earlier this month, the Kalispell runner broke his own school record with a time of 8:39.30. He’s the only collegian in the country to surpass 8 minutes and 40 seconds this season.
Fraley, a redshirt junior, is the top seed in the event at next week’s NCAA West Prelims in Austin, Texas.
Fraley will see a few familiar faces at the elite meet.
Zach Perrin and Jake Perrin, two brothers from Lakeside and former state champion distance runners at Flathead High School, will be competing against each other in the 5K race.
Zach, a 2013 Flathead graduate and a junior at the University of Colorado, won the 5K at the Pac-12 Track and Field Championships last weekend. He clocked 13:58.48 to win his first conference title. His top time this season is 13:46.09.
Jake, a 2016 Flathead grad and true freshman at Gonzaga, will compete against Zach and 47 others in the 5K. He has a top time this season of 14:04.82. Jake holds the Montana high school state records in the 1,600-meter race and 3,200-meter race.
Makena Morley, a former Bigfork state champion and freshman at the University of Colorado, will compete in two events: the women’s 10K and 5K. She is ranked fifth in the 10K with a top time of 33:29.22. In the 5K, she’s ranked 19th with a top time of 16:02.15.
A group of local athletes competing at the University of Montana will also be making the trip to Austin. Junior Matt Quist, a Flathead grad, is tied for 39th in the high jump, and senior Daniel Jones, of Columbia Falls, will enter the meet ranked 31st in the javelin. Bigfork native and UM junior Emily Cheroske will race in the 800.
Another well-known Montanan, Christina Aragon of Billings will compete in the 1,500-meter race. The Stanford freshman is seeded sixth with a top time of 4:13.43.
The top 12 qualifiers in each event will advance to the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships, June 7-10 in Eugene, Oregon.