Flathead’s Quist Signs with UM Track

Quist won the Class AA state title last month

By Beacon Staff

The Montana men’s track and field program has signed eight prep standouts to National Letters of Intent, including recent Flathead graduate Matt Quist.

Joining the Grizzlies in 2014-15 will be three athletes from Montana and five from Washington, California and Arizona.

Signing out of Montana high schools were Alex Mustard of Missoula Big Sky, Quist and Sterling Reneau of Missoula Sentinel.

Quist went a state-best 6-9 in the high jump this spring, and he won the Class AA state title last month with a jump of 6-7.

“Matt can come in right away and make a big impact for us,” head coach Brian Schweyen said. “I think he can come in and do what Lee has done.”

Mustard had senior-year bests of 10.95 in the 100 meters and 22.57 in the 200 despite having his season shortened because of an appendectomy in March. Last month he finished second at the Class AA state meet in the 100 meters.

Reneau placed second at the Class AA meet in the 200 and 400 meters and finished fourth in the 100 meters. His season-best time in the 400 of 48.74 ranked second in the state. His season-best time of 22.05 in the 200 ranked third.

He also ran legs of Sentinel High’s fourth-place 4×100-meter relay and fifth-place 4×400-meter relay teams.

Both will join Big Sky High product Drew Owens on the Grizzlies. Owens became a first-time Big Sky Conference champion last month in the 400-meter hurdles and is a three-time NCAA West Regional qualifier in the event.

Montana signed 13 newcomers to its women’s program this spring, but the Grizzlies did not lose as many athletes to graduation on the men’s side, though it was an accomplished group.

Austin Emry and Keith Webber were both 2014 Big Sky Conference indoor and outdoor champions and left the program as UM record holders, and Kaleb Horlick and Lukas Scherer were both All-Big Sky Conference performers in their careers.

“We didn’t have as many graduate on the men’s side as the women, so we didn’t have as many open spots to fill, but this is still a great class coming in,” said UM coach Brian Schweyen.

“We’ve got some local talent and some talent coming in from out of state as well, and they’ll be filling a lot of areas where we’re losing athletes or filling areas where we’ve been lacking.”

The men’s team is coming off its best indoor and outdoor finishes in more than a decade, with a third-place indoor finish and fourth outdoor.

While his women’s team — third indoor, second outdoor — is within striking distance of the top programs in the Big Sky Conference, Schweyen’s men’s team has a larger point differential to make up.

The Grizzlies finished 43 points behind the indoor champion and nearly 70 points behind the outdoor champion.

“We have to be more well-rounded if we’re going to start bridging the gap, and this group gets us closer to achieving that,” said Schweyen. “We have some event areas that are starting to move forward. When that continues we’re going to be up there where the women are.”

Emry graduated, but Lee Hardt, of Billings, will be back as a senior next year. He has finished tied for third or higher in the high jump at five of his first six appearances at Big Sky indoor and outdoor championships and is a two-time NCAA West Regional qualifier.

Signing from out of state were Jakob Alme of Phoenix, Ariz. (Desert Vista HS); Charlie Bush of Poway, Calif. (Poway HS); Jensen Lillquist of Ellensburg, Wash. (Ellensburg HS); Dawit Mengistu of Tumwater, Wash. (Tumwater HS); and Nathan Wellington of Rocklin, Calif. (Whitney HS).

Alme went 15-6 in the pole vault this spring and was runner-up at Arizona’s Division I state meet, and Lillquist won the Washington Class 2A state title in the javelin with a career-best throw of 198-0.

Bush, who has gone 22-3.5 in the long jump, 6-7 in the high jump and 15-9 in the pole vault, should develop into an excellent multi-events athlete, a void Montana will have with the graduation of Emry.

Mengistu, who will join the Grizzlies in August as a 16-year-old, and Wellington will bolster Montana’s distance crew. Both will compete at the longer 5,000- and 10,000-meter distances.

Mengistu has Ethiopian lineage, but he’s lived in the U.S. his entire life.