Track and Field

Flathead Valley Athletes Shine at Big Sky Championships

Graduates from local high schools won multiple individual titles at conference track and field meet

By Micah Drew
Ben Perrin competes in a meet for Montana State University. | Courtesy of Montana State Athletics

Competing in the Big Sky Conference Track and Field Championships over the weekend, multiple athletes from the Flathead Valley became champions or contributed to team titles.  

Beginning on May 10, athletes from the 10 Big Sky Conference schools ran, threw and jumped around Nottingham Field at the University of Northern Colorado. At the end of the four-day meet, Northern Arizona University had clinched both the men’s and women’s team titles, with Montana State University finishing second on both sides.  

Ben Perrin, who ran for Flathead High School, added 16 points to the Bobcats’ team score, helping them to a second-place team finish. Perrin defended his 10,000-meter title from last spring in the final race on Friday evening. Running most of the race’s 25 laps with his teammate Matthew Richtman, Perrin unleashed a huge finishing kick over the final 600 meters to become only the third Bobcat to win two Big Sky 10,000-meter titles. Perrin also finished third in the 5,000-meter run.

“Ben finishes really strong in races, so when he’s close toward the end that’s a really good sign for him,” Bobcats head coach Lyle Weese said in a press release. “He’s incredibly fit right now, and very prepared.”

Perrin will compete at the West Regional meet in two weeks aiming to qualify for the NCAA Championships.

Also competing for the Bobcats, two Glacier graduates made their first outdoor conference appearances. Freshman Sam Ells ran the 1,500 meters finishing seventh, before doubling back in the 5,000-meter run finishing 14th, while sophomore Taylor Brisendine finished sixth in the triple jump and eighth in the long jump.

Evan Todd throws the javelin at the Big Sky Conference Championships. Courtesy of Montana Sports Information

Two athlete for the University of Montana earned champion-status in field disciplines. Griz junior Evan Todd was the heavy favorite entering the javelin competition as the defending champion. All six of Todd’s throws at the meet would have won, with a top mark of 222-04.

“It feels great, it’s expected,” Todd said after his win, according to a UM Athletics press release. “I came in with the mindset today that I was going to compete. It didn’t really matter what I was going to throw today, it just mattered that I came out on top.”

Todd’s goal all season has been to reach the NCAA Championships. To do so he’ll need to finish in the top 24 at the West Regional.

“Evan simply did what Evan does every track meet this outdoor season. His consistency has been top notch and he went out there and controlled that competition,” said Griz head track and field coach Doug Fraley. “We’ve said it before, but he’s going to give himself a real opportunity at the regional meet because of that consistency.”

On the other side of the spectrum, Erin Wilde from Whiteish became a conference champion as a relatively untested freshman.

Erin Wilde won the Big Sky Conference Championships high jump. Courtesy of Montana Sports Information

Wilde had a season-best in the high jump of 5-08 and was ranked third in the conference but cleared not only her season-best height but a new personal best of 5-09.25 during the meet. She ended up tied with Montana State’s Lucy Corbett but won the tiebreaker due to fewer misses at a lower height.

“I’m trying not to cry of happiness. It feels really good,” Wilde said after stepping off the podium. “I had a lot of butterflies at the beginning of the competition. I was going up to Morgan and Erica (Fraley) for advice, and it just feels so good to win it and have that support. I’m also super proud of Morgan and everyone that jumped today.”

Wilde is the first Griz champion in the high jump since 1996.

“For her to be able to come in as a freshman jumping against so many good upperclassmen, it was a deep high jump field, and for her to keep making bars and then tie her PR,” Fraley said. “Then boom she’s over another bar, and that’s just tremendous for a freshman. The best thing about that is she is a young lady from Whitefish, Montana, and she represented the Griz well today.”

Bryn Morley, a 2018 graduate of Bigfork High School contributed 13 points to NAU’s victory with a runner-up finish in the 1,500-meter run, running a time of 4:35.99, and a fourth-place finish in the 5,000-meter in 17:05.77.

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