(Editor's Note: Montana State Athletics Press Release)
BOZEMAN — Montana State will have a strong presence at the 2022 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon, which begins on Wednesday, June 8. A program-record five Bobcats are slated to participate over the course of a four-day span as they compete for All-America recognition.
Returners to the NCAA Outdoor Championships are Duncan Hamilton and Lucy Corbett.
Hamilton will be making his sixth consecutive NCAA meet. He has qualified for every cross country, indoor track and outdoor track NCAA Championship possible over the last two years. Hamilton has claimed All-America accolades three times, with his best finish a fifth-place showing at the 2021 outdoor meet a year ago in the steeplechase. The Bozeman native has high aspirations heading into the national championships next week. His season-best time of 8 minutes, 26.44 seconds, currently ranks second on the NCAA's performance list during the outdoor campaign. He recorded his lifetime best and program record mark of 8:25.70 in the steeplechase at the U.S. Olympic Trials last summer at Hayward Field.
"It's super helpful," Hamilton said of his experience at Oregon's facility. "I've raced there four times now, so I know what Hayward is all about. The glamour has kind of passed for me, so I can be collected and focus on my race.
"Last year I had other stuff on my mind, trying to get a time for Trials. This year I have my time so now all I want to do is win. I was fifth last year and I don't think I really realized how close I was to a title until after the race was over. This year, I'm not going to miss that opportunity. I think I'm ready to go."
Corbett makes her third trip to Hayward Field after also previously competing at the NCAA Championships and the US Olympic Team Trials. She has advanced to three straight NCAA meets in the women's high jump, taking 12th at last year's outdoor championships and eighth at this indoor season's meet. Corbett eyes another top-eight showing which would help her earn back-to-back First Team All-America honors. She currently is tied for sixth on the NCAA performance list this outdoor season with her clearance of 6 feet, 1.50 inches (1.87), while her lifetime best of 6-02.25 (1.89) would rank her in the top five among the NCAA competitors in the event.
"I think I can go into this one with some bigger goals because I've gone to the NCAA Championships before," Corbett said. "Last year, I was just kind of excited to be there, this year I have some bigger goals for myself. I want to place in the top eight, so I think having that experience will help calm the nerves."
Drake Schneider makes his second appearance at Hayward Field, but first at an NCAA Championship meet, after participating in last summer's U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
MSU's first men's 400-meter hurdler to advance to an NCAA Championship, Schneider heads into the meet with the seventh fastest time on the NCAA's performance list. However, Schneider clocked the fourth fastest mark between the West and East Preliminaries' qualifiers for the national championship meet. A top-eight finish in the prelims of the national meet would advance him to a finals race and assure him First Team All-America status.
"It's the first time I'll be going (to Hayward Field) for NCAA's so it's kind of fulfilling to get there," Schneider said. "After going to the regional meet, there's a good chance to get to the final and it's kind of expected. My goals are pretty high. I just have to go out there and do what got me to Eugene and run some clean races and if I make the final, I might as well just go for it."
Levi Taylor and Colby Wilson will make their debuts at Hayward Field, and at a national championship event, for the first time on Wednesday.
Taylor joins Hamilton in the men's steeplechase competition at the NCAA Championships after a breakout year in the event. The silver medalist at the Big Sky Conference Outdoor Championships, Taylor took fourth at the West Preliminaries with a personal-best time of 8:36.53. The mark, which improved on his third best time in program history in the event, was the eighth fastest at the preliminary round and stands 17th in the NCAA event this year.
Despite his debut at the event, Taylor looks to contend in the prelim races on Wednesday and join half of the 24-runner field that advances to the finals on Friday.
"It's obviously been one of my major goals," Taylor said of his qualification to the NCAA meet. "Now that I'm here, I think there's a lot more that I can do than just make it there. I think I can compete well with the top guys.
"I'm taking it step by step. I want to make the final. Once you get to the final, it's all about running as hard as you can. Anybody in the final has the potential to win. That's the goal once that happens."
Hamilton and Taylor serve as the first time since 1997, and just the second time ever, that the Bobcats have sent multiple athletes to an NCAA meet to compete in the same event.
Wilson looks to join some of the most known Bobcats ever in the pole vault when he appears at the NCAA Championships on Wednesday. Wilson will be the first men's pole vaulter to participate at a national championship since John Wurtz took 13th in the event at the 1998 meet. Ellie Rudy remains the most notable pole vaulter in the program's history. She earned individual titles indoors in 2007 and 2008 while she claimed First Team All-America finishes twice outdoors. Wilson, who holds MSU's indoor record clearance of 17-07.75, looks to improve on his outdoor best of 17-07.25. He hopes to surpass Wurtz's record mark of 18-00.50 and become MSU's first men's All-American in the event.
"I think going into it I want to try to get All-American," Wilson said of his ensuing visit to Eugene. "That would be pretty cool. I've made it to 18 feet in practice a couple months ago, but I want to get it officially in a meet. That's a big goal for me, so I'd break an outdoor school record."
A trio of Bobcats open competition at Hayward Field at 6 p.m. MT as the pole vault and steeplechase competitions each start at that time. Hamilton and Taylor's appearances in the steeplechase will be aired on ESPN2 while a feed for Wilson and the pole vault field will stream on ESPN3 (WatchESPN.com). The 400 hurdles with Schneider in the 24-runner prelims is slated to start at 7:30 p.m. MT and will be featured on the main television broadcast on ESPN2.
If Hamilton, Schneider and Taylor advance to finals races, they would take place on Friday. The steeplechase final is scheduled for 7:24 p.m. MT and the 400 hurdles are set for 8:27 p.m.
Corbett and the women's high jump group begins at 3 p.m. MT on Saturday, June 11. That event will have a stream available on ESPN3 (WatchESPN.com).