HELENA — A Christmas gift came early for the Carroll College indoor track team.
A selection of the track team is headed to Bozeman on Saturday, taking part in the Bobcat Preview. The meet used to be an intrasquad to give Montana State an in-house event to prepare for the rest of its indoor schedule.
Saints coach Harry Clark was delighted to receive an invitation.
“The biggest thing is the competition,” Clark said. “Let the young kids put the uniform on for the first time, get them in a high pressure situation.”
The Saints used to have to wait until January to get on the track. Clark loves that his teams have a chance to be indoors before the holiday season. The Saint will use this first meet as a measuring stick for their training during the holiday break.
Carroll joins MSU Billings and the distance team from the University of Montana as the invitees.
The Saints are taking 48 athletes to Bozeman, a partial roster in this first event. The roster will mostly be returners from last season’s indoor team with a few freshmen sprinkled in.
“We don’t want to throw (all of the) freshmen into the piranha pile right away to crush their dreams of being a college athlete,” Clark joked. The majority of kids are pretty excited.”
Some of the top returners for the Saints include distance runners Janie Reid and Samantha Mundel, who was an All-American in the 3,000-meter last year. Keely Ehmann and Monica White also return after running legs on the national-championship 4x400 relay last season alongside Brianna Olson and Kara Barth. It was the first relay championship in Carroll history.
The 4x400 relay team will be intriguing. MSU won the Big Sky Conference title last season in the race, and the Saints are national champions.
“It’s recruiting season and there’ll be kids in the building,” Clark said coyly.
The Saints’ women finished their best, too, ending the national meet in fourth place.
The Saints will also debut sprinter Kudakwashe Nyahuma, a freshman from Zimbabwe. Nyahuma will have a test as MSU Billings' Sam Zook is expected to run. Zook is coming off a solid 2016-17 season in the sprints.
“He’s the fastest in the country in D-II,” Clark said of Zook. “That will be a nice battle.”
Carroll will be looking to hit qualifying marks for the indoor national meet. Clark said it “would be nice to pick up five or so qualifications” Saturday. Whether that happens, the coach is excited to see his teams run.
The meet starts at 11 a.m. in the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse.