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Johnstone sets school record in 400 meters, reaches podium twice

10 Dec 2021 | 08:01 | Track & Field

OGDEN, Utah – Montana sprinter Cade Johnstone stole the show on Saturday, racking up 16 points for the Grizzlies while setting a school record in the men’s 400 meters and reaching the podium twice.

Johnstone, a sophomore from Forsyth, Montana, ran a time of 46.58 in the men’s 400 meters, not only winning a Big Sky title in the event, but breaking Tony Coe’s 36-year-old school record (46.64). He is the first Grizzly in school history to win the men’s 400 meters (three athletes won race in the 1970s, when the distance was 440 yards).

Running in Lane 4 after winning Friday’s preliminary race, Johnstone was in fifth place for much of the race. He made his first move about midway through the race, between the second and third turns, where he jumped from fifth to third. As the runners reached the final straightaway, he was still several strides behind the first two runners, but kept gaining ground, where he moved into second place, and over the final few strides took the top position. His time currently ranks 30th in the NCAA West Region, giving him a potential opportunity to advance to regionals later this month.

“Looking back, I actually wish I would have started a little faster,” Johnstone reflected. “I waited a little too long, and probably stressed everybody out a little bit, but it worked out in the end.”

Johnstone said he knew the time he needed to break, noting he had it written down, but the biggest thing he wanted was a time that would qualify him for NCAA Regionals.

“I wanted to run something in the 46 range, something that could potentially qualify me for regionals,” Johnstone said. “When I saw my time, it was mostly relief. I hadn’t run for two outdoor seasons because of COVID and I’ve had so many injuries off and on. There were so many emotions hitting me at once. I was really excited, and I definitely wanted to win that one for my brother (Paul). Even though he’s redshirting this year, he’s still been training with me and pushing me every step of the way.”

Johnstone’s record-breaking race comes two years after he was part of Montana’s championship 4×400-meter relay team, that also set a school record. He missed last season due to injury, and has been limited during parts of this spring with an injury, as well.

Just more than an hour after his 400 meters performance, Johnstone was again on the track in the 200 meters. The sophomore again came from behind, being second-to-last midway through the race before the group hit the straightaway and Johnstone again made his move. He finished third (21.22), with a PR by more than four-tenths of a second.

Running in the Finals: Montana had nine runners advance from Friday’s preliminaries to Saturday’s finals, giving the Grizzlies ample points across eight different events.

Joining Johnstone on the podium was freshman Holly Sudol, who placed third in the 400-meter hurdles. After being seeded 10th going into the meet, Sudol recorded a 2-second PR on Friday to qualify for Saturday’s race. She was right on pace with Friday’s mark, finishing in 1:01.67.

Also on the women’s side, Montana got sixth-place finishes from freshmen Emma Normand (12.30 in the 100 meters) and Ailsa Gilbert (14.38 in the 100-meter hurdles).

For the men, the Grizzlies had two scorers in the 800 meters, with freshman Quincy Fast (1:51.61) and senior Jacob Lamb (1:52.08) placing fifth and sixth, respectively. Sophomore Kip Krebsbach was also a fifth-place finisher in the men’s 100 meters (10.72).

Field Scorers: Montana saw plenty of success from its field athletes on Friday, and that carried over on Saturday. The highlight was senior Brent Yeakey, who reached the podium in the discus with a runner-up finish (174-6).

Yeakey, who also scored Friday in the shot put, has now scored eight times during his career. He also qualified for NCAA Regionals in the shot put in 2019 and holds three schools records (indoor shot put, outdoor shot put, outdoor discus). Yeakey entered the week ranked 38th in the NCAA West Region in the discus, and potentially will have an opportunity to extend his career later this month.

Also scoring in the men’s discus was freshman Matt Ward, who threw 166-1 to finish seventh. Ward also placed ninth in the hammer throw, with a lifetime-best-throw of 187-9.

Fellow freshmen Alfred Peterson (6-5 in the men’s high jump, tied for seventh) and Autumn Morse (143-1 in the women’s javelin, seventh) also were point-scorers for the Griz. Morse came into the meet seeded 13th in the javelin, but moved up six spots with an 8-foot PR.

Final Standings: Montana’s men finished sixth with 68 points, giving the Grizzlies a top-six finish for the sixth time in the past 10 seasons. The women placed seventh with 57 points. In total 21 of Montana’s 26 scorers this week are expected to return next season, with 14 of them being freshmen.