13 Dec 2021 | 10:04 | Track and Field
While focus is now on the 2022 indoor and outdoor track & field seasons, over the past month Montana has added 10 future student-athletes, with the newcomers set to join the program next fall.
“I am so pleased with the progress of our coaching staff in finding quality young men and women to join our program next fall,” head coach Clint May said. “We are not finished, but what a great start.”
May was particularly pleased with the program’s ability to keep local talent in state, with eight of the newcomers hailing from the Treasure State.
“One of our goals as a program is to thoroughly share our program, the university and our vision for the future with the best high school track & field athletes that Montana has,” May said. “We want to gain the trust of every track & field fan, fanatic and family in this state. Simply, Montana – as small as it may be in population – produces good track & field. Our current freshman class shows that we did well last year in Montana, and looking at these new Montana names, you can see that we are doing well again this year.”
Additionally, Montana was able to go outside of its state borders to find some of the region’s top talent.
“Having Kara and Lily commit to the University of Montana is a huge blessing,” May said. “Every year we find gold from neighboring states. These three look to be strong additions to our sprints and jumps areas.”
Below is a look at Montana’s additions so far, with more expected throughout the winter:
With one season remaining at Hamilton High School in Montana, Cole is already a state champion, winning the 3,200 meters at the Class A-B state track meet in May (9:49.00). Cole also finished second in the 800 meters (1:58.17), second in the 4×400-meter relay (3:28.44) and fourth in the 1,600 meters (4:34.23).
In addition to his track accomplishments, Cole proudly has beaten all of the Plants vs. Zombies video games. He also enjoys spending time outdoors, including fishing, hunting, hiking, skiing and rock climbing. Cole intends to study wildlife biology at Montana.
Kirkland will come to Montana following a spectacular career down the Bitterroot Valley at Hamilton High School, where he is already a two-time state champion. As a junior in 2021, Kirkland won Class A-B state titles in both the 800 meters (1:56.85) and 1,600 meters (4:29.05). The talented athlete also finished second in the 4×400-meter relay – running anchor, two spots after current and future teammate Lane Cole – and third in the pole vault (12-6).
Kirkland comes from an athletic family, with his mother, Brenda, swimming at the University of Wisconsin, and his father, Joe, running cross country at Lockhaven University. Away from the track, Kirkland enjoys fishing, hunting, snowboarding and playing the guitar. He intends to study business administration.
Mattson will graduate from Prairie High School in Vancouver, Washington, where she was born and raised. She has done a little bit of everything for her high school team, including sprints (100, 200 and 400 meters), jumps (long and triple) and hurdles (100 and 300). During her junior season, Mattson won every competition she competed in, including the 100-meter hurdles (15.11), 300-meter hurdles (46.08), long jump (17-5) and triple jump (37-9.5) at the district meet.
At Montana, she hopes to try the heptathlon, as well. Mattson intends to major in psychology.
A local kid, McDonald was born in Missoula and will be a 2022 graduate of nearby Seeley-Swan High School. McDonald will be a thrower for the Griz, specializing in the shot put and discus, and intends to study fire science at Montana. During his junior season, he won all 13 competitions in the discus (PR of 164-10), including Montana Class AA-C state titles in both the discus and shot put (52-8.25).
Away from competition, he lists being outside, mountain biking, snowboarding, backpacking and fishing as some of his favorite hobbies.
McGree comes to Montana from Butte, where she will graduate in the spring from Butte Central High School. For the Griz, she will be a multi-event athlete, with an emphasis in the jumps and hurdles. McGree competed in her first track meet at the age of 6 and comes from an athletic family. In addition to her father, Dan, being her high-school coach, all three of her siblings competing in track & field collegiately: Whitney (Carroll), Rachael (Montana State), Lindsay (Montana State).
McGree won Montana Class A-B state titles in the 100-meter hurdles (15.74), 300-meter hurdles (46.09) and long jump (17-8.75) as a junior in 2021.
Born in Scottsdale, Arizona, and a local of Erie, Colorado, Meskers will come to Montana after graduating from Erie High School in the spring. The sprinter competes in the 100, 200 and 400 meters, as well as several relays. In June, as a junior, she placed third in the state of Colorado in the 400 meters (58.35) and sixth in the 200 meters (26.03).
Away from the track, she enjoys to snowboard, mountain bike and play music. In addition to singing, she can play multiple instruments and writes and composes her own music.
Ryan is a mid-distance runner from Helena, Montana, where she has run the 800 meters, mile and 5,000 meters at Helena High School. She ran third on her school’s Western AA Divisional-winning 4×400-meter relay team and placed second at the Montana Class AA-C state track meet (4:00.85) this past spring. Ryan also competed at state in the 400 meters, 800 meters and 1,600 meters, finishing third in the 800 (2:19.03).
She has accomplished all of this, despite not competing in track until her junior year of high school. Away from competition, Ryan enjoys spending time at the lake with her two dogs, Finn and Tate. She plans to major in environmental studies at Montana.
Following graduation from Jefferson High School in Boulder, Montana, Rykal will come to Missoula where he will be a thrower, specializing in the shot put, discus and hammer. In the spring, he finished his junior season with a top shot put mark of 50-8.75 to win divisional and district meets and place fifth in the state.
He’s following in the shoes of his older brother, Braden, who also was a collegiate athlete, running sprints at MSU-Billings in 2017. In addition to throwing, Rykal enjoys fishing and hunting, and was an all-state defensive end in football. He intends to study pre-professional physical therapy.