May 15, 2014 10:38 PM by KPAX/KAJ Media Center
FLAGSTAFF, AZ - Montana senior Lindsey Hall won the heptathlon Thursday at the Big Sky Conference outdoor track and field championships at Flagstaff, Ariz.
Hall held off Montana State's Carley McCutchen by 10 points to win her second career heptathlon title, her fifth career multi-events championship and her seventh overall Big Sky title.
Her five multi-events titles -- three in the pentathlon, two in the heptathlon -- match the number won by Idaho State's Cassie Merkley for most in Big Sky history.
With Southern Utah's Shaye Springall not competing, Hall's title felt almost preordained, but the day's events generated a lot more drama than anyone was anticipating, thanks to a two-day career performance by McCutchen.
"It was way tighter than I think anyone was expecting, because Carley had a great meet," said UM coach Brian Schweyen.
"I think Lindsey started feeling some pressure, but in the end she did what she needed to do to come through and get the win. It was well-deserved."
McCutchen was the leader after day one, 29 points ahead of Hall, who was in third place.
Hall took the overall lead with a mark of 19-3.5 in Thursday's opening event, the long jump. That gave her a 34-point lead over McCutchen, who jumped 18-7.25.
Hall could have clinched the victory in the javelin, but she went just 137-9. It was the best throw of the day by more than 10 feet but more than 20 feet short of her season best.
"Lindsey was trying to put some distance between her and Carley, and she just tried way too hard," Schweyen said. "In that situation you have to trust your focus and adrenaline to get the job done."
McCutchen threw 129-2, putting Hall's lead at 85 points going into the 800 meters. Or in heptathlon terms, the equivalent of 6.35 seconds.
"We talked to Lindsey and said there were no two ways about it," Schweyen said. "She was going to have to stay with (Carley). Her goal shouldn't be to just stay within six seconds. The goal had to be to beat her."
The two were together through the first of two laps before McCutchen started to pull away. She was picking up one second every 50 meters, but Hall found another gear in the final 100 to finish 5.7 seconds back.
McCutchen ran a 2:22.34 to finish second overall in the 800. Hall posted a 2:28.08 to finish fourth.
Hall totaled a final score of 5,401 points, McCutchen 5,391, a 240-point career best. No one else in the field scored more than 5,000 points.
The big question now is, what will the added stress of having to run an all-out 800 meters do to Hall as she goes into Friday's and Saturday's events? She ranks first in the Big Sky in the 100-meter hurdles, long jump and javelin and second in the high jump. She is also entered in the triple jump.
"It would have been better if she could have run a 2:50 and still won, but I think the 800 is a short enough race that she should be fine," Schweyen said. "With some ice baths and her mindset, I expect her to have two more good days Friday and Saturday."
Schweyen was hoping to have one or two more point scorers come out of the heptathlon, but freshmen Lakyn Connors and Nicole Stroot and junior Shayle Dezellem were all hindered by one bad event.
Stroot fell in the hurdles and Dezellem no-heighted in the high jump on Wednesday. On Thursday Connors failed to record a mark in the javelin.
Connors finished 14th with 3,923 points, Stroot, who had five season bests over the course of two days, was 15th with 3,371, and Dezellem was 16th with 3,135. Stroot and Dezellem both pulled out of the 800 meters after the first 200 and did not record a time.
The championships get going full force Friday with the finals of the steeplechase and 10,000 meters and the preliminaries of six running events. Eight field events will also be contested Friday.