The Last Best Good Story
Not Your Father's Generation
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C'est Missoula Vie
AROUND THE OVAL
About the Montanan
A Winning Season
by Matt Thompson
Montana went 12-16 last year and, plagued by injuries, failed to reach the NCAA Tournament for only the second time in twelve years. This year the Montana women started the season off hot, winning four of their first five, then struggled a bit through the nonconference schedule. But the Lady Griz dominated the Big Sky, finishing the year 14-3 in conference play, at one point winning eight in a row.
Leading the charge was Weyler, who averaged 12.4 points and 7.6 rebounds a contest. Senior Krista Redpath and junior Lauren Cooper, who sat on the sidelines last year due to injuries, made big comebacks. Cooper led the team in scoring with 13.8 points a game and earned All-Big Sky first-team honors. Redpath averaged almost ten points a game and was a honorable-mention selection. Sophomore Simmarron Schildt received Best Sixth Man honors for her effort off the bench.
The Lady Griz traveled to Athens, Georgia, in March to take on the University of Georgia Lady Bulldogs in the NCAA tournament. Ranked fourth in the nation, the Lady Bulldogs beat the Montana women 74-46, ending Montana's season with a 22-8 record.
This year's senior group, which consisted of Megan Harrington, Redpath, Weyler, and Meggan Thompson, compiled a 105-38 record over the last five years and were an astounding 56-5 in their home court, Dahlberg Arena.Hoop Magic
Their miracle run set up a showdown against Eastern Washington University for the Big Sky title. Led by senior Matt Williams, who scored 22 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, the Grizzlies put on a 17-0 run in the second half and held on to beat the Eagles 77-75.
Montana tied with EWU for the title and hosted the tournament. Ranked the No. 1 seed, UM met Cal State-Northridge in the semi-final round. After a close first half, the Matadors surged ahead in the second and ended Montana's season with a 76-65 win. Williams earned first-team All-Big Sky honors while senior Mike Warhank received an honorable-mention selection. The Grizzlies ended their season with a 17-11 record.Big Strides
Although the men's indoor track team placed seventh and the women's team placed eighth in the Big Sky this winter, both teams made some big strides in preparing for the spring outdoor season. UM's biggest winner was distance runner Heather Anderson, who won the Big Sky title in the 5000 meter and placed 15th in the same event at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. "I hung with the front of the pack for a while but didn't plan on taking the lead as early as I did," says the junior from Maple Grove, Minnesota, about her 5000 win. "I basically ran scared for 1200 meters."
Another Grizzly who made an impact was Jaime Slyder in the shot put. She smashed the UM indoor record with a 46-9 throw and placed second at the Big Sky Indoor Championships. Unfortunately for Slyder, NAU's Linda Nestorsson obliterated the Big Sky shot put record with a throw of 53-8, which contributed to the Lumberjack's winning the women's Big Sky Indoor Championship. On the men's side, senior David Blair broke the school record in the 200 meter with a time of 47.0, finishing second at the championships.
Beating the Odds
Three UM athletes excel on and off the court.
by Matt Thompson
How did Dallas Neil, Krista Redpath and Mike Warhank do it? In an age when major college athletics are minor leagues for professional sports, and studiesthe "real" reason athletes are supposed to attend schoolare commonly pushed aside, simply graduating is a feat for many. It's difficult to succeed in the classroom and on the field, but somehow these three, all with similar backgrounds and goals, have done it.
"School didn't help football, but football helped school," says Neil, who was a two-time All-Big Sky punter and three-time All-Big Sky academic pick. "In my case, because football made me more disciplined, it kept me focused on what was really important and that consequently helped me in school." Neil graduated from UM with a 3.86 grade point average in business information systems and is pursuing a master's in business administration. He earned $10,000 for UM last fall when he was named the Burger King Scholar-Athlete of the Week and garnered another $1,000 for the school by being tapped the D.A. Davidson scholar-athlete. "My parents wouldn't let me get away with not doing my homework," Neil says, laughing.
On the other hand, Redpath says she always has enjoyed school, but knows what it is like to slack off on studies every once in a while. "I haven't been the perfect student," says Redpath, a first-team All-Big Sky selection averaging 11.4 points a game in 1997-98 for the Lady Griz before she tore a ligament last fall. "But I've enjoyed school. I stayed right on track, took summer school one summer and finished in four years." Redpath graduated last May with a degree in political science and a 3.2 GPA, then entered the political science graduate program, with an emphasis on public administration.
Warhank, the third member of these musketeers, graduated in business marketing last spring with a 3.3 GPA. Well-known for his sharp-shooting and strong leadership skills on the Griz hardwood, he ranked ninth in the nation as a sophomore in three-point accuracy (49.5 percent) and was Montana's team captain and the team's most inspirational player last season. Working on a master's in business administration, Warhank says his academic career was always a priority, but finishing undergraduate school in four years was a bonus.
Although their lives have been filled with long, sweaty practices and late night, coffee-filled study sessions, the Great Falls trio have remained close. Their relationship resembles the characters on the sitcom, "Friends." Redpath and Warhank attended kindergarten together. Neil and Redpath went to their high school senior prom together. Warhank and Neil have roomed together for the past two years.
"We were all pretty good friends and still are," Redpath says. "We all had similar backgrounds and we were all into sports. They're just great guys."
But what lies ahead for these three when they have to part ways? Neil wants to "take an idea and run with it" by becoming an entrepreneur. Right now he is looking into the prospects with interactive sports media. Redpath hopes to travel to Indianapolis this summer and work as an intern for the NCAA, learning about athletic administration. Warhank would like to get into athletic administration as well and move to the West Coast.
These three UM grads likely will be successful wherever they go. After all, this trio has a history of beating the odds.
UM senior Matt Thompson, a reporter for the Montana Kaimin and a former member of the Griz football team, has a 3.3 GPA.
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