McLeod ready to write final chapter at Big Sky Outdoor championships
Ten seconds can be an eternity in track and field, and 10 seconds away from a conference championship, nobody gave Erika McLeod a chance.
The sophomore from the University of Montana had started the 2016 Big Sky Indoor Championships poorly. She posted a ninth-place finish in the 60-meter hurdles in the first event of the pentathlon. She recovered to place fourth in both the high jump and the shot put before winning the long jump to get herself back in the competition.
But, as her coaches scrambled to calculate the numbers, it became quickly apparent that she would need an incredible performance in the last event, the 800 meters, to catch Montana State senior Danielle (Muri) Rider.
“She needed to beat a girl by 10 seconds. Ten seconds in an 800, it doesn’t happen,,” Montana head track and field coach Brian Schweyen, a former record-setting multi-event standout during his career at Montana State, said. “And that other competitor had a 2:24 or 2:23 PR, so Erika’s thinking, well, I’ve got to go at least a 2:13 or 2:14, and if that girl decides to run a 2:21 today, then what? And our conversation was, you’ve got to go out, and you’ve got to stay in tune, and you’ve got to shut everything out and you’ve got to put your body through hell for two minutes.”
For two minutes, McLeod did, sprinting out to an early lead. As the Montana group anticipated, Rider tightened up on her home track, dropping a few seconds off her PR.
“I knew she had it in her. I didn’t know how long she would stay in tune during that 800 to accomplish that,” Schweyen said. “But it’s a 200-meter track that she ran it on, and as she came around on that second lap, the look in her eyes, I said, she’s going to do it.”