Griz track and field undergoes coaching changes (Melinda Owen)

The Montana track and field program will have a new look in 2013-14 with some recent coaching hires made by sixth-year coach Brian Schweyen.

Schweyen, who is beginning his 19th year overall as a track and field coach for the Grizzlies, has added James Stanton, Collin Fehr and Melinda Owen to his staff. They will join returning assistant coaches Adam Bork and Vicky Pounds to give the program the full complement of allowable coaches.

Bork, who coaches Montana’s multi-event athletes and the jumps, is entering his seventh year as a full-time assistant and his 12th year overall. Pounds works with the Grizzlies’ track athletes, from sprints to distance. She will be in her second year.

“The most important thing we’re trying to do is get the athlete-to-coach ratio down,” said Schweyen, whose program has more than 80 athletes. “There is a lot of knowledge on this staff and a lot of success, and I think that’s going to be beneficial to the team and to the athletes.”

Stanton worked with Montana’s throwers the last two years and will do so again in 2013-14 in a more permanent role. Stanton was a three-time All-Big Sky Conference thrower for the Grizzlies and advanced to NCAA regionals in 2008 in the shot put.

Stanton, of Billings, coached Brandon Forson and Samantha Hodgson, both in the discus, to the NCAA West Regional in May, where Forson broke Dick Doyle’s school record from 1951 with a throw of 177-9.

“Jimmy is motivated, and his knowledge of the throws is very good,” Schweyen said. “His ability to work with athletes is outstanding. He connects with them and is able to get out of them what is necessary, and I think that is the most important part of being a coach.”

Fehr, of Corvallis, had a varied background as a collegiate athlete. He started out as a men’s basketball player at Montana Tech for two seasons (2006-08) before transferring to Montana. He competed for one season on the Griz tennis team (2008-09), then spent two years as a distance runner (2009-11).

He twice finished in Montana’s top three at Big Sky Conference cross country championships and placed 17th overall at the 2009 league meet. Fehr competed at Big Sky indoor championships in the mile, 3,000 meters and distance medley relay during his career and the steeplechase at the outdoor championships.

Fehr continued his training while a graduate student at Montana. He won the 2012 Missoula Marathon in a time of 2:32:38.

“Collin hasn’t done a lot of coaching, but I think he’s going to be successful because of his knowledge and his enthusiasm for both our program and distance running,” Schweyen said.

“One of the biggest reasons I wanted him on our staff is because I think he can be a good recruiter. I think he’ll be able to start recruiting to our men’s distance program, and that hasn’t happened in the past.”

Pounds and Fehr will team up to coach Montana’s cross country team. They replace Courtney Babcock, who coached the cross country team and UM’s distance runners the past five years but is not returning.

Owen will work with Montana’s pole vaulters and serve as the program’s recruiting coordinator.

“Melinda is going to bring a good recruiting tool to our staff. Not only is she very organized, she is still competing and very recognizable in the pole vault world,” Schweyen said.

“And I think she has the ability to be a great coach. She is very excitable and gets kids to respond to her. She has that one thing you really want in a coach, someone who can motivate and understands how to work with certain individuals.”

Owen, of Polson, competed at Idaho and still holds the Vandal school records in the pole vault both indoor (13-9.25) and outdoor (14-5.25). Owen was named All-America in 2007 after finishing fifth at the NCAA indoor championships at Fayetteville, Ark.

She has continued competing after college and finished in the top six at five straight USA Track and Field indoor and outdoor championships, with third-place finishes at the 2009 and 2011 indoor national championships and a fifth-place finish at the 2010 outdoor national championships.

Owen, who has a goal of competing at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, made the finals in the pole vault at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic trials.

Montana will also utilize Paul Reneau, in the sprints, and Michael Fisher, in the distance events, as volunteer assistant coaches in 2013-14.


Melinda Owen
Melinda Owen

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