Jul 12, 2011 5:12 PM by Scott Breen - Q2 Sports
BILLINGS - Introduced 19 years ago, the Montana Mile has become a mainstay at the Big Sky State Games Opening Ceremonies; the women's race was added in 2000. Designed to bring together Montana's top milers, the Montana Mile is one of Montana's most prestigious distance races. Many of Montana's best male and female milers from high school, college, and beyond will come together once again at Opening Ceremonies on Friday, July 15 at Wendy's Field at Daylis Stadium. The race is expected to start around 8:15 p.m.
The men will be chasing a record set in 2010 by Laurel graduate and MSU-Bozeman runner Patrick Casey, who ran a time of 4:07.9. On the women's side, Lois Ricardi-Keller also set a new record last year with a time of 4:58.8. Ricardi-Keller is a graduate of Manhattan Christian and Idaho State University.
Men's Mile Field
Patrick Casey is a 2008 graduate of Laurel High School and will be a junior at Montana State University this fall. He is the three-time defending Montana Mile Champion after taking Gold last year with a record time of 4:07.9. Last year he earned All-American honors finishing 3rd and the 2010 NCAA Indoor National Championship. He earned his second All-American title this spring placing 8th in the 1500 at the 2011 NCAA Outdoor National Championship. He ran the first sub-4 minute mile in Montana earlier this year. He has covered the mile distance in 3:59.76. Casey holds school records in the 800m and the mile. Casey is a seven-time high school state champion in cross country and track combined and was the 2007 National USATF Junior Olympic Champion. He was also Montana's 2007 Gatorade Cross Country Runner of the Year after an undefeated cross country season.
2007 Montana Mile Gold Medalist, and 2008-2010 Silver Medalist John Ricardi of Gardiner wrapped up his college running a year ago, and currently runs for Team Indiana Elite. A 2005 graduate of Gardiner High School, Ricardi was an eight-time State Champion with two Cross Country Championships, three 1600m Championships, and three 3200m Championships. Ricardi is a six-time Big Sky All Conference performer, three-time NCAA Regional Qualifier and a 2010 NCAA Outdoor National Championship Qualifier. He competed in the USATF National Championship in the 3k Steeplechase. Ricardi has a personal best of 3:45.76 in the 1500m.
Michael Asay is a entering his sophomore year at the University of New Mexico and is a graduate of Manhattan High School. Asay is a six-time Class B State Champion; in 2009 and 2010 in the 1600m and 3200m, in 2009 in Cross Country and in 2010 he finished 1st in the 800m. Asay was named the 2009 Montana Gatorade Cross Country Athlete of the Year. His personal best time in the 1600m is 4:21.01
MSU-Billings Sophomore and Colstrip High graduate Chase Robinson will be competing in his second Montana Mile. He was a four-time All-State track athlete in high school. He qualified for the GNAC Indoor and Outdoor Conference Championship in the 800m. He has a personal best of 4:05 in the 1500m.
Manhattan High School graduate and Montana State University - Billings senior Tyson Vanderby ran on two Class B State Championship teams and was the 2008 800m State Champion. He has a personal best of 4:26 in the 1600m. He has qualified for 3 GNAC Championship meets for track.
A junior at Montana State University - Billings, Taylor Canfield has twice qualified for the GNAC outdoor championships in the 3k Steeplechase. He was part of two State Champion teams for Manhattan High School. He has a 1500m personal best of 4:15.
Thomas Jodoin of Helena was an NAIA National Championship Qualifier for the United States International University of San Diego. He recently took 2nd place at the Governor's Cup 5k, after winning both the 5k and 10k in 2010. Jodoin has a personal best time of 4:12 in the mile. He is an attorney for the City of Helena.
Women's Mile Field
Lois Ricardi-Keller, formerlyof Gardiner and now Seattle, WA, is the four-time defending Montana Mile Champion from 2007-2010. Last year she set a new Montana Mile record of 4:58.8. The Manhattan Christian and Idaho State University graduate earned All-State honors four times in cross country, finishing first three-times, and seven times in track. She was also the valedictorian for MCHS. Ricardi - Keller was a four- time Academic All American in cross country and two-time Academic All American in track for Idaho State University. She currently holds the record for the indoor 3000m and was a member of ISU record holding distance medley relay team. Ricardi-Keller was a NCAA Division 1 Regional Steeplechase Qualifier and qualified for and competed in the USATF National Championships from 2009-2011. Keller recently participated in the USATF Club Nationals Track Meet, placing first in the 3k Steeplechase. She has a personal best of 4:52 in the mile.
Alexa Aragon was a five-time Class AA State Champion in the 1600m (three times) and 800m (twice) while running for Billings Senior High School. She earned State runner-up honors three-times at 3200m, once in the 1600m and twice in cross country. She was named the 2009 Montana Gatorade Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year. Aragon is also a four- time Academic All State Athlete. She will be entering her sophomore year at the University of Notre Dame, where she qualified for Big East Championships twice, and also the Eastern NCAA Regionals. She has a personal best of 4:25 in the 1500m.
Montana State senior Heather Haug is a two-time Big Sky Conference Champion, once in the Indoor mile, and once in the Outdoor 1500m. She also placed 3rd in the Big Sky Outdoor 3k Steeplechase. She holds the 1500m and Steeplechase school record for Montana State. She was a four-time State Champion for Park High School. She has a mile personal best of 4:45.
Danielle Aragon will be a senior at Billings Senior High School this fall. She is a five-time State Champion in track, including her wins in the 3200m, 1600m, 800m, and 4x400m this spring at the State Championship meet. Aragon is also a three-time All-State Cross Country finisher. She captured 1st place in the mile and 800m at the prestigious Golden West Invitational in Folsom, CA this spring. She was selected as the Montana Gatorade Track and Field Athlete of the Year for 2011. Aragon has a personal best time of 4:57 in the 1600m.
Bridgett Hoenke graduated from Billings Senior High School in 2007and will be a senior at the University of Montana. In 2006 and 2007 she was the Class AA State Champion in both the 800m and 1600m. Hoenke was a member of 2008 Big Sky Conference Championship Distance Medley Relay team. She placed 7th in the1500m at the 2009 and 2010 Big Sky Conference meet.She is a member of the 2010 Big Sky Conference Cross Country Championship team. Hoenke's personal best in the 1500m is 4:35.
Chloe Palakovich is a graduate of Whitehall High Schoolandcurrently runs for Idaho State University. In high school she earned All-State honors three times in cross country and 12-times in track. Palakovich was a finalist in the 2009 Simplot Games. At Idaho State she finished 6th in both the Big Sky Conference Indoor and Outdoor Championships. Her personal best in the 1500m is 4:42.
Nicole Rietz, a recent graduate of Billings West High School, will be entering her freshman year at the University of Utah. She is a four-time All-State Cross Country Runner and 14-time All-State Track Runner. Rietz is also a three-time Academic All-State Award recipient. She holds the Billings West school record in the 800m. Her personal best in the 1600m is 5:03.
A recent graduate of Montana State University - Billings, Katie Thiel, is a three-time Academic All-Conference. She is a five-time All-State runner from Powell High School in Wyoming. She currently holds the 800m and 1600m school record at Powell. She has a personal best time of 4:50 in the 1500m.
Ashley Crippen will be entering the University of Great Falls this fall to play Basketball. She is a four-time All-State runner for Colstrip High School. She has a personal best of 5:25 in the 1600m.
Chiara Warner will be a junior at Broadwater High School this fall. She is the two-time defending Class B Cross Country Champion. She has run a personal best of 5:21 in the 1600m.