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The University of Montana marching band performs during the halftime break at last season's first football game against the University of Northern Iowa on Sept.
1, 2018. The Griz won the game 26-23.

FOOTBALL

Montana is coming into the season ranked dead last in the Football Conference Subdivision’s Top 25, and this year’s lineup won’t be easy for the Griz.

Four other Big Sky teams landed higher in the pecking order than Montana. In the third game of the season, the Griz will face Football Bowl Subdivision No. 12 Oregon State. Three games against ranked teams will be held in Washington-Grizzly Stadium: Idaho State on Oct. 5, Eastern Washington on Oct. 26 and Weber State on Nov. 16.

Bobby Hauck is in his second year of his second term as head coach; he took his first stint as head coach from 2003 to 2009. During that time, Montana earned seven conference crowns and postseason berths and made three national championship appearances. Last season concluded 6-5, and Montana should have plenty of room for improvement after a hefty recruiting season.

This year’s Brawl of the Wild will be in Bozeman. The Bobcats have won for the past three years.

If you’re hoping for a year of glory and the conference title, lower your expectations. Keep an eye out for redshirt senior linebacker Dante Olson, redshirt junior receiver Samuel Akem and redshirt senior cornerback Justin Calhoun.

Tickets are no-charge for students and can be reserved at griztix.com. The Griz play their first home game Saturday, Sept. 7, against North Alabama. It’s a maroon-out game and kickoff is at 7 p.m. in Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

SOCCER

The Griz are reigning conference champions coming into the 2019 season. Montana went into the 2018 Big Sky tournament ranked fifth, advancing to the program’s fourth NCAA tournament in school history.

There are no seniors on the roster, with seven returning starters. Eleven freshman and one transfer join the team of 27.

This is head coach Chris Citowicki’s second year with Montana. J. Landham is joining the coaching staff alongside third-year assistant coach Katie Benz.

Last season’s leader in goals and starting forward Alexa Coyle will return alongside All-Big Sky goalie Claire Howard and AllBig Sky midfielder Kennedy Yost. Two forward starting positions will be up for grabs by freshman players.

Another conference championship isn’t out of reach for the team. Clenching a spot in the tournament should be a much smoother path for Montana than last year. Out of the first 11 matches of the 2018 season, the Griz only won a single game.

Montana opened the season against the University of North Dakota State, concluding with 0-0 and 1-1 draws, respectively. The Griz face Washington State, which knocked Montana out of the first round of the NCAA tournament last season, Wednesday at 8 p.m. at the South Campus Stadium. Students only need to show their Griz cards for entry.

CROSS COUNTRY

There are no seniors on Griz cross country. The Griz finished the Big Sky Conference championship in 10th last season, with no runners breaking into the top 10 times. Northern Arizona has taken the conference title for the past seven years. Keep an eye out for returners Kyle Peterson and Ben Vanderbosch. With a team half full of freshmen, this will likely be a building year for the Griz.

The women’s team finished ninth in the Big Sky Conference, also with no runners breaking into the top 10 times. June Eastwood, a senior, returns to Montana cross country after a year without competing. Sophomore Erica Simison was a top performer for the women’s team last season, and should continue to stand out. Up-andcoming sophomores Rachel Torrey and Hannah Wiley will add depth to the team made up of mostly seniors.

The Montana Invitational will be held Friday, Oct. 4, in Missoula. Students only need to show their Griz cards for entry.

VOLLEYBALL

Nearly half of Montana’s volleyball team is new to the roster. The Griz kept some talented players — returning starters Sarina Moreno, Missy Huddleston and Ashley Watkins.

Watkins is sixth in school history for assists, with more than 2,500.

Last year’s conference season concluded 7-11. With 10 victories overall, the team saw the most wins per season since 2013. It was also the first time Montana qualified for the Big Sky Conference tournament since 2014.

Head coach Allison Lawrence took over the team in 2017. Since then, assists, blocks, kills and digs statistics have all significantly improved. Despite the young roster, Montana could land a spot in the Big Sky tournament again this year.

The next home game is at the Farmer’s State Bank Invitational. Montana plays CSU Bakersfield at 6 p.m. on Sept. 13. Students only need to show their Griz card for entry at the West Auxiliary Gym, the first serve is at noon.