(Editor's note: Montana State athletics press release)
BOZEMAN—Montana State's track and field program announced the signing of four student-athletes that have submitted National Letters of Intent in the past month and are expected to join the Bobcats ahead of the 2022-23 academic year.
Incoming freshmen Noah Barbery, Giulia Gandolfi and Malikye Simpson will be a part of the Montana State sprints group, while Ava Weems will join the Bobcats' distance squad having spent the last four years at Mississippi State.
Barbery will make his way to Bozeman from Spokane, Wash., after graduating from Lewis and Clark high school. Barbery has already earned eight first-place finishes in nine sprint appearances during his school's outdoor season. A team captain as a senior for the Tigers, Barbery has broken his school record in the 100-meter dash with his llfetime best 10.74 seconds. This outdoor season he's also set a personal-best time of 21.58 in the 200.
This March, Barbery qualified and competed in the AAU National Indoor Championships. He took first place at the national meet in the 60 dash and second overall in the 200. He recorded the fastest time of his prep career of 6.86 in the 60 during the indoor season which would currently rank among MSU's top three marks ever.
Barbery's junior year was cut short due to injury while his sophomore season was marred due to Covid. His freshman year was highlighted by Greater Spokane League Freshman Championships in the 100 and 200 individually. He also earned his program's Freshman Sensation Award that year.
"Noah is a great example of an athlete who has used his senior season to really improve his stock," Montana State sprints coach Jay Turner said. "He's parlayed a breakout indoor season into an AAU national championship in the 60, as well as a runner-up finish in the 200. Noah is an excellent student and an even better young man. He is coachable and very eager to get to work here in Bozeman."
Gandolfi is an experienced runner at national meets for her club team Liceo Torricelli-Ballardini in Italy. Gandolfi has participated in a variety of events in track and field, but at Montana State is anticipated to compete primarily in the 400 and 400 hurdles. Gandolfi has recorded personal bests of 56.65 in the 400 and 1:01.21 in the 400 hurdles. Her top time in the 400 ranks just outside MSU's all-time top 10, while her best time in the 400 hurdles would currently be an all-time top 10 mark for the Bobcats.
"Giulia will come in and be an immediate contributor at the conference level in the 400 meter hurdles in an event we feel there's an opportunity to score major points in," Turner said. "Giulia will also be a candidate for the relays as well."
Simpson is a multiple sport athlete at Billings Senior high school. The future Bobcat sprinter has been a standout on the track and on the football field for the Broncs. In track and field, Simpson has contributor to the varsity program since his freshman year. That season, Simpson made state championship appearances at the Class AA meet and made the finals in both the 100 and 200. As a junior in 2021, Simpson completed the fastest time at all levels in Montana in the 100 (10.68) and second fastest in the 200 (22.07), with both serving as his lifetime bests. His time in the 100 was a school record while he was the recipient of his program's Best Junior award.
This spring, Simpson currently holds the second fastest time in the 100 in the state following his first race of the season. The Billings native has lettered on multiple occasions in both track and football. Simpson was a starter at cornerback two seasons and wide receiver as a senior for the Broncs. Following a junior year where he earned honorable mention all-state and all-conference recognition, Simpson as a senior was a second team all-state as well as an all-conference selection. Each year he also was an all-state academic selection.
"Malikye is the type of homegrown talent we're constantly searching for here at MSU," Turner said. "He can have an immediate impact for us and also will be a great student. We are excited to explore his potential now that he will focus on track full-time at the collegiate level."
Weems will join Montana State following a four-year stretch in Starkville, Miss. Weems has participated in distance events and cross country for the Bulldogs. She's been a member of Mississippi State squads that ran at the SEC Cross Country Championships, NCAA South Region Cross Country Championships, as well as most recently at the 2022 SEC Indoor Championships. Weems joined the Mississippi State program following four years as a letterwinner at Hoover high school in Alabama. She set her school's record in the 3,200 as a freshman and was a multiple time state champion in the 4x800 relay. Weems was part of state championship teams all four years of her prep tenure.
"Ava brings four years of collegiate distance running experience," said Lyle Weese, Montana State's program director and distance coach. "This experience has been in a strong conference which should prepare her well to compete in our formidable Big Sky Conference. Ava is a great student and will be pursuing a graduate degree. We are very excited to add an experienced senior with leadership skills to our improving and still young women's distance squad."
Montana State continues its track and field season on April 29 when the Bobcats travel to Pocatello, Idaho, to compete in the Bengal Invitational.
Additions to 2022-23 Roster (^ Previously Announced Prior to Dec. 31, 2021)
Noah Barbery | Sprints | Spokane, Wash. | Lewis & Clark HS
^Alyssa Boshart | Sprints | Big Timber, Mont. | Sweet Grass County HS
^Sam Ells | Distance | Kalispell, Mont. | Glacier HS
Giulia Gandolfi | Sprints/Hurdles | Faenza, Italy | Liceo Torricelli-Ballardini
^Peyton Garrison | Sprints | New Castle, Colo. | Coal Ridge HS
^Caroline Hawkes | Sprints | San Clemente, Calif. | San Clemente HS
^Millie Hubbell | Sprints/Hurdles | Littleton, Colo. | Chatfield HS
^Dylan Lee | Jumps | Albuquerque, N.M. | La Cueva HS
^Lindsey Paulson | Distance | Belt, Mont. | Belt HS
Malikye Simpson | Sprints | Billings, Mont. | Billings Senior HS
^Jakob Webinger | Sprints | Laurel, Mont. | Laurel HS
Ava Weems | Distance | Hoover, Ala. | Hoover HS | Mississippi State
^Jaeden Wolff | Sprints | Billings, Mont. | Billings West HS