(Photo by BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah - As the regular season winds down, the BYU men’s and women’s track and field teams will take off on Thursday for the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Indoor Track and Field Championships which will take place in Seattle on Feb. 24-25.
BYU head coach Ed Eyestone reflected on what his team has accomplished this past regular season and what they hope to accomplish at this week’s conference meet.
“I appreciate the way the team has come together and rallied behind one another in the different events,” he said. “That is what we want to continue to see at this meet. The MPSF conference meet is mainly set up to prepare athletes for the national meet. Our philosophy going in isn’t necessarily to try and win the conference but to try and get more people qualified for nationals and, for those who have qualified, prepare them the best for that meet.”
Sixteen athletes from each event will qualify for the NCAA national meet, and BYU is looking particularly at a few events in which they hope to improve and punch tickets for nationals.
One of those events is the men’s DMR. With the men running a 9:31.68 last week at the Alex Wilson Invitational, they currently sit just one spot out of qualifications and will compete again this week in hopes of logging a faster time.
“I think we have a couple of seconds in there that we can make up this week,” Eyestone said. “Connor Ross did a very good job (in the 800-meter leg), but is sick this week, so we are going to substitute in Marcus Dickson for the 800 leg. I don’t think we are losing a lot in the substitution. Hopefully with our four guys in there (Max Scheible, 400m; Marcus Dickson, 800m; Abraham Alvarado, 1200m; Clayton Young, mile;), we can run a time that will bump us from 13th into the top 10.”
Additionally, heptathlete Kevin Nielsen, who currently sits in 20th place, hopes to improve his high score by about 100 points and secure a qualifying spot in the top 16.
Athletes that have already secured qualifying spots include the women’s DMR team, Shea Collinsworth in the 800 meters, Abraham Alvarado in the 800 meters, Clayton Young in both the 3000 meters and 5000 meters, and Rory Linkletter also in the 5000 meters.
The women’s DMR team currently claims third place on the qualifying lists with a time of 10:56.93. Collinsworth also sits comfortably in second place overall in the 800 meters following a record-breaking race at the Iowa State Classic in which she ran a 2:01.42.
Alvarado is currently in 10th place it the 800 with a time of 1:47.46. Clayton Young holds fifth place in the 3000 meters (7:49.76) and 10th place in the 5000 meters (13:42.25) with Rory Linkletter in 16th place (13:49.00).
The above-mentioned athletes will compete in secondary events in order to sharpen or give strength to the skills they will utilize in the national meet. Young will complete only in the DMR, while Alvarado runs both the DMR and the mile, with Collinsworth taking part only in the open mile.
Linkletter will look to solidify his position in the 5000 meters this weekend. Alsoo looking to strengthen their marks are Zach Blackham and Andrea Stapleton, who currently hold qualifying spots but look to improve this weekend, guaranteeing them entry into nationals.
Eyestone said that an additional goal the combined men’s and women’s team has is to record 36 season-best performances.
“For those that aren’t quite yet in nationals and might not be, we are just hoping for season-best performances,” he said. “Another one of our goals as a team is to see 36 season-best times, and that is one of the numbers we will also be looking at during this meet. We even have a countdown chart to track it with; as people get season bests, they will come and record it as we try to make our goal of 36.”
The meet begins on Feb. 24 at Dempsey Indoor Track Arena at the University of Washington. Friday updates will be published on the BYU Track and Field blog, found on the home page of the BYU Track and Field page. For live updates, follow @BYUTFXC on Twitter.