The 2009 season proved to be landmark season for Coach Craig Poole and the BYU Women’s Track and Field team. With the help of a well-balanced group of athletes, Coach Poole led the young team to indoor and outdoor MWC Championships, as well as a third-place national indoor finish.
The Cougars, who have now won 28 of 30 outdoor conference championships and 17 of 19 indoor conference championships, are ready to dominate again this season.
2010 could be one of the best seasons in BYU track and field history. The Women’s team returns eight All-Americans and 15 conference champions. The team finished 2009 ranked 15th in the country, and they hope to improve on that ranking beginning in January.Distance
The distance team will continue its greatness during the 2010 season. The talent of this team starts in the 800-meter, an event BYU nearly swept at the MWC Outdoor Championships, taking four of the top five spots in the final. Sophomore Lacey Cramer, last season’s standout freshman, will lead this group. After winning a National Championship and two MWC Championships in this event last season, Cramer will strive to lead BYU to national prominence once again.
Junior Katie Palmer will also make a run for nationals in the 800-meter. At the 2009 Mt. SAC Relays, Palmer set what would have been a BYU record in the race (2:03.26), had she not be edged out at the finish by Cramer (2:03.01). Other 800-meter runners with a chance to produce at conference include sophomores Sarah Yingling and Sarah Edwards, both of whom placed in the top five at conference last season.
The 1500-meter is another strong race for the Cougars. Palmer leads the team in this race, after winning last season’s conference championship. Cramer, who took second at conference, is also a force in this race. Edwards and Cecily Lemmon, both 2009 regional qualifiers in this event, can also be counted on for points at the conference meet.
Angela Wagner, last season’s conference champion in the mile and 3000-meter, will provide senior leadership throughout the season. Wagner will be looked at to provide national recognition for BYU in both her championship events, and possibly in the 3000-meter steeplechase. Palmer and Cramer provide depth in the mile, with Anna Sperry and Lemmon providing the depth in the 3000-meter. All four runners qualified in those events last season.
Rounding up the distance races are the 5000-meter and 10000-meter, both of which are led by Lemmon. She regionally qualified in both races last season, and placed second in the 10000-meter at the Outdoor National Championships. Pushing her in the 5000-meter is fellow 2009 regional qualifier, sophomore Katy Andrews.Jumps
A pair of All-Americans, sophomore Ada Robinson and senior Amy Otis, lead a loaded BYU jump team this season. Robinson, a high jumper, placed fifth at the Outdoor National Championships, and will look to build upon that feat this season. Otis, a long jumper, is looking to improve on her seventh place Outdoor National Championship finish of a year ago.
Fellow sophomore Diana Blauer will push to join Robinson in the National landscape. She already has one conference championship in her young career, at the MWC Indoor Championships, and will look to add to that total.
Mindy Neely-McClurkin, a senior former All-American, will join Otis as a top long jumper. Neely-McClurkin competed in the long jump at the 2008 Olympic trials, and will look to regain that form.
The triple jump will be lead by senior Madara Dzalbe, a former javelin thrower that qualified for the West Regional last season. Junior Mindy Robins, another Cougar jumper that can score at conference, will add depth to the team.Pole Vault
The pole vault team is the deepest, most talented it has been in years. Four athletes that qualified for the West Regional all return, and three are sophomores. Senior Kari Clark will provide the experience and leadership that this group needs, and she also possesses the ability to place at Nationals after setting the BYU pole vault record last season.
The three sophomores, Kelli Ehardt, Christine Botteron, and Shanie Bushman, are all quality vaulters. Ehardt brings the best chance of the three to compete at a national level, but all three are capable of producing at conference.Sprints and Hurdles
The sophomore Stewart sisters, Natalie and Nachelle, will help lead a diverse group of sprinters and hurdlers this season. Natalie brings more pure speed to the track, running the second fastest times on the team last year in the 60-meter dash and the 200-meter dash. Natalie also set a BYU record in the 400-meter, running it in 53.60 seconds. Nachelle was second to her sister on the team in the 400-meter and fourth in the 200-meter. She also ran the teams’ third fastest 800-meter time.
Leading the way for the two speedy sophomores will be the two senior leaders, Neely-McClurkin and Otis. Neely-McClurkin is one of the fastest BYU sprinters in history, with third place marks on the record board in both the 60-meter and 200-meter. After fourth place finishes in those events at last season’s conference meets, she will look to get a spot on the medal stand this season.
Porsche Giddings, a transfer from Northeastern University, brings both experience and excellence into the women’s sprint team. Giddings holds the record in both the 60-meter dash (7.49) and 100-meter dash (11.57) at Northeastern. Both times would have been BYU team-bests last season.
Otis, the All-American long jumper, is also a prolific hurdler. She qualified for nationals in the 60-meter hurdles last season, and followed that with a 100-meter hurdle regional qualifying time during outdoor. Adding to the success of BYU hurdlers is sophomore Fatima Makakala, who ran the tenth fastest 60-meter hurdle time in BYU history last season at 8.67 seconds.
Junior Diane Stewart, a sister to the sophomore Stewarts, will also adds to the hurdle arsenal. She will be a threat to place at conference in the 400-meter hurdles, and also could put herself into the national picture with slight improvement.Throws
Throws is an area of the team that shows a lot of potential. Sophomore Sharrisa Thayer, last season’s top shot putter, will strive to improve on that mark. Fellow sophomore Cassandra Woodall, who will compete in the weight throw, discus and shot put, could also have an impact.
Junior Tipaleli Fotu will lead the hammer throwers in her first season back from a mission. Sophomore Tianna Illi, a discus and shot put competitor, will look to contribute to another team conference title. Senior Sarah Lancaster will lead the javelin throwers, and could have an impact not only on the conference level but the national level as well. She regionally qualified in the event last season, and will only improve with time.
Also contributing in the javelin will be freshman Amber Freeman and Ally Wardell. Freeman was a four-time Utah All-State performer and won state in the javelin her senior season. Wardell won state her senior season in Montana with a Class AA record javelin throw. Multi-event freshman Coriann Clark will also compete in the javelin.Combined Events
Otis and Robins will be threats on the national level. Otis looks to follow up her National Championship performance. Robins, now a junior, will look to improve on last season’s conference-placing performance. Freshman Coriann Clark, a four-time All-Montana track and field athlete, will also contribute in the multi-events.Newcomers
The 2009-10 BYU women’s track and field recruiting class looks to continue the first-year impact the team experienced during its run to national prominence in 2008-09.
While freshman make up the majority of the first-year Cougars, it is a transfer sprinter that looks to make the biggest impact. Porsche Giddings, a transfer from Northeastern University, brings both experience and excellence into the women’s sprint team. Giddings holds the record in both the 60-meter dash (7.49) and 100-meter dash (11.57) at Northeastern. Both times would have been BYU team-bests last season.
Rachel Fisher, a pole vault specialist coming from Allen, Texas, brings an AAU National Jr. Olympic Championship reputation with her to Provo. The freshman should make an instant impact on an already strong pole vault squad.