2004 Season Kicks off at Oval Open

PROVO -- The men and women's track and field teams will kick off their indoor season by hosting the Oval Open, beginning Thursday on their home turf in the Smith Field House.

This season, the men's team will look to defend its first-place conference finish and its 27th-place finish at nationals from the 2003 season. Coaches say that this 2004 team is the strongest BYU has had in many years with the addition of strong freshman, return missionaries and recruits.

Almost the entire men's team will be out for the competition as it will be the first time many Cougars will compete for BYU.

"We are just excited to have them competing," men's head coach Mark Robison said. "The indoor season is so quick and because of missions most of our men have not competed in such a long time."

Similarly, this year the No. 10 ranked women's track team will battle for its 5th straight Mountain West Conference Indoor Championships. The team will look to improve in its 13th place finish at nationals with tough new recruits and a strong distance and jumps crew.

The women will be sending most of their athletes to compete along with several unattached runners Tiffany Lott-Hogan, Nikki Hughes and Jennifer Rockwell.

Because the distance team will not be competing in this meet after their second-place championship season in cross country the running events will only be those shorter than 400m.

"We are using this meet to see where we are at this far into the season," women's head coach Craig Poole said. "Also, it will show us who is ready right now to compete next weekend at the Air Force Invitational."

The meet will be hosted by BYU at two sites, the Indoor track at the Smith Field House on Thursday and Friday and at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns, Utah on Saturday.

Thursday's events will begin with the men's heptathlon competition at 2:00 p.m. including the 60m dash, long jump, shot put and high jump.

Friday's competition will feature the women's pentathlon beginning at 1:30 p.m., the second day of men's heptathlon competition and several field events starting at 4 p.m. with the weight throw, high jump and shot put.

Saturday's events at the Olympic Oval will begin at 10 a.m. with men's pole vault and will continue in the afternoon with final running events. Ending the Oval Open will be the men and women's 4X400m Relay Finals beginning at 6 p.m.

The Olympic Oval boasts a 442-meter state-of-the-art Mondo Super X track that has four lanes. One of the hockey rinks inside the track will be converted into the field area for the jumping pits.

Also competing at the Open will be several runners from the University of Utah, Utah Valley State College and Weber State University. In addition, BYU will be hosting High School events simultaneous to the collegiate events.