The BYU men's track squad will be gearing up for the 2005 season and will be led by a number of seniors including All-Americans Bryan Lindsay and Nathan Robison.
With a good mix of new and returning athletes, the BYU men's track team is set to begin the 2005 track season. After claiming the Mountain West Conference indoor and outdoor titles last year, the Cougars are back with a tough schedule, looking for their eighth consecutive conference championship. The team hopes to improve their 10th and 26th-place finish in the NCAA indoor and outdoor championships respectively.
"I'm extremely optimistic about this year," BYU head coach Mark Robison said. "I think this is going to be the best team we've had in the last 15 or 20 years. We have five All-Americans returning, quite a few redshirts and some really good transfer athletes. Our goal is to be in the top 10 at Nationals for the indoor and outdoor season."
BYU also claimed the No. 1 spot in the National Team Power Rankings last year by the United States Track Coaches Association. With this honor, the Cougars expect to have good talent in every event this season as well.
In this event, senior Devin Howe will return to compete in the decathlon along with sophomore Christ Weirich and Kevin Keys, who redshirted last season. Howe will offer his expertise in the 400-meter hurdles and high jump throughout the season as well while Weirich and Keys will also help contribute in this multi-event competition.
This year's distance squad will be talented and experienced including three seniors with All-American status. After taking second in the mile and the 1,500 meters at the 2004 indoor and outdoor nationals, three-time All-American senior Nathan Robison will help lead the team in his final season at BYU.
Along with Robison will be senior All-American Bryan Lindsay, who recently posted a top finish at the 2004 cross country nationals. In the steeplechase, All-American Matt Adams will look for a repeat finish after taking eighth at outdoor nationals and claiming the MWC steeplechase title. Junior Josh McAdams should also be a top contender in the steeplechase this year.
After earning All-American honors after his 22nd place at the 2004 national cross country meet, junior Josh Rohatinsky will return as a team captain and key contributor in the longer distance races.
Many athletes will look for top performances in the 800 meters including senior Lars Kjerengtroen, who qualified for his first trip to nationals after an extremely close fifth-place finish at regionals. Senior Scott Adams and junior Dustin Trail will also add depth in middle distance.
The Cougar hurdle team will consist of a trio of experienced upperclassmen including senior Kansas Whitear, who earned his first trip to nationals last year and will be one of the team captains. Juniors Ben Gardner and Jacob Garlick will also look to make an impact this year in both the 110-meter hurdles and the 400-meter hurdles.
Seniors David Chesser and Cody Fonnesbeck will lead the sprint squad along with junior Nate Soelberg. After helping the mile relay win the MWC title, Chesser will be a key asset for BYU in both the 200 meters and 400 meters. Soelberg will also be returning after taking second in the 100 meters and helping the sprint relay team win the title at the MWC Outdoor Championships. Coming off a redshirt season because of a knee injury, Fonnesbeck will be back in action for the sprint squad.
For the second consecutive year, the Arrhenius brothers will be full-force in the shot put and discus. Although the Cougars lost senior Dan Arrhenius last year, freshman Leif Arrhenius will throw alongside his brother, sophomore Nic Arrhenius, who won three MWC titles and earned two All-American citations last year as a freshman. In true Arrhenius fashion, Leif was ranked to the No. 2 and No. 3 spot in the nation among high school athletes in the shot put and discus respectively in 2004 and should make an immediate impact as a freshman.
Seniors Matt Hickman and John Forsythe will give the throwing squad a boost as well. Hickman will concentrate on the javelin after claiming the MWC outdoor title in this event last year while sophomore Adam Pyne will also add depth after redshirting last year.
After earning his first trip to indoor nationals last year, Rodrigo Mendes will be a top triple jumper for the Cougars after earning All-American honors with a sixth-place finish. In the long jump, Mendes will team up with junior Matt Anderson, who regionally qualified in this event last year. Recently returned missionary David Pendergrass, a sophomore, may be a key contributor in the jumps after winning the MWC outdoor title in the high jump as a freshman.
A duo of veterans will use their experience and leadership in the pole vault including two-time All-American senior Trent Powell and junior Robison Pratt, who holds the school record with his jump of 18 feet, three inches from the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. Both should contribute after tying for ninth place at the 2004 indoor nationals and earning berths to outdoor nationals in this event after both clearing 17 feet, 10 inches late in the season.
Overall, the Cougars will look to add another two MWC team titles along with top-10 finishes at both national meets. With such a strong mix of newcomers and veterans, the BYU men's track team may reach far beyond their expectations in the 2005 season.