PROVO, Utah – Wrapping up another championship track season, the BYU men’s track team experienced one of the most successful seasons in school history.
During outdoor season the Cougars finished in eight place at the NCAA Championships, had 26 athletes qualify for the NCAA West Regionals and won the Mountain West Conference title. The conference championship was the 12th for the program, making them winners of every MWC outdoor title.
BYU managed its highest indoor finish at the NCAA Championships, riding two individual national champions and one relay team title to a third place overall finish. The team also won their 9th straight indoor conference championship.
Coach Mark Robison was named the MWC outdoor coach of the year, the Mountain Region Indoor Coach of the Year and distance coach Ed Eyestone claimed the Assistant Coach of the Year Award.
Individual student-athletes garnered several accolades, including seven All-American selections and 25 MWC All-Conference honors.
Junior Miles Batty had one of the most prolific seasons in decades. The Sandy, Utah, native was named the US Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Track Athlete of the Year, won the national championship in the mile, anchored the national championship distance medley relay team and picked up the MWC titles in both the mile and 1500 meters.
The DMR team of Brian Weirich, Justin Hedin, Chris Carter and Batty won the national championship with a time of 9:29.28. BYU built an early lead in the race and held off a late comeback behind Batty’s sub-four-minute mile split.
Senior Leif Arrhenius continued the Arrhenius family legacy and won the national title in the indoor shot put. He also won the MWC championship for the shot put, weight throw and discus throw.
The team picked up its ninth consecutive MWC championship with 193 points.
“What a great team effort,” Robison said. “I couldn’t be happier for our guys. The coaches and athletes all did great.”
BYU won eight events in the competition to secure the conference title. Highlights included the distance medley relay team of Weirich, Carter, Hedin and Batty setting a new facility record and qualifying for the NCAA championships with a time of 9:29.13, which ranked third in the country at the time.
The biggest story of the indoor season may have been Batty breaking the school record in the mile at the Flotrack Husky Classic. After coach Ed Eyestone had to argue to get Batty seeded in the top heat, the junior started the race on the outside lane and behind another runner in the same lane.
Batty worked his way towards the front of the pack, pacing with professional runner Chris Solinsky for most of the race. Solinsky won the race but Batty was right behind, finishing in 3:55.79, the fastest collegiate mile in the nation.
The indoor season also featured two pole vaulters having breakout performances. Sophomore Victor Weirich had the second best mark in the country at 5.50m (18-00.50) at the New Mexico Invitational and senior Chris Little had the fourth-best, clearing 5.42m (17-09.25) at the Air Force Invitational.
The Cougars sent 26 athletes to the NCAA West Regional Preliminary Round in Oregon. Athletes competed in 13 different events in hopes to move on to Nationals.
Regionals featured multiple athletes continuing their seasons after qualifying for the NCAA Championships. Eight Cougars did enough to move on, including three pole vaulters (Little, Weirich, Tanner Emrich).
Scoring 212 points in their 12th MWC title, the Cougars defeated New Mexico with 177 and Air Force in third with 139.50. The team won seven of the 12 events.
"The fact we never lost is something that I will always remember," Robison said. "It is bittersweet to leave this great track conference with terrific coaches but I was very pleased with our kids and our performances."
Leif Arrhenius won two titles, one in the shot put and another in the discus throw. He also finished third in the hammer throw despite never competing in it during the season. The senior won the Men’s High Point Award with a combined 26 points.
Field events helped out with scoring. Junior Chris Reno won the javelin with a throw of 71.46m (234-05.00). Reno defeated the next closest competitor by nearly 20 feet. Little and Weirich went one-two in the pole vault with a 5.32m (17-05.50).
Transfer student Cade Lindahl won his first MWC title in the 400-meter with a time of 46.87, but felt ill and didn’t compete in the 4x400 relay as planned. It didn’t matter too much as his replacement and the rest of the team won another championship with a time of 3:09.39.
It wouldn’t be a complete season without Batty breaking another record. This time he shattered the school’s 1,500 meters record by over two seconds, finishing with a college-best 3:36.25 at Mt. SAC. The mark was the fastest NCAA time for the season by over three seconds and also the 5th fastest time in NCAA history.
The outdoor season featured a lot of poor weather for meets on the road and at home. When the team could get decent enough conditions though, the performances reflected it.
Senior Oliver Whaley won the hammer throw at the Aztec Invitational with a throw of 62.21m (204-01.00). He continued to improve throughout the season and threw a personal best 65.16m (213-09.00) at the BYU Twilight meet, good for 15th best in the country.
Hedin also won a MWC title in the 800-meter with a time of 1:49.60. Hedin ran an even faster 1:48.68 at the BYU Twilight meet in weeks prior. The time ranked as the 34th best in the nation.
NCAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
The team concluded their season with an eighth place finish in the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships scoring a total of 27.50 points.
“It was an outstanding meet for us,” Robison said. “That is probably one of our best performances at Nationals. It is tough to score points so I’m pretty happy with it.”
Batty placed seventh in the 1,500-meter with a time of 3:45.07, a run that earned him first-team All-America honors.
With the performance at Nationals, four Cougars were named to the All-America team including Batty (1,500-meter), Arrhenius (shot put, discus), Little (pole vault) and Weirich (pole vault). Other Cougars who competed in the championships include Hedin (800-meter), Jacob Cosby (3,000-meter steeplechase) and Emrich (pole vault).
With the BYU football team going independent, most other sports will join the West Coast Conference, but the WCC does not sponsor track and field. Because of this, the 2012 will bring a lot of change for the track and field teams.
During the indoor track season, the team will compete in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. As for the outdoor season, the team will be competing as an independent and will mostly likely compete in most of their regular meets, besides the MWC Championships.
The Cougars are returning eight indoor All-MWC winners, 14 outdoor All-MWC winners and two All-America selections.