PROVO, Utah (January 29) - BYU spread the track and field wealth this weekend, sending split squads to four meets where 10 Cougars, five women and five men, provisionally qualified for the NCAA championship meet.
The first completed meet was Friday's Idaho State's Multi-Dual, featuring teams from Weber State, Utah State, Long Beach State, Boise State and Idaho State. Sophomore Becky Beachler and freshman Cody Fonnesbeck won individual titles for the young Cougar squads in Pocatello. Beachler, an All-American transfer from Nebraska, claimed the shot put title with a heave of 48'-4.5", outdistancing her closest competitor by nearly four feet. Fonnesbeck, who was also recruited to BYU as a wide receiver on the football team, demonstrated the speed that made him Utah's fastest high school athlete last year, claiming the 60-meter dash in 6.90 seconds.
The two-day Air Force Invitational became junior Kenneth Andam's personal showcase Saturday, as the All-American from Ghana blazed his way to titles in the 60- and 200 meters. Andam took the 60 in 6.63 and the 200 in 21.09, both of which were NCAA provisional-qualifying marks. Cougar All-Americans Marc Chenn, Jeff Hansen and Jim Roberts also shone in Colorado Springs, each producing results that provisionally qualify them for the NCAAs. Hansen shared the pole vault title with Allan Gulledge, as the duo cleared 17'-9". Roberts finished second among collegians in the shot put with a 61'-5.75" performance, while Chenn high-jumped his way to third by topping 7'-1.75".
In action on Saturday, the Cougar women placed third in the three-team Illinois Invitational. Although the finish may look disappointing on its face, BYU competed without entries in the distance medley, pole vault, and the throwing events. Coach Craig Poole was happy with the team's performance in Illinois. "We had a really good meet. They only scored the top two finishers in each event, so even though we swept a few of the events, which would have given us quite a few more points in a traditional scoring format, we finished third to two tough teams. All in all, it was a good meet," said Poole. Host Illinois won the meet with 115 points, followed by Kent State (94) and BYU (91).
All five NCAA qualifiers from the women's team earned their marks in Illinois. Three of the Cougars' cross country standouts picked up where they left off, led by All-American Elizabeth Jackson, who won the 3,000 meters in 9:33.4 seconds. Sherida Rogers and Sharolyn Shields qualified in the mile run, where they finished second (4:45.82) and third (4:48.80), respectively. Kirstin Bolm, a former German junior champion, won the 60-meter hurdles in a season-best 8.28 seconds, and high jumper Jeana McDowell cleared 5'-10" to win that event. Other event winners included Holly Gibbons in the 400 meters (55.45) and Susan Taylor in the 800 meters (2:13.58). Freshman Anna-Lee Walcott finished in the top five in two events as she prepares to take over heptathlon duties for departed All-American Alicia Brimhall.
Rounding out the schedule was the Saturday evening Wilson Motor Invitational, held on the campus of Utah State University. The same squads that competed in Pocatello made the trip to Logan, where the coaches were again impressed by the young talent. "I was very encouraged by the way we looked up there," said men's coach Willard Hirschi. "We take a lot of encouragement from the realization that many of our athletes are as good or better than we had anticipated. The way our young athletes are improving so quickly gives the assurance that we will be very good this season."
The Cougars will next compete at the Mountain States Classic in Pocatello Feb. 3-4, their third trip to Idaho State's campus in as many weeks of competition.