Robison Pratt automatically qualified for nationals in the pole vault on Saturday. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- Track and field athletes swarmed the Smith Fieldhouse Friday and Saturday as Brigham Young University hosted the first meet of the indoor season.
Many athletes started the season off well by proving themselves with strong marks and new personal bests at the first competition of the season.
"I was very pleased with the meet," men's coach Mark Robison said. "The marks were better than I thought they would be. I was also very pleased there were no injuries, which is a huge thing in the first meet of a season. We accomplished what we were hoping to and now we just need to keep that intensity and keep progressing each week."
The competition, which was against Utah Valley State and the University of Utah women was a two-day event, starting with the pentathlon, heptathlon and throws on Friday afternoon.
The women's pentathlon and men's heptathlon produced stellar performances from many of the athletes. Incoming freshmen JennaBree Tollestrup and Meelis Kosk each won their respective events.
Kosk just missed provisional qualification for nationals with a lifetime best score of 5,137 points. Chris Weirich also put in a personal-best effort with his score of 5,008.
Reigning pole vault national champion Robison Pratt couldn't have asked for a better outcome, beginning the season with an automatic qualification for nationals with a vault
of 18 feet .5 inches.
Sprinter Paul Smith competed for BYU two years ago and returned this year with solid performances during the weekend. He made a profound impact on the competition, missing provisional qualification for nationals by .02 seconds in the 60-meters because of altitude adjustment.
The women's events were also representative of positive things to come.
"We performed quite well today," women's coach Craig Poole said. "It's our first competitive experience and we came into it with the idea that this was a time trials to see where we're at. Next week when we go against the big guys we'll know really what we've got. All in all we've had a very good meet that we can build on and the future looks bright."
First to compete for the women were the pentathletes with JennaBree Tollestrup's score of 3,640 putting her in first place.
Leli Fotu took first and teammates Aubrey Cowan and Candace Jones came in fourth and fifth in the 20-lb. weight throw on Friday as well. Fotu threw 56 feet to win over Utah's Vanessa Mortensen threw the hammer at the NCAA Championships last season. Cowan, a freshman, competed for the first time in the weight throw at the competition.
Of the eight athletes who made it to the finals in the shot put, five were from BYU. Javelin thrower Tiffany Arrhenius stepped in to set a personal best of 42 feet 7.5 inches. Also among the shot put competitors was BYU strength coach, Jill Camarena, who competed unattached in the event and broke a Smith Fieldhouse record with her throw of 59 feet.
On Saturday, True freshman Mindy Neeley proved her worth in the competition, winning the 60-meters, 300-meters and long jump.
"Mindy Neeley performed incredibly well," Poole said. "She was one of our top athletes in the competition this weekend."
Both teams will travel to New Mexico next weekend for competition. They will not compete again at home until the outdoor season, when they host five meets, including Mountain West Conference Championships and NCAA Regional Championships. For more information about the team or upcoming meets, log on to www.byucougars.com or www.byutrack.com.