Cougars, Past and Present, Win at US National Track & Field Championships

PALO ALTO -- Two current BYU track & field athletes, Kassi Andersen and Lindsey Johnson, and one former Cougar, Elizabeth Jackson, all earned the title of National Champion at the 2002 United States Track & Field Championships in Palo Alto, Calif. Five other athletes with BYU ties also had outstanding performances at this year's National Championships.

Johnson, who recently finished her freshman season at BYU, won the 2002 U.S.A. Junior National Championship in the javelin with a mark of 170-00 (51.83 meters). Johnson, a native of The Dalles, Ore., outdistanced the second-place performer, Rachel Walker, by over 10 feet. Johnson, a collegiate All-American, finished third at the 2002 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Baton Rouge, La., with a personal-best mark of 174-5.

Andersen, who also recently finished her freshman season at BYU, claimed the U.S.A. Junior National Championship in the 1,500 meters, winning the event in a time of 4:24.04. Andersen, an eight-time state distance champion at Provo High School, won in dominating fashion, outrunning Shannon Bergstedt, the second-place finisher, by over six seconds. Andersen, also a collegiate All-American, finished ninth at the 2002 NCAA Track & Field Championships in the 1,500 meters.

Jackson, who finished her eligibility at BYU following her steeplechase victory at the 2001 NCAA Track Championships in Eugene, Ore., won the U.S.A. Senior National Championship in the 3,000-meter steeplechase on Sunday with a time of 9:47.35. The current American record holder's time marked the fastest steeplechase time on American soil this season. Jackson, who has been running professionally since completing her eligibility at BYU, competes for Nike. Former Cougar, Kara Ormond, finished sixth in the steeplechase, completing the event in a time of 10:11.34.

Matt Weirich, who just completed his freshman season at BYU, finished second in the junior pole vault competition, recording a height of 16-02.75 (4.95 meters). Weirich, a native of Fredericksburg, Texas, passed at 4.60 meters, only to miss his first attempt at 4.80 meters. After clearing the height on his second attempt, Weirich nailed 4.95 meters on his first attempt. Weirich was unable to clear 5.10 meters in three attempts, giving way to Tommy Skipper, who won the event with a clearing height of 17-06.50 (5.35 meters).

Senior Nikki Hughes, a native of Mesquite, Nev., finished sixth in the senior long jump competition, recording a mark of 20-07.25.

Other athletes with BYU ties who competed at the 2002 U.S.A. Track & Field Championships include freshman Julia Ostler, who turned in a ninth-place performance in the junior 800-meter competition. Ostler, a native of Kearns, Utah, recorded a time of 2:11.53. Former BYU All-American Tara Northcutt, who now runs professionally for New Balance, finished 10th in the 10,000 meters, recording a time of 33:53.47.