Jason Dorais was one of the many athletes with top performances in New Mexico this weekend. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
ALBUQUERQUE -- The BYU track and field teams spent the day Saturday competing against some of the top teams in the nation in New Mexico at the Modrall Sperling Lobo Invitational.
"There was some really great competition here," Coach Craig Poole said. "We had some highlights and some lowlights and now we know how well we are going to have to compete for the rest of the year. I am very encouraged by what I saw."
Thirty-four nationally-ranked athletes and 11 nationally-ranked schools competed in the single day of competition. NCAA qualifying marks or times were recorded in 27 of the 32 events at the meet. Although the competition was intense, the Cougar women still found ways to set personal bests and make an impact in the meet.
A highlight for the team was the performance of the pole vaulters. Two women, Ashley McAllister and Mandy Lonsway, tied for third and set a new indoor school record in the event, both vaulting to a height of 12 feet 5.5 inches.
A pair of distance runners put forth noteworthy performances for the Cougars as well. Senior Ann Heiner passed up athletes from the University of New Mexico, Colorado State, Texas A&M, UTEP and Lousiana State University to take a collegiate division first place in the 3,000 meters. Ann Marie Thomas, a sophomore, also won the collegiate division of the mile with a time of 5:02.01.
The men showed promise and ability in a meet that is said to be one of the best of the indoor season behind conference championships and nationals.
"It was a good meet," Coach Mark Robison said. We had some great progress across the board. The guys were very consistent and competed well against a very loaded field of athletes."
After an automatic qualification for nationals in Provo last week, national champion pole vaulter Robison Pratt won his event with a vault of 17 feet 11 inches. Teammates Matt Weirich and Bob Low went four and five in the event, both vaulting to a height of 16 feet 6.75 inches.
Jason Dorais and Jacob Gustafsson performed well on the track with second and third place finishes in the 800 meters.
Competition for the 200 meters was stiff but Paul Smith ran his way to a third place finish and a time of 21.46. Coming in ahead of Smith was LSU's Xavier Carter who is nationally ranked number one in the event and national qualifier Daniel Ward of UTEP.
The Cougars will continue the indoor season this week with three separate meets. The pole vaulters will compete at Pole Vault Summit in Reno, Nevada on Thursday and the rest of the team will compete at the Washington Invitational on Saturday. The women will also compete at the University of Illinois.
The next home meet for the Cougars will not be until the outdoor season, where they will host five meets, including the Mountain West Conference Championships and NCAA Regional Championships. For more information about the teams or future meets, see their websites at www.byucougars.com or www.byutrack.com.