BYU placed first in both the men and women's distance medley relays at the MWC Indoor Championships Friday. The men finshed in 10:21.04 while the women finished 12:23.22.
COLORADO SPRINGS -- An incredible 5,000-meter finish and several first place marks give the BYU men’s and women’s track teams an impressive lead at the Mountain West Conference Championships in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“We did very well today,” said BYU men’s track and field head coach Mark Robison. “We scored 93 points in six events which is very very good. This has been one of the best meets we’ve had all season.”
Heading up the wins for the No. 18 Cougars was Phillip Bettis bringing home first-place in the heptathlon with 5392 points, the third-best score in MWC championship history. Bettis was followed by teammates Meelis Kosk in second with 5379 points and Justin Palmer tallying third with 5051 points.
While BYU dominated the heptathlon, Trevor Heiner stepped things up in the high jump with a first-place finish clearing a height of 6 feet 9.75 feet.
In an incredible final round of the distance medley relay, senior All-American Kyle Perry finished strong for the Cougars pulling away for part of the race then reeling the competition back in for the final stretch. Beating out New Mexico by .24 seconds, BYU finished with a first-place time of 10:21.04, while New Mexico trailed 10:21.30. The three other Cougars that paved the way for Perry’s finish were senior Miles Batty, senior All-American Keith Jensen and junior Brian Weirich.
Keeping things going strong in the field events, junior Leif Arrhenius threw a personal record and season best distance of 68 feet 3.75 inches. Oliver Whaley also set a new personal record with a distance of 62 feet 10.50 inches.
Keeping up with personal bests, Aarron Powell also recorded a new personal record in the long jump clearing a distance of 23 feet 3.50 inches for third place.
The final strong sweep of the night for the Cougar men was in the 5000-meter. Closing in second, third and fourth places were Brandon Hebbert (15:12.53), Nathan Ogden (15:14.25) and John Kotter (15:15.29), respectively.
Day three of the MWC Indoor Championships will resume Saturday with Jensen and Jacob Gustafsson competeing in the finals for the 800-meter, Kevin Biesinger in the 200 and 400-meters and freshman Rhyan Atrice in the 60-meter dash and 200-meter.
The No. 15 BYU women’s track team extended its lead on Friday with 83 points. The Cougars are first, headed into the final day of competition with Utah trailing in second with 32 points and Air Force rounding out the top three with 24 points.
”We had an excellent second day,” said BYU women’s distance coach Patrick Shane. “We had some surprises and setbacks, but that’s customary with track and field. Natalie Stewart had a little hamstring injury, but I think she will be healthy for nationals. Other than that we had a great day. Cecily Lemmon, the pole vaulters and everyone else performed really well.”
Lemmon carried Thursday’s momentum into Friday with a 5,000 meter championship victory. Lemmon and Utah’s Lauren Endersen broke free from the pack in the last 200 meters with Enderson controlling a slight lead. In the final stretch BYU’s Lemmon used a late surge to get past Enderson and secure a Cougar victory. Lemmon’s time of 18:27.48 was less than a second faster than Utah’s Enderson.
Adding to the Cougar point total was the BYU pole vaulting squad of Kelli Ehardt, Kari McAllister Clark and Ashley Sheppard. The three teammates earned the Cougars 20 points with all three jumping to career bests.
“It was an amazing performance,” said women’s pole vault coach Erik Rasmussen “We wanted to focus on consistency rather than being spectacular, but we ended up with both today. All three pole vaulters earned personal records and that is more than we could have asked for. They keep getting better which is really exciting.”
Freshman standout Ehardt took the pole vault title with a jump of 13-01.50. Junior McAllister Clark finished second with a jump of 13-01.50 and senior Sheppard placed seventh (12-05.50) in the event.
Also scoring for BYU was sophomore Deezbaa Whaley who had an impressive throw of 57-04.25. Whaley’s third place performance in the weight throw event earned the Cougars six points.
The All-American tandem of Amy Menlove and Mindy Neeley continued their meet dominance in the long jump. Menlove took second with a jump of 20-09.00 and Neeley finished fifth with a jump of 20-01.00.
Ending the second day of competition was the distance medley relay team of Rachel Lange, Nachelle Stewart, Emily Dunn and Anna Sperry. The four combined for a first place time of 12:23.22.
Both BYU track teams will continue to compete on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. The meet will conclude with the men's and women's 4x400 at 1:30 and 1:45 p.m.