In his final duty as head coach of the BYU men's track & field team, Willard Hirschi, who has been affiliated with BYU since 1952, will guide the Cougars to the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Durham, N.C. next week. Eight Cougars have qualified for the 2000 NCAA Championship meet on May 31-June 3, hosted by Duke University. BYU will be making its 39 straight showing at the event, dating back to the 1962 season. This year's meet will mark the second time since 1990 the Blue Devils have hosted the NCAA Championships.
Hirschi, who will end his 48-year union with BYU following the meet, has been the head coach at BYU since 1988. During his tenure, Hirschi, has won a combined 22 indoor and outdoor league championships, including both the 2000 Mountain West Conference Indoor and Outdoor Championships.
Sprinter Kenneth Andam qualified in the 100-meters with season-best time of 10.13 on May 10 at the Utah Collegiate Championships. For seeding purposes, Andam's time has been adjusted for altitude to 10.19. Andam, a native of Takoradi, Ghana, will enter the race as the 13th-ranked competitor. Andam is coming off a pair of winning performances in the 100- (10.27) and 200-meter (20.68) competitions at the first-ever Mountain West Conference Championships.
Currently ranked sixth in the nation, senior Marc Chenn has also qualified by posting a winning mark of 7'-04.5" (2.25 meters) at the Mountain West Conference Championships. Chenn, a seventh-place finisher at the 1999 NCAA Championships in Boise, Ida., has won back-to-back Conference outdoor high jump titles and posted BYU's second-highest mark ever with his winning performance at the MWC Outdoor Championships.
Recently named the MWC Top Performer, junior Jim Roberts qualified in the shotput with a career-best and event-winning mark of 65'-03.25" (19.89 meters) at the league outdoor championship meet. Roberts' finished sixth at the 1999 NCAA Championships in the shotput and currently ranks second in the nation. Roberts' performance last weekend marked the second longest put in BYU history.
Intermediate hurdler Kyle Grossarth will also compete at the NCAA Championships, having qualified with a time of 49.92 on May 6th. Grossarth's time has been adjusted to 50.02 due to altitude, ranking his as the 11th fastest hurdler in the nation. Grossarth's time at the BYU Tri-Meet (49.82) ranks as the second fastest in BYU history. Only Ralph Mann's 1970 time of 48.74, then a world record, is the only other fastest time in Cougar history. This year's trip to Durham will mark the second straight NCAA Championship appearance for the Avondale, Ariz., native.
Fresh off a two-year LDS Church mission to Aurstralia, freshman Curtis Pugsley took the Mountain West Conference by storm, winning the 2000 MWC Decathlon title with an impressive 7,525-point performance. The Conference Freshman of the Year, who set nine PRs during his performance, is the highest-ranking freshman entering the NCAA Championships and fifth-ranked overall.
Thobias Akwenye, a native of Windhoek, Nambia, Slade Combs, a Sandy, Utah product and Cody Fonnesbeck, a freshman from St. George, Utah, will join Andam as members of the BYU 4x100-meter relay team. The foursome improved their qualifying mark to 39.40 at the MWC Championships, winning the event over favored Colorado State. Ranked 17th in the nation, BYU's time has been adjusted to 39.64, due to altitude.
For more information on the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, including event schedules and list of qulifiers, check out the official championships website of the NCAA at www.ncaachampionships.com.