Freshmen Carry Cougs in Second Day of NCAA Championships

BATON ROUGE -- The second day of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships saw BYU earn three All-America citations and qualify two Cougar athletes for Saturday's finals. BYU's freshmen came up big Thursday, as two of the three All-Americans and both of Saturday's qualifiers are in their first year.

Jeff Hansen, the indoor national champion in the pole vault, will be the lone Cougar athlete in action in day three of the NCAA Championships as he looks to improve on his second-place finish at last year's championships.

Women's Javelin

Lindsay Johnson, a freshman from The Dalles, Ore., had a lifetime-best throw of 174-5 to win the first flight of the javelin and put her in third going into the finals. Johnson was unable to improve that mark in the finals, but held on for a third-place finish and the first All-America citation of her BYU career. Purdue's Serene Ross set a new American record with a throw of 195-08 (59.64m) to win and USC's Inga Stasiulionyte was second with a throw of 177-0 (53.96m).

"I was pleased with (Johnson's) performance but not surprised that she threw so well," BYU women's throws coach Richard Legas said. "Coming into the meet we felt she would finish in the top-five, but she did better than we thought."

Women's High Jump

All-American Lindsey Steele, a freshman from Orem, Utah, jumped 5-10 1/2 (1.79m) and finished seventh in the high jump. Steele failed to clear the bar on her first two attempts at 5-10 1/2 but came through with a big jump on her final attempt to earn the second All-America citation of her BYU career. UCLA's Darnesha Griffin won the high jump title at a height of 6-0 (1.83m) to become only the fifth woman in NCAA history to win both the indoor and outdoor championships in the same season.

"Coming into the meet I was a little bit nervous and felt some pressure to become an All-American because I had done it indoors but once I started jumping I just relaxed and had fun," Steele said. "After missing my first two attempts (at 5-8 3/4)I was a little nervous but I knew I was going to clear that height."

Women's 1,500-meter Run (Preliminaries)

Going into the final lap of the 1,500, freshman Kassi Andersen was stuck near the back of the pack with her chances of qualifying for Saturday's finals looking slim. But Andersen found a second wind in the final 300 meters and pushed her way across the line in a personal-best 4:18.04. Her strong finish gave Andersen the last spot in Saturday's finals.

"Kassi knew exactly what she had to do to advance to the finals and she did it," BYU women's distance coach Patrick Shane said. "We are going to wind her up again and if she can put together another race like she did tonight she should be able to score for us."

Junior All-American Jaime Cottle withdrew from the 1,500-meters due to illness.

Women's 3,000-meter Steeplechase (Preliminaries)

Michaela Mannova, a freshman from Dvur Kralov, Czech Republic, stayed in the lead pack throughout the entire race and pushed heat winner Briana Shook of Toledo to the line, finishing second in 9:59.54. Mannova's time of 9:59.54 is a personal best and is, unoffically, a new Czech Republic record. Mannova will run in 3,000-meter steeplechase finals on Saturday.

"Tonight's race was a great race for Michaela and it is a great confidence boost for her going into the finals," Shane said. "Now she knows she can compete for the national championship and she will be one of the three or four favorites going into the race."

Junior All-American Nan Evans just missed qualifying for the finals after running a time of 10:27.56 to finish 14th in today's qualifying heats. Evans time was only 10 seconds slower than that of the final qualifier.

Women's Long Jump

In the first national championship competition of her BYU career, senior Nikki Hughes finished eighth in the long jump with a leap of 20-8 1/2 (6.31m). Hughes earned her first All-America citation and picked up another point for the Cougars in the team competition. Auburn's Elva Goulbourne, who held the top mark coming into the meet, won the long jump with a jump of 22-04 1/2 (6.82m).

"I am happy to be competing at this level but my finish is a little bittersweet for me because I know I could have done better," Hughes said. "I just was not able to hit the boards like I needed to and I did not jump as long as I wanted to. Although I would have liked to finish higher, becoming an All-American is something I have always wanted in my career."