(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- The BYU men will occupy four of the nine lanes in Saturday's final of the 400-meter hurdles after a dominating performance on Friday at the Clarence Robison Invitational. The BYU women were equally impressive in the 100-meter hurdles, also advancing four athletes to Saturday's final.
In the men's 400-meter hurdles, senior Greg Flint turned in the fastest qualifying time in the West Region of the season, winning the first heat in a time of 51.17. Freshman Ben Gardner recorded a personal-best to win the second heat in a regional qualifying time 51.37. Junior Kansas Whitear finished second behind Flint in the first heat to record the fourth fastest qualifying time of the day. Whitear turned in a personal-best 51.69, which is also a regional qualifying time. Senior Daymon Visser turned in a season-best 53.72 to advance to Saturday's final.
"The best event of the day had to be the hurdles," head men's coach Mark Robison said. "Greg Flint had the fastest time in our whole region. Then Gardner and Whitear had lifetime bests and are both top-five in our region as well."
Freshman Amy Menlove, who was also the top collegiate finisher in the women's long jump competition with a personal-best jump of 20-03.75, recorded a 14.05 to win the fourth heat of the women's 100-meter hurdles. Junior Hillary Enloe (14.53), Miriam Fisher (14.74) and Taylor Teerlink (14.77) also advanced to Saturday's final in the event.
"Amy had a great day," BYU women's head coach Craig Poole said. "She's going to be a good one for us. She only needs a 13.95 to qualify for regionals and got a 14.05 in the prelims. She'll reach the qualifying time tomorrow."
In final events on Friday, Menlove was the top collegiate performer behind former All-American Nikki Hughes who won the competition with a mark of 20-10.00 Junior Lindsey Sommer finished fourth with a distance of 18-06.50, while Liis Berendsen finished fifth (18-05.75) and Hillary Enloe finished seventh (17-04.75.
Junior Suzanna Logan, the lone representative for the Cougars, won the 5,000 meters in a time of 17:49.13. Maret Komarova finished tenth in the shotput with a distance of 44-03.25 and took sixth in the javelin with a toss of 133-09. Freshman Tiffany Rasmussen finished seventh with a mark of 131-11. Anna-Lee Walcott was 11th with a distance of 126-03.
While a handful of the nation's top 1,500-meter runners with compete on Saturday, including Nathan Robison, who has the fastest 1,500-meter time in the nation, junior Chad Durham competed in the open division of the 1,500 meters on Friday, winning the event in a time of 4:02.12.
"We have some of the best 1,500 guys in the country," Coach Robison said. "The race on Saturday is going be to very competitive. That will be a race people won't want to miss."
BYU's Matt Hickman finished third in the javelin final on Friday, recording a throw of 194-07.
Other athletes who have qualified for Saturday's finals include football player Nate Soelberg, who edged out former All-American Kenneth Andam in the third heat with a time of 10.97 in the 100 meters. Sophomore Paul Smith also advanced to the finals in the 100 meters with a time of 10.86. Matt Rowe and David Chesser will compete in the 400 meters after recording the top-two preliminary times in the event on Friday. Ben Gardner and Visser advanced in the 100-meter hurdles, while Matt Rowe and Smith will compete in the 200-meter finals.
On the women's side, Mary Bennon and Laura Evans will compete in the 400 meters on Saturday, along with Jennifer Rockwell and Teerlink who will compete in the 400-meter hurdles. Julie Cameron, Carolyn Quebe and Allison Passey will compete in the 800-meter finals. Rockwell and Menlove will also compete in the 100-meter finals after recording the second and third fastest times in the prelims.
"I think we've done pretty well today," Poole said. "As far as qualifying for Saturday, I believe we are qualified across the board in everything we have entered. Tomorrow we just have to be strong."
According to both Robison and Poole, the Robison Invitational, which has typically been a strong event for the Cougars, serves two purposes for the athletes.
"Marks are what are important," Robison said. "Lets get qualified and get to that regional meet. The other part is developing consistency as we head into the conference meet.
"Tomorrow should be just a fabulous day for us. We started out really well in the decathlon and it has continued through today and hopefully tomorrow."
The final day of the Robison Invitational will get underway at 12 noon. The day will start with a special ceremony, honoring legendary coach Clarence Robison. University officials, as well as former athletes and coaches, will be on hand as the BYU Track & Field Complex will be renamed the Clarence F. Robison Track.