Indoor Nationals on the Horizon

(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

PROVO -- Twelve athletes from the BYU men’s and women’s track teams will compete at the NCAA Division I Indoor Championships in College Station, Texas this weekend.

The No. 19 women’s track team will compete in five events at this year’s championship meet. The Cougars, who competed in one event last year, will send seven athletes including an alternate to this year’s nationals.

“I’m very optimistic about this weekend,” BYU women’s head coach Craig Poole said. “This is going to be one of the toughest meets they have ever been in, but I’m confident in our athletes abilities.”

Junior Amy Menlove will look to become a two-time All-American in both the long jump and pentathlon. Prior to her LDS mission, Menlove received All-America honors in 2005 with a second-place finish in the pentathlon and a third-place finish in the long jump.

“Amy’s workload is going to be difficult,” Poole said. “An hour after she completes the pentathlon, she will have to compete in the long jump. But she is a great competitor and I think she can handle it.”

Also competing this weekend for the Cougars is the nations No. 2 ranked distance medley relay team.

“We have a great DMR team,” said BYU distance coach Patrick Shane. “We have finished second several times and I think this year we have an opportunity to win a national championship. It will be tough, considering how good Tennessee and the rest of the competition is, but I believe we are right there.”

This season’s team of Katie Palmer and Angela Wagner, who were on last year’s All-America DMR team, joined up with freshmen sisters Natalie and Nachelle Stewart to break a Mountain West Conference and BYU DMR record in a time of 11:04.91.

“We are capable of breaking eleven minutes,” Shane said. “Katie Palmer, Angela Wagner, Lacey Cramer and Nachelle Stewart are all incredible competitors and give us a great chance to win.”

Palmer will pull double duty this weekend, coupling the DMR race with an 800-meter performance. Palmer, a standout middle distance runner, ranks second on the MWC and BYU All-Time 800-meter list—a record she earned this year at the New Balance Invitational in New York.

Also competing in the 800-meter event will be Lacey Cramer. Cramer, one of the country’s top freshmen, is aiming to cap-off her indoor campaign with an All-America performance this weekend. Cramer owns the BYU and MWC record in the 800-meter event. Cramer broke both records one week after Palmer had set them in New York.

The BYU men’s track team will also look to score well at this year’s nationals.

“This is going to be a very fun and very exciting weekend for our team,” said BYU men’s track and field head coach Mark Robision. “All of our athletes have high chances of becoming All-Americans. I expect the DMR team to run very well. That should be an incredible race.”

The men’s team will be competing in the distance medley relay, pole vault and weight throw events.

Representing BYU, and ranked fifth nationally with a time of 9:29.97, the DMR team is made up of senior All-Americans Jacob Gustafsson, Keith Jensen, Kyle Perry and junior Kevin Biesinger.

Also ranked fifth nationally in the pole vault is senior All-American Robert Low. Low is currently in a three-way tie for fifth place with a height of 5.45 meters.

Rounding up the field events for the Cougars is junior All-American Leif Arrhenius in the weight throw. Arrhenius is ranked 12th nationally with a distance of 20.82 meters.

Events begin Friday at 10 a.m. CT with the combined events. Running events are scheduled to begin at 3:55 p.m. and go until 9:35 p.m. CT, while the field events will begin at 4 p.m. and go until 6:50 p.m.