BATON ROUGE -- Wednesday marked the first day of the 2002 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Three BYU athletes competed, including Mao Tjiroze in the 800 meters, Aron Szmuda in the long jump and Lindsey Thomsen in the 10,000 meters.
Seven BYU additional athletes will compete on Thursday, including senior Nikki Hughes, who compete in the long jump. Hughes currently holds the second longest mark in the country this season and is expected to compete for the NCAA title. Lindsay Johnson will compete for the Cougars in the javelin, while Lindsey Steele will compete in the high jump. Four other BYU athletes will compete in two distance events, including Jaime Cottle and Kassi Andersen in the 1,500 meters and Michaela Mannova and Nan Evans in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
MEN'S 800-METERS (Preliminiaries)
After spending 700 of the 800 meters in a hard-fought battle for second place, BYU senior Mao Tjiroze ran out of steam in the last 100 meters to finish sixth place in the first of three heats of the 800-meters. Tjiroze was passed by five other competitors in the final 100 meters, finishing with a time of 1:49.23. The 2001 NCAA 800-meter champion, Otukile Lekote from South Carolina, won the heat in a time of 1:46.49 and will advance to the finals on Friday as the event?s top qualifier.
"I think Mao may have gone a little fast in the first 600 meters," BYU distance coach Ed Eyestone said. "He didn?t have enough left to have a big finish, which is something we usually count on from him. He had a great season, but he just didn?t have enough today."
MEN'S LONG JUMP
Aron Szmuda, a sophomore from Levice, Slovakia Republic, finished 13th overall in the long jump, posting a top mark of 24'10.5". After scratching in his first attempt, Szmuda recorded went on to record jumps of 7.50 meters, 7.58 meters and 7.57 meters.
"On his first jump, he missed the board," BYU head men?s coach Mark Robison said. "That jump probably would have been good enough to advance to the finals. But, he was able to come back and hit some jumps, but they just didn?t have the distance that his first attempt had."
Lindsey Thomsen, a junior from American Fork, Utah, finished 16th in the 10,000 with a time of 35:38.62. Thomsen remained in the front pack for much of the race before falling back with six laps remaining. Kristin Price of North Carolina State won the event in a time of 34:26.63.
"Obviously tonight wasn?t one of her better races," BYU distance coach Patrick Shane said. "It's to bad she didn?t have a better race here at nationals, because she has had a great season."