Rena Chesser won the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the UCLA Invitational. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
LOS -- The Cougar track and field athletes took giant strides toward a stellar season with personal bests and provisional qualifications highlighting this weekend's competition at the UCLA Invitational.
Friday competition began with All-American Rena Chesser and newcomer Amy Fowler going 1-2 in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Chesser finished with a time of 10:21.69 and Fowler followed just behind with a time of 10:31.02 in her first steeplechase competition.
"It was a good weekend for competition with weather conditions conducive to some great performances," women's coach Craig Poole said. "We had quite a few qualifiers and we're really proud of how the athletes performed."
The Cougar women cruised into the top three spots in the 5,000 meters with Chelsea Smith McKell in first with a regional-qualifying time of 16:35.31. Teammates Jenna Taylor Jensen and Sarah Hansen took the next top spots. The distance events had continued success with Laura Taylor taking second in the 1,500 meters with a time of 4:30.66 and Anne Heiner getting her second-place finish in the 3,000 meters with a time of 9:43.01.
The pole vaulting competition also produced favorable results for BYU women and men. Two women qualified for regionals in the event in Kelly Nesbit Furr and Makenzie Hobbs Iorg. Mandy Kelly Lonsway, who previously qualified in the event, reached a team and personal-best performance 13 feet 1.5 inches at the meet. Taking his turn in the spotlight, freshman Whitney Neves set a personal-best of 17 feet 1.5 inches to win the men's university pole vault competition.
Freshman Chris Carter doubled up with a second place finish in the 400 and again in the 200 meters. All-American Jacob Gustafsson continued the top-performance streak with a first-place finish and time of 1:51.00 in the 800-meter university competition. Fellow All-American Jason Dorais qualified for regionals in the 800-meter invitational with his time of 1:50.21.
We had some great qualifying performances this weekend," men's coach Mark Robison said. "Our men did well and all we need now is for them to stay sharp and healthy."
Three Cougars finished in the top five of the mile. Steeplechaser Josh McAdams took second in the event with a time of 4:03.36, Dustin Bybee crossed the line in third and Tyrel Jensen finished fifth. McAdams and Bybee qualified to run the 1,500 meters at regionals with those times.
Throws champion Niklas Arrhenius threw the discus for 200 feet to win the event and then proceeded to qualify for regionals in the shot put with a throw of 58 feet 4 inches. Senior Matt Anderson had his first outdoor competition of the year, taking third in the long jump with a jump of 22 feet 11 inches.
Several of the men also competed at the Texas Relays over the weekend. National champion Robbie Pratt made his debut in the outdoor season, winning the pole vault competition with a height of 18 feet 4.5 inches. Many sprinters and hurdlers also competed with the most promising results coming from the 4x200 team's time of 1:26.06.
The Cougars will be the host of next week's meet, the Y Invitational. This will be the second of five home meets that include the MWC Outdoor Championships and the NCAA Regional Championships. For more information about the BYU track and field program visit www.byucougars.com and www.byutrack.com.