Track and Field Athletes Set Best Marks in Washington

Leli Fotu was one of many Cougar athletes who competed well Saturday. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

SEATTLE -- The BYU track and field teams topped off the regular indoor season with best marks and national qualifications at the Husky Classic Saturday.

"I thought we had a good meet with some great performances," Coach Mark Robison said. "I feel good going into the conference championships with our level of health and our marks where they are."

All-American pole vaulter Robbie Pratt earned an automatic qualification for nationals with a vault of 18 feet 4.75 inches to win the event. Decathlete Matt Weirich was behind him in third with a season best mark of 16 feet 7.25 inches.

Newcomers were key to BYU's success in the 400 meters. Freshman Chris Carter clocked a stellar performance, improving his personal best to 47.06 to win the event and provisionally qualify for nationals. Fellow freshman Jason Howard also advanced his best to 48.27 in the event. Carter followed-up his performance with a fourth-place finish in the 60-meter hurdles behind teammate Jake Garlick who finished third with a time of 8.15.

The high jumpers have assumed the top four positions in the MWC and held up to their reputation Saturday. They were led by David Pendergrass, who was recently named MWC co-athlete of the week. Pendergrass and freshman Trevor Heiner took third and fourth in the event, both reaching 6 feet 10.75 inches.

The women's distance squad also joined the men for competition in Washington. Sophomore Michelle Lindsay earned her first provisional qualification for nationals with a personal-best performance of 2:08.59 in the 800 meters. Cross country All-American Chelsea Smith McKell also qualified in the 5,000 meters with a time of 16:14.65. Anne Heiner set a team season-best in the 3,000 meters with her time of 9:36.49.

The remainder of the women's team competed at the University of New Mexico. Participants at the meet included four nationally ranked women's athletes, one of which was BYU's own Kamila Rywelska, currently ranked eighth in the triple jump.

"All in all we did really well," Coach Craig Poole said. "I am very pleased with the progress we have made."

Tipaleli Fotu topped the Cougar scores for the day, throwing 58 feet 9.25 inches in the weight throw to win the event and set a new personal best. Rywelska finished third in the triple jump with a season-best jump of 41 feet 9.75 inches.

Five Cougar women placed in the top-10 of the pole vault competition, led by Mandy Kelly Lonsway and Ashley McCallister, both vaulting 12 feet 6.25 inches. Freshman Mindy Neeley ran the 200 meters in 24.71 to place sixth and set a personal and BYU season best.

The teams will rest next weekend but both teams will return to New Mexico Feb. 23-25 to compete in the MWC Indoor Championships.

The Cougars will host their next meet at the onset of outdoor competition. Provo will be home to five outdoor meets, including the MWC Outdoor Championships and the NCAA Regional Championships. For more information about upcoming meets or the BYU Track and field program, visit our Web sites at www.byucougars.com or www.byutrack.com.

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