Katie Palmer will compete in the 800m at the New Balance Invitational (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- With conference championships and the NCAA Nationals quickly approaching, BYU track teams are heading to the New Balance Invitational in New York to take on some of the best collegiate programs in the country.
Several ranked teams from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll will be among the 200-plus teams in attendance. No. 1 Florida will make its case to remain at the top of the leader board while, No. 2 LSU, No. 3 Texas A&M and No. 4 Texas Tech will all be competing.
“It’s always been an incredible meet because of the level of competition,” men’s head coach Mark Robison said. “It is an opportunity to compete against teams we don’t usually see and it’s great preparation for Nationals.”
The meet will be the first point-scoring meet of the season and the Cougars will be looking to make good decisions in races and events to earn points where they can.
“Like every week we are hoping to improve,” Robison said. “This time however, its more about making good decisions in races and getting better marks to get higher placement.”
BYU’s runners will spotlight the team look to be as strong as ever with several athletes making the trip. Junior Miles Batty will compete in the 800-meter, an event where he holds the seventh fastest time in the nation at 1:48.88. Junior Justin Hedin will also compete and he currently holds the 11th ranked 800-meter time at 1:49.59.
In the field events several pole vaulters will be trying to improve on their top season marks. Sophomore Victor Weirich has already cleared an automatic qualifying mark of 5.50m (18-00.50) and Junior Chris Little has a personal season-high of 5.30m (17-04.50), good enough for second and fifth in the NCAA.
The BYU women’s track and field team, currently ranked No. 7 according to the USTFCCCA poll, will be one of six NCAA top-10 teams competing at the New Balance Invitational. Other top teams include No. 2 and reigning national champion Texas A&M, No. 3 LSU, No. 5 Tennessee, No.6 Arkansas and No. 8 Texas.
“This is an opportunity for us to compete against some of the best teams in the NCAA,” women’s head coach Patrick Shane said. “This is the biggest collegiate indoor meet in the country and we are excited to go out and compete.”
Junior Lacey Bleazard will compete in the 800-meter run and enters the meet ranked second in the nation with a time of 2:05.55. Junior Katie Palmer will also compete in the 800m and currently holds the fifth-fastest time in the NCAA.
Also highlights the BYU team will be the distance medley relay team of Bleazard, Palmer, Natalie Stewart and Nicole Clark. The team put together the second-fastest DMR relay time in the country last week at the Washington Invitational and will look to run an automatic qualifying time in New York.
Sophomore Rachel Fisher highlights the field events for the Cougars and will compete in the pole vault. Fisher currently holds a top-10 pole vault mark and will also look to automatically qualify for Nationals on Saturday.