West Region Championships to Begin in Provo

Robbie Pratt is currently second in the nation in the pole vault. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

PROVO -- With another pair of Mountain West Conference Championships titles taken care of for the season, the Cougars have turned their focus to the NCAA West Regional Track and Field Championships that will be May 26-27 on their home field.

Mountain West Conference Recap

The Cougar men lived up to their long-upheld reputation by sealing their seventh consecutive MWC Outdoor Championships win in as many years. The team finished with 248 points, 70 more than second-place Colorado State, and earned one relay and eight individual titles. Chris Carter was named MWC Freshman of the Year and Coach Mark Robison received the Men's Coach of the Year honors.

The Cougar women won five individual titles and scored 183 points over Colorado State's 150.50 to win the women's title. The win was their sixth in seven years.

Bound for West Region Championships

Athletes from 32 teams will visit Provo for region competition. Twenty-four men and 15 women from BYU will compete at the Championships. Excluding the 10,000 meters and multi-events, which will not be competed in at Regionals, any athlete hoping to qualify for the national championships must do so this weekend.

Perhaps the biggest rivalry at the Championships will be between Oregon's Tommy Skipper and BYU's Robbie Pratt in the pole vault competition. Skipper and Pratt are currently ranked first and second, respectively, in the nation and are both national champions. Pratt won the national title in the 2005 outdoor season, Skipper in the 2006 indoor championships.

Or, that rivalry may come between Arizona's Adam Kuehl and BYU's Niklas Arrhenius who are also one and two in the nation in the discus throw.

Ten Cougar men are among the top-5 in the West Region in their respective events: Paul Smith (200 meters), Jacob Gustafsson (800 meters), Kyle Perry (1,500 meters), Dustin Bybee (1,500 meters), Josh McAdams (3,000-meter steeplechase), Chris Carter (400-meter hurdles), David Pendergrass (high jump), Robbie Pratt (pole vault), Whitney Neves (pole vault) and Niklas Arrhenius (discus).

Five BYU women are currently among the West Region's top-10 in their events. Leading the pack is senior Rena Chesser in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Chesser placed third at nationals in 2005 and is ranked second in the region. She is followed by freshman prodigy Amy Fowler, who is ranked third in the region in the event. Other athletes include Michelle Lindsay (800 meters), Nicole Nevitt (400-meter hurdles) and Mandy Lonsway (pole vault).

The pole vaulters lead the charge for the women with five athletes qualified for Regionals, including senior Mandy Lonsway, who set a school record of 13 feet 5.25 inches in the pole vault this season. Other vaulters include Julene Bailey-Kaufusi, Kelly Furr, Makenzie Iorg and Ashley McCallister. The javelin throw has three BYU qualifiers who will each vie for an opportunity to compete at nationals in Tiffany Arrhenius, Sarah Butler and Piret Kuresson.

Results from the Championships will be available after each event is completed at www.byutrack.com.