2012 Meet-by-Meet Review

BYU Indoor Invitational

In the first meet of the 2012 indoor season, the women’s track and field team won nine events and took the top-three spots in six events as they dominated the BYU Indoor Invitational. The pole vault was the top event for the Cougars. Junior Rachel Fisher finished first with a jump of 4.10 meters (13-5.50). Freshman Nicole Naatjes, competing in her first collegiate meet, took second in the event by clearing 3.80m (12-5.50), and sophomore Elizabeth Portanova cleared 3.65m (11-11.75) to take third.

“It was the first meet, and that definitely showed,” head coach Patrick Shane said. “But we had some athletes whose marks were very impressive. In all meets there are always highs and lows and everything in between. This meet was no different.”

Blue & Orange Opener

In the second meet of the season and the first away from Provo, the women’s track team performed well in Boise with six event wins and several great performances. Junior Nachelle Mackie competed for the first time in 2012 after redshirting in 2011. Mackie, an All-American in 2010, won the 800-meter race in 2:07.52. Her time ranked first in the NCAA in 2012 by almost three seconds. Ada Robinson, an All-American high jumper in 2011, won the high jump for the second consecutive week by clearing 1.75m. Fellow high jumper and All-American Diana Blauer finished second to Robinson with a leap of 1.65m.

"We had a really nice meet in Idaho and improved quite a bit over previous meets," Shane said. "We opened up a few more athletes and had some great individual performances. It was nice to have athletes like Nachelle competing for us again." 

Cherry & Silver Invitational

Senior Diane Stewart set a unique American record in the indoor 400-meter hurdles to lead to women’s track team at the New Mexico Cherry and Silver Invitational. Stewart finished the race in 1:01.21 to set the record. By winning the event, she became the first-ever American runner to complete an official indoor 400 hurdle. The event is typically run during the outdoor season.

“This was the first time in history the indoor 400 hurdles has ever been officially run in the United States,” assistant coach Corey Murdock said. “It was a unique opportunity for our athletes. Diane won the event and will be the American record holder until the race is contested by professionals on this track in a few weeks.”

Washington Invitational

Katie Palmer led the women’s track and field team with a personal record performance in the mile at the annual Washington Invitational. Palmer crossed the line in 4:39.38 and trailed only professional runners. Palmer’s time ranks second in BYU history and was the third fastest time in the NCAA in 2012 at the time. All-American Lacey Bleazard competed in the 800, her premier event, for the first time. She finished second among collegians in 2:05.88, which trailed only Mackie’s time in the NCAA in 2012.

“We had a great meet in Washington,” Shane said. “The 800 and mile were both really exciting races. Lacey and Katie both ran really well.”

Air Force Team Challenge

While the distance runners competed in Washington, the sprinters and jumpers competed at the Air Force Team Challenge in Colorado. Senior Christen Guenther led the way with a win in the pole vault by clearing 4.05m (13-3.50). Naatjes finished third in the pole vault with personal best jump of 3.90m (12-9.50).

In the high jump, seniors Robinson and Blauer finished second and third, respectively. Robinson cleared 1.76m (5-9.25), while Blauer jumped 1.73m (5-8.00). Arlene Gowar led the way in the sprints with a personal best 7.64 in the 60, good enough for second. Danielle Figgins finished second in the 200 in 25.06, while Gowar crossed in 25.10 to take third. Fatima Makakala neared a personal best in the 60 hurdles with a third-place finish at 8.66.

New Balance Invitational

Mackie and Guenther had record-breaking performances to lead the track and field team to a second-place team finish at the prestigious New Balance Invitational. Mackie won the 800 in 2:03.56, which led the nation at that point during the 2012 indoor season. Her time broke the school record set by teammate Bleazard in her National Championship win in 2009. Mackie’s time also broke the New Balance Invitational record for the 800.

Guenther soared over 4.30m (14-1.25) in the pole vault and finished second in the event. Her mark broke the BYU record that was set last season by Rachel Fisher. The mark ranked sixth in the nation in 2012 at the time during the season.

"We were so proud of our girls for bringing it to New York that weekend,” Shane said. “We were happy to get second because there was some great competition there. We edged out national powers from LSU, Texas A&M and Baylor, which was great for our program."

Air Force Invitational

In the final weekend of competition before the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships, the women’s track and field team found success at the Air Force Invitational. Blauer led the Cougars at the Invitational with a second-place finish in the high jump. Blauer cleared 1.75m (5-8.75) to take second, while teammate Robinson placed fourth with a mark of 1.70m (5-7.00).

Fatima Makakala led the way on the track with a fourth-place finish in the 60 hurdles in 8.67. Stewart came in just behind Makakala and finished seventh in 8.73. Stewart also competed in the 400 alongside teammate Angela Shields. Stewart crossed the line at 57.74 to finish fifth, while Shields snagged sixth at 57.87.

"We had a lot of personal records at our meet in Colorado," Shane said. "We seemed to be breaking a lot of records at the time.”

Husky Classic

In Washington, the distance runners competed against top competition in the Husky Classic. Andrea Nelson had a strong performance in the 3000 with a sixth-place finish in 10:07.46. Amy Thornton competed in the 800 and finished 35th in 2:14.86.

In the 5000, Kendra Christensen led the way for BYU in 17:44.67, while Kathryn Vidmar finished in 18:09.48. Nicole Nielsen crossed the line in 18:10.81.

MPSF Championships          

Bleazard, Mackie, Palmer and Sarah Edwards combined to break the Dempsey Indoor Track Facility and Mountain Pacific Sports Federation distance medley record with a fourth-place finish in the event in 11:01.35. The team automatically qualified for the NCAA National Championships with the time.  Although the Cougars broke both the facility and meet records, they still finished behind teams from Washington, Oregon and California.

NCAA Indoor Championships

Mackie won the National Championships in the 800 with a time of 2:03.30, a time that set a new school record as well as the fastest time in the NCAA in 2012. Palmer finished third in the same race, with a time of 2:04.56. Both Palmer and Mackie earned All-America honors from the race.

“I took the lead early and although it wasn't necessarily the position I wanted to be in initially, I realized no one else was going to take it so I needed to," Mackie said. "Once I was in the lead, I told myself that I wasn't going to let anyone take it from me. It was so exciting to be able to fulfill one of my dreams."

San Diego State Invitational

A rain-shortened schedule did not prevent the women’s track and field team from producing several personal best marks at the first meet of the outdoor season. Junior Allyson Anderson had the best performance of the day when she topped her javelin personal record by nearly three meters with a toss of 49.82m (163-05). She finished first in the event.

“It rained so much that the drainage system on the track overflowed and caused some flooding in the competition area,” head coach Patrick Shane said. “We did not get to compete as much as we wanted, but we still had some great performances and personal bests.” 

USC Invitational

Junior Allyson Anderson led the women’s track & field team with a dominating performance in the javelin at the USC Trojan Invitational. She set a new personal best in the javelin with a throw of 51.19m (167-11). Her throw ranks third in BYU history and ranked third in the NCAA in 2012 at the time. Anderson was the lone Cougar to win an event at the meet.

The high jump was also a strong event for the Cougars. Senior Diana Blauer led BYU with a second-place finish after a season-best jump of 1.70m (5-7.00). Ada Robinson and Taylor Stapley tied for sixth in the event with a height of 1.60m (5-3.00).

Texas Relays

Senior Christen Guenther tied the BYU women's outdoor pole vault record at the Texas Relays. Guenther cleared 4.25m (13-11.25) on her second attempt to tie the record. The mark is a new outdoor career best for Guenther, who now sits atop the BYU record board with Kari Clark, who cleared 4.25m in 2010. 

UVU Collegiate Invitational

Six Cougars brought home victories at the annual UVU Invite. Freshman Lexi Eaton, who also competes on the women’s basketball team, won the high jump in her first-ever collegiate competition. Eaton cleared 1.75m (5-9.00) to take home the win.

"A lot of our athletes took the UVU Invitational as a chance to rest, but the athletes we did have compete ended up with some great marks," Shane said. "Lexi really performed well in the high jump in her first competition of the year. We also had some other great performances by freshmen, including Nicole Naatjes in the pole vault." 

The Cougars took the top three spots in the pole vault and were led by freshman Nicole Naatjes, who won the event with an outdoor season-best vault of 3.90m (12-9.50). Elizabeth Portanova and Diane McAllister Perry tied for second with heights of 3.75m (12-3.75).

Stanford Invitational

Highlights from the Stanford meet include the 2012 National Champion Nachelle Mackie finishing first in the 800, with a time of 2:03.02.

BYU-USC-Boise State Tri-Meet

Eaton scored a new personal record in the high jump at the first outdoor home meet of the season, a height that placed her in the top-15 in the nation in 2012. Eaton, competing in only her second competition of the year, cleared 1.80m (5’ 10.75”) for the first-place finish.

Along with Eaton, four other Cougars secured first-place finishes, with BYU exhibiting especially strong performances in the field events: Nicole Naatjes in the pole vault, Keltner in the triple jump, Katherine Swanson in the 1500 and Kendra Christensen in the 3000.

Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational

Eaton continued her improvement in the high jump at the Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational to pace the women’s track and field team.

"Lexi continued to improve every week," Shane said. "She finished second at UCLA but only narrowly got beat by a professional. We had a number of other great performances at that meet. Overall, it was a great day for us." 

Eaton set a personal best in the high jump with a leap of 1.81m (5-11.25) to place first among collegiate competitors at the meet. The mark tied for ninth in the NCAA in 2012 at the time. This is also the third consecutive meet in which Eaton set a new personal best. Competing alongside Eaton in the high jump was Blauer, who set an outdoor season best with a jump of 1.76m (5-9.25).

Mt. Sac Relays

Mackie led the women’s track and field team once again at the 54th annual Mt. SAC Relays with her performance in the 800. Mackie finished in 2:01.11. In a heat comprised of seven professional athletes and no other collegians, Mackie finished second and was closing on the leader on the final straightaway.

“Nachelle’s performance in the 800 was the highlight of the meet for us,” Shane said. “She ran against professionals and ran the best race of her career. I thought she had the potential to beat the school record that has stood since 1987.”

Also competing in the 800 at Mt. SAC was All-American Lacey Bleazard. In only her second race of the season, Bleazard finished sixth in the Olympic Development heat in 2:06.38.

Mark Faldmo Invitational

While the distance runners competed at Mt. SAC, several sprinters and field athletes performed at the Mark Faldmo Invitational at Utah State. Aubrey Hale led the way with a season best time of 11.86 to win the 100. Kassie Jensen ran alongside Hale in the 100 and finished second in 11.92.

Jensen narrowly beat Hale in the 200 and finished second in 24.56, while Hale crossed the line in third in 24.58. BYU also picked up a win in the 100 hurdles. Senior Fatima Makakala won the event in 13.96, while Brooke Jensen finished second in 14.53 and senior Diane Stewart crossed in third in 14.60.

BYU Robison Invitational

In the final home meet of the 2012 season, the women’s track and field team recorded seven first-place finishes at the annual Robison Invitational.

Eaton continued her strong outdoor season with a victory in the high jump with a leap of 1.78m (5-10.00). Also picking up a win on the field was Anderson, who won the javelin with a throw of 49.36m (161-11.25). Multi-event athlete Elizabeth Wilson snagged a victory in the triple jump with a season best jump of 12.02m (39-5.25).

On the track, Makakala led the way in the sprints to win the 100 hurdles in 14.09. Jenessa Carlson won the 800 in 2:10.89 and was the lone Cougar to win a middle distance event. In the longer distances, Lisa Drury took first in the 3000 steeplechase in 10:50.00 and Katherine Swanson won the 5000 in 18:01.18.

Weber State Invitational

In the first midweek meet of the season, the women’s track and field team recorded top-three finishes in multiple events at the Weber State Twilight.

The Cougars dominated the sprint events by picking up wins in the 200, 400, 800 and 100 hurdles. Danielle Figgins led the way in the 200 by finishing first in 25.12. Bleazard competed in the 400 for the first time this outdoor season and won the event in 55.74.

BYU also managed to earn a first-place finish in the 4x100 relay. The team of Makakala, Kassie Jensen, Gowar and Aubrey Hale finished the race in 45.77.

Georgia Tech Invitational

For the second time, Mackie ran one of the top times in the nation in the 800. Mackie finished in 2:02.49, the second-fastest time run by a collegian during the 2012 outdoor season.

Javelin thrower Amber Huntington was one of two Cougars to win an event at Georgia Tech. Huntington recorded a season-best throw of 47.31m (155-02) to take the win. Anderson finished second to Huntington with a throw of 45.73m (150-00).

Guenther was the only other athlete to take home an event win. Guenther won the pole vault with a jump of 4.03m (13-2.50). Rachel Fisher also cleared the height but in more attempts to finish second.

NCAA Outdoor Championships

Mackie won her second National Championship trophy this year as she claimed the 800 title at the 2012 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

“It was such a great race,” Mackie said. “At the beginning of the race, I knew I had to go out fast because it was such a strong field. Once I got the lead, I didn’t want to give it up. With 200 meters left, I still had the lead, and just the thought of losing my last collegiate race gave me the extra motivation to finish strong.”

Mackie outpaced the competition with the top collegiate time of the season and the best of her career, 2:01.06.  Charlene Lipsey of LSU (2:01.40) and Chanelle Price of Tennessee (2:01.49) closely followed Mackie most of the race.

“It was a wonderful race and a dominant performance,” Shane said. “It was nice to finish off a season with an indoor and outdoor National Champion. I was really happy for her.”