The BYU Women's Distance Medley Relay Team Set a BYU and MWC record at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational.
PROVO -- Despite being split across the states, the BYU men’s and women’s track and field teams represented the Cougars at the Mountain States Invitational in Pocatello and at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational in New York breaking four BYU school records.
The No. 19 women’s track team carried Friday’s momentum into Saturday’s events taking fourth at the prestigious meet. The Cougars, who continue to break school records at an alarming rate, finished ahead of several nationally ranked powerhouse track teams including Oregon, LSU, North Carolina, UCLA and USC.
“We had a great meet,” said BYU women’s track and field head coach Craig Poole. “There were nearly 200 teams and we finished right at the top. We had solid performances across the board. We are very happy with how our athletes competed.”
Friday’s record-breaking performance in the distance medley relay was only the beginning of what would be an historical weekend for the BYU women’s track team. The Cougars went on to break three more school records and another Mountain West Conference record on Saturday.
Sophomore All-American Katie Palmer set an early tone for the Cougars, breaking the BYU and MWC record in the 800-meter race. Palmer’s provisional qualifying time of 2:05.90 eclipses the previous school record of 2:05.93 set in 2004. The time currently ranks first in the MWC and fifth in the nation.
Freshman Natalie Stewart also made her stamp on the BYU record books. The Spanish Fork native broke BYU’s record in the 400-meter race twice at the New Balance Invitational. Her record performance on Friday was washed out by an even better performance on Saturday. Stewart’s NCAA provisional qualifying time of 54.13 is the best in the MWC.
Stewart would break another BYU record with Amy Menlove, Mindy Neeley and sister Nachelle Stewart in the 4x400-meter relay. The time of 3:41.20 was nearly a second faster than the previous record set in 1992.
Junior Cecily Lemmon also had an excellent meet placing first in the championship division of the 5,000-meter race. Lemmon ran to a MWC best time of 16:36.77, provisionally qualifying her for this year’s National Championships. Lemmon’s time is currently seventh best in the nation.
Junior All-American Angela Wagner continued the success with another NCAA provisional qualifying mark in the 3,000-meter event. Wagner also ran to a MWC best time of 9:26.91 placing her eighth on the BYU all-time records list.
Freshman standout Lacey Cramer earned a provisional qualifying mark in the mile with a time of 4:47.77. The time is second only to Wagner, who owns the top spot in the mile event in the MWC with a time of 4:43.12.
In the most difficult meet of the indoor season, the men’s team also gave BYU a good name at the New Balance Invitational, securing top placements among some of the best national competition at the New Balance Invitational
“I was very pleased with the meet,” said BYU men’s head track and field coach Mark Robison. “We had a lot of seasonal bests, improvements and better provisional qualifying marks. It’s a hard competition and I thought we did really well against some very difficult competition.”
All-American Keith Jensen competed in the 800-meter finishing with a time of 1:52.88 handing him the No. 1 spot in the MWC for this event. Jason Witt bringing in another top spot for the Cougars in the mile with a new personal best of 4:09.54.
Improving his provisional mark in the 3000-meter for the second week in a row, Brandon Hebbert placed fifth with a time of 8:03.15, tallying another first-place spot in the conference for the Cougars. Following only two seconds behind was senior Stephan Shay with a time of 8:05.50 for sixth. Shay’s performance ranks him third in the conference.
Continuing to impress and lead the MWC as the dynamic duo in first and second, All-American pole vault Cougars Bob Low and Whitney Neves tied clearing a height of 17 feet 4.5 inches.
Sophomore Aaron Powell placed first overall in the triple jump college competition with a distance of 49 feet 8.25 inches recording a new personal best and the first-place spot in the conference.
Concluding the field events, All-American junior Leif Arrhenius placed second overall in the weight throw setting a new personal record with a distance of 65 feet 10.50.
While most of the record breaking took place in New York, several Cougar athletes had similar success at the Mountain States Games in Pocatello, Idaho.
Kelli Ehardt’s NCAA provisional qualifying performance in the pole vault (12-11.75) ranks third on BYU’s all-time record list. The freshman’s mark is currently tied for first in the MWC.
Kyle Mills placed third in the triple jump clearing a distance of 44 feet 9.00 inches, while Chris Little brought in another third-place spot for BYU in the pole vault with a height of 16 feet 8.75 inches, tying him for third in the MWC.
Little’s new time gives him a new personal best and secures the top four spots in the MWC to the Cougars in the pole vault competition.
The BYU track and field teams will be on the road again this week to compete at the Washington Invitational and Air Force Open.