Kamila Rywelska will be a key competitor in the 2006 season. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
The BYU women's track and field athletes are on their marks and ready to make an impact on the 2006 season. A team of fresh talent and seasoned veterans, the women are powerful and ready to live up to the expectations that have been set for them. The team finished the 2005 season with a first-place finish in indoor and outdoor standings at the conference level and sixth and 10th-place finishes in the national competitions. The Cougars are looking for great things to happen in the coming year with five returning All-Americans and 25 new recruits.
"We have some very talented individuals on our team," Coach Craig Poole said. "They are moving in the right direction to where we want them to be and our expectations are high."
The members of the distance squad have established themselves in cross country and show potential for performing solidly in the indoor and outdoor track seasons as well. The veterans provide a continued punch that was felt last year and the new women have shown their ability to do well for the Cougars in the coming year.
There are several able returned missionaries, redshirts and returning athletes who will make an impact on this relatively young team. All-Americans Rena Chesser, Heidi Magill, Breanne Sandberg and Chelsea McKell will be the leadership of the team and offer great strength in their events. Many other women will be making their name know as well. Carlee Clark, Amber Harper, Ann Heiner, Sarah Ingebretsen, Kristen Ogden and Michelle Lindsay all return for another year of excellence in the distance events. Newly-arrived athletes Amy Fowler and Jocelyn Gardner are high-quality competitors and will prove their abilities throughout the season.
BYU has always been a strong force in the combined events and this year will be no exception. There are many youngsters with promise that will show their abilities on the squad. Although the season is unpredictable, several athletes have proven their potential and should be great assets to the team. Among them is All-American Liis Berendsen, who Poole said is really coming into her own and should have a successful year. Julie Andersen King and Sarah Lacey will return as key contributors in 2006. Also returning is Heidi Huber Summers after taking a year off for injury. Newcomer JennaBree Tollestrup should add much to the event as well.
The hurdlers are a young, but talented group of women who are improving and will show more promise throughout the season. Although heptathlon star and All-American Amy Menlove will be redshirting due to injury, several new and returning athletes are poised to make an impact for this year's team and in the years to come. New athletes include top recruit JennaBree Tollestrup and redshirt freshmen Kathryn Sevy and Michelle Partridge.
The sprinters are capable and many will have the opportunity to make a strong impact on the season. The incoming freshmen have shown notable skills that will contribute and add a new dimension to the program. Mindy Neeley, a freshman from Santa Barbara, Calif. was nationally ranked out of high school in both the 400 meters and long jump events. Freshman Shirfa Arnold should also do well for the team. Experienced women, such as sophomore Jessica Weirich, will offer much to the team in terms of depth and knowledge.
Several returning throwers including javelin and shot put thrower Tiffany Arrhenius and shot put, discus and hammer thrower Leli Fotu, are beginning to show promise in their events and will have a positive affect throughout the season. Other veteran athletes proved strong in competition in 2005 and continue to improve. Newcomers Sarah Butler and Piret Kuresson should make the javelin throw a strong event for BYU.
The jump teams will add needed depth to the program as a whole. There are several returning athletes who have done well in the past and are expected to improve throughout the season. Incoming freshmen such as Mallory Minster, Mindy Neeley and JennaBree Tollestrup excelled on a high school level and have shown great potential. Veteran athletes Kamila Rywelska and Liis Berendsen will maintain their influence in the events.
The pole vaulters are solid and developing depth which will assist them in competition this year. Key contributor Mandy Kelly Lonsway is recovering from injury and will be ready to compete in time for outdoor competition. Top vaulter from last year and regional qualifier Julene Bailey-Kaufusi is back and should be stronger than ever. Transfer student Kelly Nesbit-Furr could also have immediate impact.