PROVO -- The BYU women's track team fielded a full squad at the Minnesota Invitational, Saturday, and the result was a sound victory over a nine-team field. With first-place team finishes in eight events, and two meet records, the Cougars easily won the meet with a total of 156 points, ahead of host Minnesota which finished with 139. Texas-Arlington (77 points), Iowa (39.5) and Marquette (37) rounded out the top five.
The Minnesota meet was the first chance for BYU to showcase its talented distance squad. Senior Melanie Steere won the 800-meters in 2:10.41, and teammate Sharolyn Shields-Thayer won the mile run with an NCAA provisional-qualifying time of 4:48.14. The Cougar distance runners continued their domination in the 3,000-meter and 5,000-meter events. Running unattached, Jenny Crain took first place in both events. But Courtney Meldrum recorded another provisional mark for BYU with a 9:37.55 in the 3,000 and Elizabeth Jackson (16:29.27) and Tara Northcutt (16:35.62) finished second and third in the 5,000, both recording provisional marks as well. The BYU distance medley relay team set a meet record with a time of 11:49.96. Senior Kirsten Bolm set another meet record with an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 8.34 in the preliminary rounds of the 60-meter hurdles. Bolm went on to win the event with an 8.47 in the final, and she won the long jump with leap of 19'09.50" (6.03m). Analee Carter cleared 5'07.00" in the high jump to give BYU its eighth event win in the collegiate division.
Despite competing without the help of its entire distance squad, the BYU men's track team nearly captured a victory at the Air Force Invitational in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Colorado State Rams edged out the Cougars 106-105 for the win. Fresno State finished third with 90 points, followed by Air Force (86) and Colorado (73).
"It was a very good meet for us," said BYU coach Mark Robison. "I'm delighted with the way the guys ran today, and we feel good about our overall team performance. This puts us in pretty good shape with the conference meet coming up in about a month."
The Air Force Invitational included five of the six men's teams that will be competing in the Mountain West Conference Championships at the end of February.
On Friday, in the first day of competition, BYU's Jim Roberts recorded a second-place finish with a provisional throw of 62'06.75" (19.07m) in the men's weight throw. Roberts continued to impress on Saturday when he won the shot put with a heave of 65'04.25" (19.92m). Sprinter Kenneth Andam recorded a provisional mark on his way to a third-place finish in the 60-meters (6.66), and he also ran a provisional time of 21.12 to finish second in the 200-meters. BYU also got a second-place finish from Greg Flint in the 400-meters (47.52), while Slade Combs (8.06) and Russ Elggren (8.07) finished third and fourth, respectively, in the 60-meter hurdles. Pole vaulter Jeremy Kemp was first among collegians, and second overall, with a vault of 16'04.75" (5.00m). The Cougars finished the day with first-place finish in the mile relay, in a time of 3:15.96.
In other action over the weekend, BYU teams recorded wins in four events at the Wilson Motor Open in Logan, Utah. Melody Sheppard won the women's 3,000-meters in 10:28.80, just ahead of teammate Marie Hodson (10:30.60). The men's team took first in three events at the Open. Gabe Casdorph won the long jump with a leap of 6.74m. BYU went 1-2-3 in the 800-meters, with senior Nathan Harrison leading the way in 1:55.37, followed by Lewis Jones (1:55.95), and Dula Parkinson (1:56.05). The Cougars also took the top two places in the 3,000-meters, as Mike Thatcher won the race with a time of 8:49.40, and Gary Wilson finished a close second in 8:50.90.
The next stop for the Cougars will be the Mountain States Invitational in Pocatello, Idaho on Friday, February 2.
For complete results of the Air Force Invitational, go to www.airforcesports.com/trk/mtrk