Chris Carter was named the MWC Freshman of the Year at the MWC Track and Field Championships. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- Competing at home, the Cougars swept the men's and women's Mountain West Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships while coach Mark Robison was named the men's Coach of the Year and Chris Carter was named the Freshman of the Year.
"The girls did a great job," women's coach Craig Poole said. "They came in as the underdog but stepped it up and laid it all on the line to take the title. Everyone came through and performed. Our hurdlers and distance runners really stepped up."
Carter scored a total of 14.5 points for the men, finishing first in the 400-meter hurdles, seventh in 110-meter hurdles and was the anchor leg for the men's 4x400-meter relay broke the conference record.
"Carter was huge in this meet," Robison said. "He runs really well. He still has a lot of potential."
The men were in a tight battle with Colorado State entering the final day of competition but pulled away early and finished with 248 points, 70 more than Colorado State. The women finished with 183 points, 32.50 ahead of Colorado State.
"We couldn't be more pleased," Robison said. "We have a chance to do well at nationals. The kid's really showed up. We talked all week about competing well at home and defending our turf and we did that."
The women scored big in the distance events, led by senior Chelsea Smith McKell. After setting a conference championship meet record in the 10,000 meters on Friday, McKell captured the distance championships double by winning the 5,000 meters on Saturday with a time of 17:01.99. Rena Chesser, who ran the 5,000 meters for the first time this season, also scored by placing fourth with a time of 17:24.91.
The Cougars placed three point scorers in the 1,500 and the 800-meter runs. Sophomores Michelle Lindsay (2:08.65) and Challis Firl (2:09.15) recorded personal records in the 800 to finish first and second while sophomore Lorette Hanson finished fifth with a time of 2:14.74. Firl's joined Lindsay as a regional qualifier.
BYU's three scorers in the 1,500 were freshman Amy Fowler and sophomores Laura Taylor and Carolyn Quebe. Fowler came in second with at 4:34.86, Taylor was four with a time of 4:36.86 and Quebe finished seventh at 4:39.44.
Several women scored points for the Cougars in the hurdles. Sophomore Nicole Nevitt placed fourth in the 400-meter hurdles with a season and career-best time of 60.15 while sophomore Sarah Lacey and freshman JennaBree Tollestrup placed fifth and eighth in the 100 meters. Both Lacey and Tollestrup set personal records with times of 14.08 and 14.42 in the prelims.
BYU also performed well in the women's pole vault, placing four athletes in the top eight. Julene Bailey-Kaufusi, a sophomore, surprised the field with a second-place finish by reaching a season-high 13 feet and 1.5 inches. Senior Mandy Lonsway was close behind finishing third with a vault of 12 feet 9.5 inches. Junior Kelly Furr and Sophomore Ashley McCallister placed fifth and seventh to record points for the Cougars by both jumping 12 feet 5.5 inches.
The javelin trio of junior Tiffany Arrhenius (156 feet 5 inches), sophomore Piret Kuresson (156 feet 3 inches) and freshman Sarah Butler (143 feet 11 inches) scored the women's only points in the throwing events, placing third, fifth and sixth.
In the triple jump, junior Kamila Rywelska added points for the women with a 40 foot 4 inch jump that gave her a third-place finish. Senior Liis Berendsen also scored for the Cougars, placing sixth with a jump of 37 feet 11.25 inches.
Lindsay, Firl, Hanson and Nevitt teamed to finish third in the 4x400 relay with a time of 3:46.61 to close the meet for the women.
On the men's side, the Cougars dominated the 1,500-meter run, claimed first, second, four and fifth places. Freshman Kyle Perry won with a time of 3:46.81 and senior Josh McAdams was close behind with a time of 3:47.29. Sophomores Tyrel Jensen and Dustin Bybee took fourth and fifth with times of 3:50.24 and 3:50.40.
Perry added an eighth-place finish in the 800 meters with a time of 1:54.45 and sophomore Jacob Gustafsson was fourth with a time of 1:49.83.
As they did with the 1,500 meters, the men dominated the 400-meter hurdles by taking four of the top-five spots, led by freshman Chris Carter who set a meet and personal record with a time of 49.67. Senior Benjamin Gardner was third with a time of 51:36 and Stig Robertson, a junior, recorded his first regional qualifying time of the season in the race with a time of 52:39. Junior Jacob Garlick was BYU's other point scorer, placing fifth with a time of 53:05.
Freshman Miles Batty came through for the men with a sixth-place finish in the 5,000 meters with a time of 15:13.93.
Junior Paul Smith led BYU in the sprints, placing second in the 200 meters (20.65), fifth in the 100 meters (10.68) and leading the Cougars to a second-place finish in the 4x100 meter relay. Smith teamed with Garlick, Gardner and senior Nate Rencher to record a time of 40.70.
Freshman Chris Reno made his mark in the javelin throw, setting an MWC Championship meet record with a throw that measured 222 feet 3 inches. Another freshman, Blaine Baker came in third with a throw of 212 feet 3 inches.
The Cougars came through again in the triple jump, with junior David Pendergrass taking second and Matt Anderson taking fourth. Pendergrass narrowly missed first, jumping 49 feet 10 inches, 1.75 inches behind first-place finisher Jonathan Jackson of TCU.
The men closed the meet with a record-setting win in the 4x400-meter relay. Rencher, Gardner, Smith and Carter teamed to record a time of 3:06.40, a MWC Championship meet record and the best 4x400 meter run in school history. Rencher, Gardner and Smith ran the first three legs and were even with TCU the whole way. Smith then handed off to Carter, who passed TCU's Louis Banda on the first turn and gradually extended his lead on the first straightaway to help BYU take the race.
The Cougars will now turn their focus to the NCAA West Regional Championships, which they will host in two weeks at Clarence F. Robison Track, May 26 and 27.