Men Capture 21st League Title; Women's 21-year Reign Ends

The BYU men's track & field team captured its 21st all-time outdoor league championship, outdistancing Colorado State for the MWC team title. The Cougars have won six straight outdoor league championships, including all five MWC titles. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

ALBUQUERQUE -- The BYU men's track & field team recorded its 21st outdoor league championship, including its fifth straight Mountain West Conference title, outdistancing second-place finisher Colorado State, 270-230, at the 2003 MWC Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Albuquerque. In women's action, BYU's 21-year dominance finally came to an end, falling to San Diego State by 11 points, 217-206.

"We actually did better than we expected we would," head women's coach Craig Poole said. "The problem is, so did San Diego State. Sure we left four or five girls at home who are battling injuries, who would have made a difference, but I don't want to make excuses. San Diego State did an excellent job and ran their girls hard."

Entering the final event, the triple jump, both BYU and San Diego State were tied for the overall lead with 197 points. Despite a lifetime best by BYU walk-on freshman Lindsey Sommer, who finished second with a distance of 39-11.50, the Aztecs finished first, third and fifth to edge the Cougars by just 11 points in the final team standings.

Colorado State finished in a distant third with 101 points, followed by Wyoming in fourth with 78 points, Utah in fifth with 73.5 points, Air Force in sixth with 58 points, host New Mexico in seventh with 49.5 points, and UNLV in eighth place with 36 total points.

"They [SDSU] had girls doubled, tripled and quadrupled in several events, especially in the power events," Poole added. With us being short on athletes, and not being able to compete in the power events, we just couldn't compete against their numbers in the sprints and jumps. They took the strategy right out of our playbook. We've been doing the same thing for years, and now someone has finally been able to duplicate our strategy. When you have the athletes to do it, it works, but in our case this season, it didn't work out for us.

"Overall, it could have been worse. But, our team hung in there and competed in every event and did a fabulous job. I couldn't be more proud of our overall team effort. You know, 21 years is a long time. I suppose when you look at it, it's about time someone else was able to win it."

On the men's side, the Cougars battled Colorado State all day long. The Rams managed to pull within 20 points near the end of the competition, but a dominating performance in the 5,000 meters, and another victory in the 4x400-meter relay, the Cougars pulled ahead and recorded the 40-point victory.

"That was a tremendous day," head men's coach Mark Robison said. "Jeepers creepers, we couldn't ask for anything more from our guys. We competed hard in every event throughout the entire meet, and it paid off today. We are just so pleased. It was amazing."

BYU finished the meet with 270 points to win its sixth straight league outdoor title, and its fifth straight MWC championships. Colorado State garnered 240 points, followed distantly by Air Force with 129 points. Host New Mexico finished with 91 points for a fourth-place finish, while Wyoming picked up fifth place with 76 points. Utah, who does not field an official men's team, picked up seven points to finish sixth overall.

Robison, now in his third season as the head coach for the Cougars, was named the MWC Coach of the Year, along with Robison Pratt, who was named the Freshman of the Year after winning the pole vault title on Friday.

"Every team in this league is so different, yet so competitive in different ways," Robison added. "Colorado State is one tough competitor. They laid it all out on the line. At the same time, our guys just wouldn't be denied. CSU really wanted it, but in the end, we wanted it a little more. We had some incredible performances today. It was an incredible team effort."

MEN'S RECAP

In one of the most outstanding performances of the entire meet, Kip Kangogo, a sophomore from Kenya recorded victories in both the 1,500 and 5,000 meters. Kangogo turned in a 3:47.97 in the 1,500 to lead a one-two-four finish for the Cougars. Just a couple hours later, Kangogo notched another victory in the 5,000 meters, winning in a track record 14:33.64. Kangogo stayed tucked in behind New Mexico's Matt Gonzales for 1,100 meters, then with 400 meters remaining, turned on the afterburners to blow by Gonzales. Gonzales had defeated Kangogo by seven seconds at the Mt. Sac Relays earlier in the season. Kangogo ran the final 200 meters in an amazing 26 seconds to beat Gonzales by more than three seconds.

"Kip was awesome," Robison said. "That is one tough double to pull off. He is incredible. He has such an amazing kick at the end. You'd have to be a sprinter to catch him. If you are neck-n-neck on the final lap, you know Kip has the ability to leave you behind if you don't have a good kick. Gonzales played right in to Kip's hands the whole race. You're just not going to be able to out run him when it comes to the final kick."

In another impressive performance, junior Greg Flint set a new conference record, breaking the 50-second barrier in the 400-meter hurdles. In one of the fastest times in the nation this season, Flint set a personal best with a time of 49.18 to win the event.

"Anytime you can go sub-50 in the 400-meter hurdles, you're flat out smoking," Robison said. "Greg was amazing.

Freshman Nate Soleberg, benefited from a fast start to hold off the field in the 100 meters, winning the sprint title with a personal best 10.34. Soleberg is a two-sport athlete, competing in both track and football for the Cougars. Paul Smith finished fifth in the 100 meters with a personal best 10.48. Another multi-sport athlete, Cody Fonnesbeck, took sixth in a time of 10.48.

Smith and Fonnesbeck also competed in the 200 meters, finishing third and sixth, respectively. Smith also had a personal best in the 200, turning in a 21.19, while Fonnesbeck had to dodge the official starter at the turn, but still managed a 21.55 in the event.

"All three of those guys had a fabulous day," Robison said. "Soleberg was flat out movin', and Smith; wow, he's only a freshman. He's going to be terrific."

In the 400 meters, the Cougars had a 1-2-3 finish, led by senior Matt Nielsen. Entering the final 100 meters, Nielsen found himself in third place behind teammates David Chesser and Matthew Rowe. Nielsen shifted gears and edged both teammates at the finish line to win the championship in a time of 47.07. Chesser finished second with a time of 47.17, while Rowe finished third in a time of 47.28.

In the 800 meters, CSU's Brian Kelley broke up the BYU sweep, however the Cougars managed a 1-3-4 finish in the event to pick up 21 crucial team points. Simkins won the race in a time of 1:49.88, followed by Lars Kjerengtroen in third with a time of 1:51.06 and Scott Adams in fourth with a time of 1:51.28.

Russell Elggren recorded a time of 14.21 in the 110-meter hurdles to take third place, and doubled-up in the 400-meter hurdles to take fifth place with a time of 51.92. The event, however, belonged to Flint who registered an all-time Mountain West Conference record 49.18 in the 400-meter hurdles. Flint's time was not only a personal best, but was one of the top times in the nation.

In the 4x100-meter relay, BYU earned a regional qualifying mark with a winning time of 40.10. And, in the 4x400-meter relay, the Cougars set a MWC meet record with a time of 3:09.21.

In the field events, Devin Scoresby, who finished second in the decathlon, reeled in a third-place finish in the high jump at a height of 2.02 meters. Mark Barry and Curtis Pugsley tied for seventh. Aron Szmuda, who won the triple-jump title on Friday, finished second with a mark of 15.79 meters. Matthew Anderson finished fifth with a jump of 14.56 meters. Sophomore Matt Hickman took third-place honors in the javelin, registering a toss of 60.30 meters. Suffering from a sore shoulder, Curtis Pugsley finished seventh with a mark of 45.10 meters.

WOMEN'S RECAP

In one of the most outstanding individual performances of the weekend, senior Jamie Cottle won both the 800 and 1,500 meters--one of the toughest doubles in track competition to successfully accomplish. Cottle won the 1,500 meters for the second straight year, recording a time of 4:34.93. Cottle's performance paced a 1-2-4 performance in the event. Sophomore Katie Andersen finished second in the event with a time of 4:34.99, followed by Anika Smith, who turned in a lifetime best 4:36.89 in the 1,500 meters to finish fourth.

In the 800 meters, the Cougars again finished 1-2-4, led by Cottle (2:07.70) and Andersen (2:08.12). Junior Aneta Lemiesz finished fourth in a time of 2:08.97. Lemiesz, a native of Poland, also competed in the 400 meters, completing yet another one of tracks toughest combination of events.

Lemiesz picked up five points for the Cougars in the 400 meters with a time of 54.92. Freshman Mary Bennion finished seventh in a time of 57.18.

In the 5,000 meters, the Cougars needed a 1-2 finish in order to stay within reach of San Diego State for the team title. Senior Kristen Ogden took first-place honors with a 17:57.70, followed by Laura Turner, who finished second with a time of 17:59.93.

Walk-on freshman Lindsey Sommer turned in a lifetime best, 39-11.50 to take second in the triple jump, however the Aztecs finished first, third and fifth to take the overall team title.

Sophomore Jennifer Rockwell competed in the 100, 200, 400-meter hurdles, as well as the 4x400-meter relay. Rockwell finished sixth in the 100 with a time of 11.98, followed by an eighth-place finish in the 200 meters. Rockwell battled SDSU's Ryan Peters down to the finish line, and was credited with a third-place finish after edging Peters at the tape in a time of 59.76.

Shortly after competing in the 4x100-meter relay, and suffering from a locked hip joint, senior Mirian Fisher turned in a lifetime best 13.92 in the 100-meter hurdles after team trainer Kevin Morris successfully treated Fisher in time to compete in the event.

In the field events, Lindsey Metcalf won the high jump title after clearing 1.75 meters. In the shot put, junior Chelsea Weenig improved on her personal best with a mark of 13.90 meters to finish second. Weenig also finished fifth in the hammer throw with a distance of 53.05 meters. Junior Missy Wood claimed the javelin title with a distance of 48.59 meters.