The BYU men's track & field team won the 2008 MWC Outdoor Championship, claiming its 11th straight outdoor league title. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
FORT WORTH -- After three solid days of competition, the BYU men's team withstood an expected charge on the final day by host TCU to win the 2008 Mountain West Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championship. The victory marks a BYU record 11th straight league title, including nine straight MWC championships.
"Each year is a little different -- it never gets old," BYU head men's coach Mark Robison said. "There are always new challenges to overcome, and there's always something different, but it's always nice to win the conference championship. We have a great group of young men. I'm really proud of them for coming out here and competing."
All totaled the BYU men won five individual events, equalling last year's total. Sophomore Leif Arrhenius was named the meet's top athlete, winning both the shot put and discus and finishing second in the hammer throw. All totaled, Arrhenius picked up 28 of the Cougars' 210 points. TCU finished second with 192 points, Air Force was third with 135 points, Colorado State finished fourth with 126 points, New Mexico was fifth with 87 points and Wyoming finished sixth with 53 points.
Robison, now in his eighth year as the head men's coach at BYU, has never lost a Mountain West Conference Championship meet. He was named the MWC Men's Coach of the Year.
The BYU women also withstood a surge from both San Diego State and TCU on the final day of competition to take second place behind a senior-laden squad from Colorado State. The Cougars finished just 46 points behind the Rams and 15 points ahead of third-place San Diego State. TCU finished fourth in the women's competition with 122 points, followed by New Mexico in fifth with 78 points. Utah finished sixth with 58 points, Wyoming came in seventh with 46 points, UNLV was eighth with 35 points and Air Force finished ninth with 26 points.
"We're really pleased with our performance," head women's coach Craig Poole said. "Coming in to the meet we knew we would have to perform well in order to take second or third. In some cases, I think we exceeded those expectations. We had a lot of freshman perform very well for us throughout the meet, and I think you can say our future looks bright."
The BYU women finished with three individual champions, including freshman Katie Palmer in the 800 meters, junior Angela Wagner in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and senior Carlee Platt in the 1,500 meters.
Platt captured the 1,500-meter title by crossing the finish line in 4:25.84. Her time was an NCAA regional-qualifying mark. BYU swept the first two spots as Wagner earned runner-up honors with a regional-qualifying time of 4:25.46. This was the first time BYU has won the 1,500 since 2005.
BYU freshmen Katie Palmer and Stacey Slight swept the top two spots in the women's 800-meter run with respective times of 2:06.70 and 2:07.96. The victory marked the sixth-consecutive season and eighth time in the last nine years that a Cougar claimed the event title.
BYU sophomore Leif Arrhenius won the Cougars' fifth MWC men's shot put title with a season-best mark of 57-04.75 (17.49m). Arrhenius's brother, former BYU thrower Niklas Arrhenius, won Conference titles in both 2004 and 2005.
Sophomore Cecily Lemmon finished fourth in the 5,000 meters, completing the event in a regional qualifying time of 16:48.03. Junior Katie Bowen finished sixth in a time of 16:43.07, while sophomore Jenna Jensen finished ninth in a time of 16:46.96.
Junior Ashley Payne cleared 5-07.00 to finish in a tie for second place with Colorado State's Niomi Ridge. Senior Kathryn Beck finished in a tie for eighth place, clearing 5-03.00.
Freshman Mindy Robins finished eighth in the 100-meter hurdles, completing the event in a time of 14.18.
The Cougars picked up 10 team points in the 110-meter hurdles with sophomore Lance Walker finishing fifth in a time of 14.78, sophomore Bryan Payne finishing sixth in a time of 14.82, sophomore Nate Page finishing seventh in a time of 14.93 and freshman Jordan Calderwood finishing eighth in a time of 15.01.
Junior Sandra Mazan finished fourth in the 400-meter hurdles in a reqional qualifying time of 60.54. Senior Nicole Rasmussen finished in fifth, also qualifying for the NCAA regionals with a time of 60.60.
Senior Dustin Bybee finished fourth in the 5,000 meters in a time of 14:40.60.
Junior Keith Jensen was one of three BYU athletes to compete in the finals of the 800 meters. Jensen finished third in a regional qualifying time of 1:49.78. Sophomore Drew Foster finished fifth in a time of 1:50.92 and sophomore James Heiner finished sixth in a time of 1:51.84.
Senior Ashley McCallister cleared a season-best 13-02.25 to finish second in the women's pole vault.
After finishing second in the decathlon, freshman Chase Dalton came back to compete in the javelin competition, finishing third with a distance of 205-06.00.
Sophomore Bryan Payne turned in a regional qualifying and season-best time of 52.12 to finish second in the 400-meter hurdles. Teammate Lance Walker finished seventh in a time of 53.00, and fellow sophomore Nate Pate recorded a 53.98 in the event to finish in eighth place.
Freshman Deezbaa Whaley finished eighth in the discus with a toss of 143-05. Teammate Megan Tyler finished ninth with a distance of 143-04.
Senior Mary Bennion finished her collegiate career with a solid performance in the 400 meters. Bennion finished seventh in a time of 55.59.
Overall, it is the 26th outdoor league title for the BYU men, dating back to 1968. The streak of 11 straight is the longest streak since winning nine straight league championships from 1985 to 1983.