Junior Angela Wagner outdistanced the field to win the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2008 MWC Outdoor Track & Field Championships. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
FORT WORTH -- While the BYU women's track team holds second place after three days of competition in the Mountain West Conference Outdoor Track & FIeld Championships, the BYU men's team is running away from the competition and appears to be poised to win its 11th straight outdoor track & field league title.
Through three days of competition, the men hold a 61-point advantage over second-place Colorado State. Air Force is in third with 51 points, followed by New Mexico in fourth place with 36 points. Wyoming is in fifth place with 33 points and TCU has 19 points to round out the field.
"We had a great day," BYU head men's coach Mark Robison said. "We've just had so many clutch performances. We've scored points in events that we've needed to, and we've advanced guys to tomorrow's finals. It's put us in a very good position to have a very good final day. Holy cow, I couldn't ask for more. The weather is perfect, the kids are healthy and they're competing. Except for a couple little hickups, today was almost perfect. It puts us in a really good position to 'bring it' again tomorrow."
In the women's competition, Colorado State took advantage of a big day in the field events to end the day in first place with 91 points. The BYU women are in second place with 51 points, followed by New Mexico with 37 points. TCU and Utah are tied for fourth with 25 points, while San Diego State is in sixth place with 20 points, Wyoming is in seventh place with 10 points, Air Force is in eighth place with 9 points and UNLV rounds out the competition with 5 points.
"Overall, I'm very pleased with our performance," head women's coach Craig Poole said. "Despite not having a couple of breaks go our way, we're still right in the thick of it. We feel like with the kids we have qualified for tomorrow, we'll be right there."
Day Three started at 7:30 a.m. with the women's 10,000 meters, followed by the men's 10K. In the women's competition, junior Katie Bowen finished second in a time of 36:01.83, followed in third by sophomore teammate Cecily Lemmon with a time of 36:07.96. Sophomore Jenna Jensen picked up seventh place in a time of 36:23.03. The Cougars picked up 16 points in the event to move in to second place in the team competition with 18 points, trailing Colorado State by just 10 points.
Running in his first 10,000 meter outdoor competition as a collegian, junior Stephen Shay finished second in the event with a time of 30:46.08. Shay's performance was good for eight team points, extending the Cougars' lead over the field.
In the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase, the Cougars continued their domination in the event. Junior Angela Wagner turned in a time of 10:23.83 to defeat Colorado State's Kristen Hemphill. BYU teammate Amy Layne finished third in a time of 10:40.27, while Angela Peterson finished sixth (10:49.94) and Tawny Bybee finished seventh (10:59.88). All totaled the Cougars picked up 21 points in the event to take a two-point lead over Colorado State in the team competition, 39-37.
Despite some mid-race excitement that involved both Richard Nelson and Curtis Carr falling, BYU took the four top spots in the event to pick up 29 points and extend its lead over Colorado State.
After finishing second in the event last year, senior Chandler Goodwin was crowned the steeplechase champion in 2008 after winning the event in a time of 8:57.48.
Senior Derek Taylor had a season-best 9:00.96 to finish second. After stumbling over a barrier and falling to the track, Nelson got up and continued the race, finishing third in a time of 9:04.32. Carr, only a freshman, hit the barrier with his trail leg, fell to the track and was stepped on by another runner; however, he, like Nelson, continued to race and finished fourth with a time of 9:04.74.
"That race was huge," Robison said. "We needed all of those points to help offset the points other teams will score on Saturday in the sprints. To have one guy go down is tough, but to have two go down during the same race is unbelievable. But, to see them get up and finish in third and fourth, that was amazing. Holy cow, I can't say enough about how incredible that was."
Senior Bryce Bergen won the high jump with a season-best mark of 6-11.75. Freshman Chase Dalton, who finished second in the decathlon, came back to finish sixth in the high jump with a height of 6-00.
Sophomore sensation Leif Arrhenius continued his dominating tear through the field events, winning the discus with a toss of 194-06. Junior Dustin Lawrensen finished fifth with a season-best distance of 174-08 and Daniel Lawson finished seventh with a season-best mark of 168-06.
Freshman Aaron Powell finished sixth in the long jump with a distance of 22-01.75.
In the pole vault, senior Matt Weirich cleared 17-02.75 to finish second, while teammate Bob Low finished fourth with a clearance of 16-10.75.
In the women's field events, Colorado State regained the lead in the team competition with a second- and fourth-place finish. Freshman Chelsi Peterson -- a day after finishing seventh in the heptathlon--finished 10th in the long jump with a mark of 18-10.75.
In the javelin competition, the Cougars picked up 12 points after Piret Kuresson finished third with a season-best distance of 152-04. Junior Sarah Lancaster finished fourth with fourth with a mark of 148-03 and freshman Rebecca Lee finished eighth with a mark of 134-01.
In the shot put, the Cougars were unable to pick up any additional team points with a ninth- and tenth-place finish. Freshman Krystle Forester threw 44 feet, while Megan Tyler had a season-best toss of 43-11.25. In the final event of the day, freshman Deezbaa finished ninth in the hammer throw with a mark of 157-11.
The final day of competition at the 2008 Mountain West Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships will get underway on Saturday, beginning with field events at 10 a.m. (CDT). Track events will begin at noon.