Sophomore Kamila Rywelska won the triple jump at the NCAA West Regional to help the Cougars earn a fourth-place team finish. In the men's competition, the Cougars finished third, 2.5 points behind USC for second place. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
NORTHRIDGE -- Led by Nathan Robison and Bryan Lindsay's one-two finish in the 1,500 meters, the BYU men's track & field team finished third at the NCAA West Regional on Saturday. The Cougars finished behind second-place USC by just 2.5 points. The BYU women, fueled by championship performance from Kamila Rywelska in the triple jump, finished fourth behind UCLA, USC and Stanford.
"I couldn't be happier," BYU men's coach Mark Robison said. "With just an adjustment here or there, we would have finished second real easily. The kids came here and really went after it. We have qualified several guys for nationals and now have a chance to make some noise [at nationals] with so many kids going. It's going to be fun."
Requiring a fifth-place finish or better in most events in order to advance to the NCAA National Outdoor Championships in June, the Cougars qualified a total of 17 athletes this weekend, including 10 men and seven women. The Cougars will also send athletes to the national championships in the decathlon, heptathlon and 10,000 meters. Those events were not contested at the regional competition. Other athletes may be added to the list of competitors based upon provisional qualifying marks. An official list of competitors will be announced Tuesday.
"We have qualified several guys for nationals and now have a chance to make some noise with so many kids going," Robison added. "There were a couple guys we really didn't think would make it, but they really poured it on out there today in order to qualify. I'm so happy for them. It's going to be fun to see what happens at nationals."
Sitting on the pole position in the 1,500 meters, junior Nathan Robison took the early lead and waited for someone to jump up and take the lead from him. After 300 meters, Utah's Nephi Taylor took the lead for a brief stint. Two hundred meters later, Robison regained the lead and continued to set the pace. Meanwhile, junior Bryan Lindsay was content to sit near the back of the congested pack.
"I'm forever chasing Nate," Lindsay said. "This is two meets in a row where we have gone one, two. I wanted to run a smart race. Since the pack was so tight, and there wasn't that big of a distance between first and the end of the pack, I decided to hang back and not get in trouble. I didn't want to get boxed in."
With Robison in the lead and Lindsay 10 meters back, sitting in ninth place, the Orem native shifted gears.
"My speed has never been better. When you start to make that charge, you just wonder what you have left in the gas tank," Lindsay said. "Sometimes you're lucky, sometimes you're not. My pre-race plan was, with a lap to go, be in a position to make a move. I knew I had enough left with 300 meters to go and I kept going."
Lindsay turned in a 53.1 second final 400 meters, but it was not enough to catch Robison who was clocked at 53.9 over his final 400 meters.
"More than anything, I'm glad it's over, and I'm glad it turned out well," Nathan said. "I spent the first half of the race waiting for someone to take the lead, then I spent the last half of the race trying not to get caught. Going in to the last lap, I thought to myself that I had done so much work in this race to lose it in the end. It was just a fun race.
"Bryan has such a good kick at the end. I knew I didn't want to be anywhere near him at the end or I wouldn't have a chance. I tried to put in a surge after 800 meters to put as much distance between myself and them."
Robison managed to hold Lindsay off to win the event in a time of 3:44.56. Lindsay was clocked at 3:52.21.
In the women's competition, sophomore Kamila Rywelska claimed the only individual title for the women, winning the triple jump with a distance of 42-08.
After qualifying for nationals in the long jump on Friday, freshman Amy Menlove turned in a fifth-place performance in the 100-meter hurdles to qualify for the national championships with a time of 13.60.
Junior high jumper Lindsey Metcalf also earned a trip to the national championships--her third--with a clearance of 5-10.50 in the event. Metcalf finished fifth in the event behind four others who all cleared the six-foot mark.
In the 3,000-meter steeplechase, the Cougars represented the 2002 and 2003 NCAA National Outdoor champions in the event. Andersen, the 2003 national champion finished second in a personal-best 9:44.68. Michaela Mannova, the 2002 national champion finished third with a time of 9:54.18. Both Andersen and Mannova qualified for the national championships next month in Austin, Texas.
In the pole vault, sophomore Robison Pratt finished tied for second with a mark of 17-07. With his performance, Pratt will represent BYU in his second straight NCAA National Championship meet.
The men picked up 10 more team points and moved in to fifth place overall after turning in third- and fifth-place performances in the 400-meter hurdles. Senior Greg Flint finished third with a time of 50.59, while junior Kansas Whitear clocked a lifetime best of 51.31 to finish in the fifth and final qualifying spot in the event.
Junior Lars Kjerengtroen gave new meaning to the term "a split second." In the 800 meters, Kjerengtroen and Washington's Todd Arnold were caught in a photo finish, battling for the fifth and final qualifying spot. After the public address announcer had claimed Arnold the fifth-place winner, the judges went back to review the electronic image of the finish. After further review, meet officials determined Kjerengtroen had edged Arnold by one-thousandth (.0001) of a second. As a result, Kjerengtroen earned the fifth and final qualifying spot and will represent the Cougars at the national championships next month.
"When they said it had to go to the thousandth of a second, I figured we had lost," Robison said. "He ran a great, tactical race. That was amazing. I think Lars has to be living right in order to win by a thousandth of a second."
Freshman Niklas Arrhenius, who sustained a broken bone in his throwing wrist just over a week ago, finished second in the discus with a toss of 184-05. His older brother Dan finished fourth with a season-best mark of 144-10.
"I'm so happy for Dan," Robison said. "He's worked his tail off. As a senior, I'm so happy that he gets to go to nationals and compete with his brother. Then there's Niklas. After breaking his wrist, he could have packed it in, but he showed some incredible toughness out there today. I know he was hurting, but he wanted to keep going. He had a heck of a day."
Rodrigo Mendes also picked up valuable team points and earned a trip to nationals with a second-place performance in the triple jump. Mendes, a junior from Presidente Prudente, Brazil, tallied a distance of 53-01.75.
Saturday's results marked the highest team finish for both the men's and women's teams since the NCAA began regional competition in 2003.