Kyle Perry finishes the final leg of the distance-medley relay at 2007 MWC Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, N.M. BYU won both the men's and women's DMR events.
Cougars Set New MWC Indoor Track & Field Records
ALBUQUERQUE -- The BYU men's and women's track teams got off to a blistering start on the first day of competition at the MWC Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, N.M., setting three new meet and track records and taking the lead in both the men's and women's competition.
Josh Rohatinsky, Whitney McDonald and the Women's distance-medley relay set both track and meet records, while David Pendergrass tied the meet high jump record, winning the event for the third straight year.
"We had some great qualifying performances, and the finals were outstanding," BYU women's head coach Craig Poole said. "Our team came to compete today. There were many personal, season and even some meet records that were broken today. It's been a great day of competition."
Rohatinsky spent most of the season getting healthy and preparing to make a run at the MWC Indoor Championship title in the 5000 meters after winning the NCAA cross country title. Early in the race, Josh kept a strong pace staying with last year's second-place winner from New Mexico. But with 10 laps to go, Rohatinsky took off to take sole possession of the lead and cruised to lap all other competitors, except for the second- and third-place finishers. Rohatinsky set a new MWC Indoor Championship meet record with a time of 14:26.92. With the altitude adjustment, he ran a time of 14:04.43, which is good enough for a national provisional qualifying mark.
"It felt pretty good," said Rohatinsky. "It didn't feel as good as I wanted, but it feels good to get a race under my belt. I'm always a little nervous when I don't race for a few months, but it feels good."
In the women's 5000 meters, Whitney McDonald ran a tough race and had a result similar to Rohatinsky. She made her move with 12 laps to go and never looked back, passing everyone in the field except teammate Amber Duffin who finished third. McDonald's time of 16:35.81 is a new MWC Indoor Championship record and a track record. Duffin finished third, Kassi Andersen finished fifth and Jenna Jensen finished seventh.
"I went out just like coach told me," said Duffin. "I just focused on the pace and tried to catch whoever was in front of me. I didn't think I was going to break the record. I am really excited I won, and that I'm going to the championships.
Pendergrass cleared 7-feet-1 in the high jump to tie a meet record and win his third MWC Indoor Championship. He lost to Ammon Dahl his freshman year to take second place. BYU junior Bryce Bergen took second and Ammon Dahl took third in the high jump.
Justin Palmer got things started for the men's team by scoring the first points in the heptathlon. He finished with 5,188 points. Teammates Noah Garfield and Kevin Keys scored 5,018 points and 4,637, respectively. Garfield set new personal records in the 60 meters, long jump, shot put and the high jump. Keys had a season best throw in the shot put.
JennaBree Brown scored the first points for the women's team. She finished seventh in the pentathlon with a total of 3,275.
The women's mile preliminaries turned out to be a sprint to the finish. All seven athletes in the first heat were very close and the lead changed three different times in the final lap. Heidi Magill road a burst of speed to finish first and Laura Taylor pulled into third to qualify for the finals. In the second heat, Julie Meads ran a strong last lap to send her to the final round as well.
Sophomore Chris Carter advanced in both of his events as did Nate Rencher. Carter and Rencher advanced to the finals in the 60-meter hurdles, along with Jacob Garlick and Lance Walker. Carter and Rencher finished in the top-nine of the 400-meter hurdles to advance to the finals.
Jennifer Grossarth ran a personal best in the 400-meter preliminaries. She ran a 54.68 to advance to the finals. She was behind the leader with 200 meters to go when she made her move and sprinted to first place in her heat with the second best time overall. Nicole Nevitt finished third in her heat and will also compete in the finals.
"I ran 54 seconds a couple weeks ago, but something happened to the time," said Grossarth after her 400 meters. "So, I had confidence I could do it again."
Her confidence carried over to the 200 where she broke her season-best with a time of 24.31. Mindy Neeley also qualified for the 200 with a season-best time of 24.33. Neeley also placed second in the long jump with a distance of 20-feet-3.5 inches.
The men's distance-medley relay proved to be a fitting finish for a day of exciting competition. BYU junior Tyrel Jensen was in second place for most of the first leg, but with 300 meters to go, he pulled ahead of Air Force. The Cougars retained the lead with Nate Page running the 400 and Dustin Bybee running the 800-meter legs. Wyoming and Air Force were always close, and with the last leg of the relay, Kyle Perry gave up the lead in the 1600 meters, only to storm back with 200 meters left to win the DMR for the second time in two years.
The women followed suit with a MWC meet record in the DMR. Heidi Magill left no doubt she had a strong 1200 meters. Sandra Mazan built the lead and passed TCU as she handed off to Carlee Clark, the top-ranked, 800-meter runner in the conference. Amy Fowler finished the race 300 meters ahead of second place. The DMR has been a tradition of winning for BYU. The BYU women have won every year since 2003.
At the end of the day, both the BYU men's and women's teams held the lead in the team competition with the men recording 58 points and the women racking up 68.5 points.