PROVO, Utah (May 27) - The Cougars will be well-represented in women's action at the NCAA Track and Field Championships in Durham, N.C. next week. In an announcement released Thursday night by the NCAA, twelve Cougars were among the official qualifiers for the championship meet. BYU's women finished in sixth place at the NCAA indoor meet in March.
Kirsten Bolm earned her first qualifying mark early in the season, when she leaped a school record-tying 21'-6" in the long jump at the Texas Relays, then claimed her second as she raced to a personal-best time of 13.02 in the 100-meter hurdles in last weekend's MWC Championship. Her distance in the long jump ranks her seventh nationally heading into the meet, and her hurdles performance has her 11th in that event.
Also qualifying in multiple events are senior Marty Hernandez and sophomore Tara Northcutt, both of whom are set to compete in the 5,000- and 10,000 meters. Hernandez moved into the No. 5 spot in the 5,000 meter rankings after running a BYU outdoor school record 15:59.86 at the Stanford Invitational May 5. She's ranked No. 4 in the 10,000 meters for her 33:21.52 performance at the Apr. 15 Mt. SAC Relays, just ahead of Northcutt's No. 6-ranked time of 33:40.06. Northcutt's other qualifying mark came at the Mar. 25 Stanford Invitational, where she ran a 16:15.67 to put her in 14th heading into nationals.
BYU's highest-ranked athlete is Susan Taylor, qualifying in the 1,500 meters with the second-best qualifying mark (4:16.58), a time which is also fourth-best in school history. Taylor was recently named to the district Academic All-American first team, and was the 1,500 meter champion at the MWC meet. Melanie Steere earned her NCAA spot by running the second-fastest 800 meters in school history, a 2:05.40 performance at the May 12 Cardinal Qualifier. Steere's time has her ranked No. 7 nationally.
In their first meet of the season, Laura Heiner and Sharolyn Shields wasted no time in picking up qualifying marks in the 3,000 meters. After the early success, in which fifth-ranked Shields ran a 9:17.71 and seventh-ranked Heiner followed in 9:19.37, the pair have been able to rest in preparation for the NCAA meet. Rounding out the distance squad is Laurel Hildebrandt, who took nearly a minute off her 10,000-meter time to claim the last qualifying spot in the event, coming in at No. 20 with a time of 34:37.69.
The 2000 MWC 400-meter hurdles champion and runner-up, Holly Gibbons and Milena Alver, ran the second- and third-fastest times in school history to qualify for the event in the NCAAs. Gibbons is ranked No. 11 with an altitude-adjusted 57.76, while Alver comes in at No. 13 with an adjusted 57.93.
After breaking the school pole vault record three times in as many weeks, Becky Jackson will head into NCAA competition with a No. 14 ranking and a BYU best 13'-0.25" mark. Her performance has also qualified her for the U.S. Olympic Trials in July. Also in the field events is Jeana Bingham, who cleared six feet at the BYU Tri-Meet May 6 in Provo. This will be the first-ever NCAA appearance for the ninth-ranked Bingham.
NCAA competition begins May 31 in Durham, N.C., and runs through June 3.