(Photo by Jonathan Hardy/BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah – The BYU women’s track and field team heads to New York this weekend to compete in the annual New Balance Invitational, one of the most prestigious indoor meets of the year.
“The meet director at Armory has put years of effort into turning this meet into a big deal,” head coach Patrick Shane said. “It is the granddaddy of all indoor meets. It consistently brings together the best teams from across the nation.”
BYU will compete against athletes from more than 100 schools, including eight of the nation's top 10 teams: Clemson, Kansas, Oregon, Arkansas, LSU, Texas A&M, Florida and Iowa State.
The New Balance Invitational is a scored meet, which is not typical of most indoor invitationals. In years past the women’s team finished second in 2012, first in 2011 and second in 2010 beating out national powers LSU, Texas A&M and Baylor.
In last year’s meet, National Champion Nachelle Mackie and All-American Christen Guenther led BYU to its second-place finish. Mackie won the 800-meter run, broke BYU’s school record and also broke the New Balance Invitational record for the 800. Guenther cleared 4.30m (14-1.25) in the pole vault to finish second. Her mark broke the BYU pole vault record, which still stands today.
Also during last year’s meet, Katie Palmer, Lacey Bleazard and Sarah Edwards joined Mackie to break a 25-year old school record in the 4x800. The four combined to finish first in 8:37.97, more than 18 seconds faster than the second-place team.
In this year’s invitational, Rachel Fisher is set to lead the team in the pole vault and Elizabeth Wilson in the jumps. In the past three meets, Fisher has finished first with vaults of 3.95m, 4.10m and 4.00m. During the Cherry and Silver Invitational Fisher’s mark of 4.10m was her highest vault in more than a year.
During the Air Force Invitational last week, Wilson finished third in the pentathlon with 3,762 points, a lifetime best. She also recorded lifetime bests in the shot put (13.35) and long jump (5.86m). She is set to compete in the long jump and triple jump. Melissa Keltner will also compete in the jumps with Wilson.
Freshman Kaylee Packham will compete in the 500-meter race, a race not typically run in collegiate competition. Packham’s mother, Stephanie Packham, currently holds the BYU indoor record in the 500, which she set Feb. 28, 1987, at the BYU Invitational.
The invitational will begin Friday at 9:30 a.m. ET with the women’s 3K in the Armory Track and Field Center.
Live streaming and results can be found on Flotrack.org.