Men's track and field totals 12 tickets punched to nationals
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — No. 9 BYU men’s track and field stacked up six more national qualifying times as the men’s portion of the NCAA West Preliminary concluded at John McDonnell Field on Friday night.
“This was as perfect a night as you could’ve asked for,” said BYU Director of Track and Field Ed Eyestone. “Our theme all season has been “show up,” and our coaches and athletes certainly did that tonight.”
Senior sprinter Colten Yardley came up big for the Cougars in both the 400-meters hurdles and 4x100-meter relay.
Yardley clocked a personal-best 49.60 to finish seventh overall in the 400m hurdles and qualify for a second-straight nationals’ appearance. Yardley shaved 0.23 seconds off his previous best to reach No. 3 all-time at BYU, surpassing Greg Flint (2003) and his event coach Kyle Grossarth (2000).
Yardley then combined with Easton Bianchi, Jared Davis and Dallin Draper to give the 4x100 squad back-to-back national championship berths with a time of 39.51. The top-3 finishers in each of three heats along with the next-best three times overall were awarded with a nationals berth. Despite finishing sixth in a heat which included top-10 squads in TCU and Texas Tech, the Cougars mustered a qualifying time and finished 10th overall.
“Credit goes to Coach Kyle (Grossarth) getting the guys ready to run,” Yardley said. “To punch a ticket to nationals is a sweet deal, it’s something we’ve fought for.”
Sebastian Fernandez continued his meteoric rise for the Cougars as he went from walk-on to nationals-qualifier with a time of 1:47.62 on Friday. After leading for much of his heat, the freshman from Andover, Minnesota was ultimately passed by runners from Iowa State and USC, yet cleared Wisconsin’s Abdullahi Hassan for a top-3 finish.
Fernandez was among six of the top-20 men’s 800m runners in the country to compete at the West Preliminary. With his qualifying time in Fayetteville, Fernandez becomes the first Cougar to reach nationals in the men’s 800m since Shaquille Walker in 2016.
Forty-eight hours after reaching nationals’ qualifying position in the 10,000-meters, Casey Clinger returned to the track to do it again in the 5,000-meters. Clinger kept at the front of the pack throughout the race and turned it up at the end for a second-place finish at 13:28.69, one spot ahead of cross country regional rival Nico Young of Northern Arizona.
Despite finishing 26th in the 5,000m, Brandon Garnica is headed for Hayward Field with the 10,000m entry he collected on Wednesday.
Kenneth Rooks and Garrett Marsing qualified for a nationals steeplechase appearance as they finished fifth and sixth, respectively in Friday’s quarterfinal. Rooks turned up the intensity on the final lap, climbing to a fourth-place finish in his heat at 8:34.91. Marsing was runner-up in his heat at 8:36.19.
Both Rooks and Marsing will make their second-career steeplechase appearances at nationals. Marsing finished fourth in Eugene a season-ago and Rooks 11th in 2019 prior to his missionary service for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Zach Erikson, Davin Thompson and Adam Wood also represented BYU in the men’s steeplechase.
Discus thrower Dallin Shurts came up short of qualifying to compete in Eugene after fouls on his first two throws and a final attempt of 53.18m/174-6. Shurts finished 23rd of 46 after competing in a discus flight which included The Bowerman candidate and collegiate record-holder Mykolas Alekna of Cal.
The BYU women will seek to pile on even more nationals’ entries in the final day of preliminary competition beginning Saturday at 1 p.m. CDT with coverage beginning on SEC Network+ beginning at 5 p.m. CDT.