PROVO, Utah (April 22) - BYU All-American Kenneth Andam continued his explosive return from injury with wins in three sprint events Saturday at the 12th annual Clarence Robison Invitational.
Andam, a junior from Takoradi, Ghana, who suffered a stress fracture in his left leg in January, began his victory-filled afternoon by winning the 100-meter dash in 10.22, a season high and NCAA provisional mark. Andam continued his winning ways in the 200 meters, claiming victory in 20.93 seconds, another season best. Andam was also the anchor on the Cougars' winning 4x100 relay team that took the title in 40.15 seconds. Following Andam in the 100 meters were Thobias Akwenye (10.22) and Cody Fonnesbeck (10.53). Akwenye also took second in the 200 meters with a season-best 21.08.
"We really needed this," said men's coach Willard Hirschi about the meet. "We've been pretty stagnant up to this point, and we finally broke out of it. A flock of guys set seasonal bests this weekend, and our sprinters and hurdlers were terrific."
Perhaps the biggest surprise on the men's side was a breakout performance in the decathlon by freshman Curtis Pugsley, who finished first among collegians and second overall in the competition. Pugsley became the first Cougar in two years to break the 7,000-point barrier, scoring 7,174 to provisionally qualify for the NCAA Championships. Also picking up a big win was Marc Chenn, who took the high jump title by clearing 7'-2.5". Chenn narrowly defeated Weber State's Charles Clinger, currently ranked No. 2 in the nation in the event.
BYU exercised its depth in the hurdles, beginning with the 110-meter high hurdles, where Slade Combs (14.21), Randy Himes (14.22), and Kyle Grossarth (14.53) took spots two through four in the finals. Grossarth returned to the track minutes later to place second in the 400-meter hurdles in 51.45. Chris Kemp finished in the fourth position with a personal-best 51.89. In the 400-meter competition, freshman David Chesser set a new season- and team-high with a time of 47.70 in a qualifying heat en route to finishing second in the finals (47.83). Also placing second was Randon Richards in the 5000 meters (15:17.35).
In the field events, Jim Roberts earned another win in the shot put, adding six more inches to his NCAA provisional mark with a throw of 61'-11.75". Rick Madsen followed up Roberts' performance with a Cougar win in the long jump, as his season-best effort of 23'-8.75" gave him the victory by more than two feet over his nearest competitor. Keeping up the tradition of setting season-bests were Jeremy Kemp in the pole vault (4th, 16-6.75) and Jared Scott, who added more than sixteen feet to his previous javelin best (6th, 195-7.25).
The Cougars will have next weekend off to prepare for another home meet, Saturday, April 6 against Utah State and the University of Washington.
PROVO, Utah (April 18) - The Cougars will take on the best talent in the region this weekend, as they host the Robison Invitational, April 20-22 at the BYU Track complex. Admission is free of charge for all three days of competition.
"We're looking for a good day," said men's head coach Willard Hirschi. "Final exams will be over, so we're looking for some mentally tough performances. If the weather is what it's supposed to be, we should set a number of seasonal bests. The meet will be a great opportunity to step on the track and improve on what has happened so far."
Among those expected to compete are Utah, Utah State, Weber State, Southern Utah, Idaho State, Ricks and UVSC. A number of former collegians will also participate as "unattached" athletes, including two-time NCAA 100-meter champion Leonard Myles-Mills and former world record-holder Tiffany Lott-Hogan. The meet began in 1989, following the retirement of former men's head coach Clarence Robison. The Cougars have won every men's and women's team title since the event's inception.
The women's team, ranked No. 7 by Trackwire and No. 4 in the latest Power Rankings, will field athletes dotting the nation's leader board in a variety of events. Leading the way is German native Kirsten Bolm, who is the Cougars' lone competitor ranked No. 1 in the country, in the long jump. Bolm is also at No. 20 in the 100-meter hurdles ranking. Also scheduled to compete this weekend are Jeana Bingham, ranked 10th in the high jump and Amy Curtis (16th, javelin). The meet's most well-rounded competitor may be Marty Hernandez, who is nationally ranked in three separate events. Hernandez is 4th in the 10,000 meters, 12th in the 5,000 meters and 22nd in the 3,000 meters.
The men have their fair share of NCAA Championship hopefuls on hand for the invitational. The highest ranking of the group belongs to senior Kyle Grossarth, who is sitting at No. 4 in the 400-meter hurdles. Kenneth Andam is the nation's 16th-ranked 100-meter runner, John Hedengren is No. 21 in the 10,000 meters. High jumper Marc Chenn is at No. 13 nationally, and indoor All-American Jim Roberts has the ninth-best performance of the season in the shot put.
The meet will begin Thursday with the first half of the heptathlon and decathlon competition, and will conclude Saturday afternoon with the 4x400 relays at 2:20 p.m.