(COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.) -- The BYU women's track team maintained its stranglehold on the conference, coming home from the Mountain West Conference Indoor Track Championships with a fourth consecutive indoor track titles. BYU finished with 175 points, followed by Colorado State with 131 and Wyoming with 101.
The Cougar women led from the first day, when Anna-Lee Walcott broke the old conference record of 3902 in the pentathlon with a score of 3920 points to win the women's pentathlon title and give the BYU team a lead they never relinquished.
"It is always new and it is always exciting to win the meet because every time is different and you always have new athletes," BYU women's head coach Craig Poole said. "I am really pleased with the job my staff is doing because that is what makes our program great."
In all, the women's team brought home six individual conference crowns, including two titles from the final day of competition.
Following Walcott's win in the pentathlon, the second day saw senior All-American Tara Northcutt lead the Cougars to a one-two-three finish in the 5000 meter as she set a new conference record in the event with a time of 17:23.03, destroying the mark of 17:33.65 set by former BYU trackster Marty Hernandez in 2000. Lindsey Thomsen followed Northcutt across the line in 17:57.32 and Jessie Kindschi finished in 18:01.88 to complete the Cougars one-two-three finish in the event.
The BYU women claimed two more crowns on the second day. Nikki Hughes won the long jump by leaping 19-08.00 (5.99) for the win. Then the women's distance medley team cruised to victory in the distance medley relay with a time of 12:18.41 to complete the second day winning for the Cougar women.
Hughes was the top Cougar scorer for the meet with 25 points. In addition to her win in the long jump, Hughes finished second in the triple jump with a leap of 40-03.25 (12.27) and took fourth in the 60-meter hurdles in a time of 8.67 seconds and seventh in the 60-meter dash in 7.71 seconds
Northcutt won her second conference title of the meet on the final day, posting a provisional-qualifying time of 9:58.45 to knock off teammate Devra Vierkant, who finished second in 10:09.16, to claim the 3000 meter crown.
Lindsey Steele brought home the final event title for the BYU women, winning the high jump title for the Cougars with a leap of 5-09.75 (1.77).
The BYU men's team brought home eight individual titles to score 182 points but came up just short in its quest to win a fourth consecutive indoor track title in the Mountain West Conference, losing to Colorado State by nine points. Air Force finished third with 130 points.
"We are disappointed but for the most part we did well at the meet," BYU men's head coach Mark Robison said. "Colorado State did a great job and they stepped up. Hopefully this will inspire us to get in and get things done so we can be ready for the outdoor season."
The Cougar men got off to a good start as well, with Devin Howe claiming the men's pentathlon title with a total of 3556 points to start BYU off right. Howe contributed to the Cougars in the high jump with a seventh-place finish and was named freshman of the year for his performance.
On the second day of competition, the BYU men made their presence known in the high jump by finishing one-two in the event. Ammon Dahl cleared a height of 6-08.75 (2.05) to win the title and David Pendergrass took second with a jump of 6-06.75 for the Cougars.
Aron Szmuda set another conference record for the Cougars with a leap of 25-06.25 (7.78) to win the long jump crown. The mark is a Slovenian national record and earned Szmuda an NCAA provisional qualifying mark in the event. Szmuda also had a personal-best jump of 50-11.50 (15.53) on only two attempts to finish second in the triple jump.
The final day of competition saw the Cougar men have a one-two-three finish in the 400-meter dash. Matt Nielsen won in 47.51 seconds, followed by Matt Rowe in 47.97 for second and Greg Flint in third with a time of 48.01.
Flint had a win for BYU in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.13 seconds. The Cougars also fared well in the 800, with Mao Tjiroze clocking a time of 1:53.26 for the title. The men's 4x440 relay squad also won in a time of 3:12.73.
The final individual event title for the BYU men's track team came in the pole vault, where Jeff Hansen set a new conference record by clearing an NCAA automatic-qualifying height of 18-02.00 (5.54) to win the event.
PROVO -- The BYU men's and women's track teams travel to the Air Force Academy this week to defend their Mountain West Conference crowns.
The Cougars, who have won every Mountain West Conference title in both indoor and outdoor track since the conference was created in 1999, are favored to continue their conference domination this week.
"We have the people to win the conference again this year," BYU men's head coach Mark Robison said. "We just need everybody to step up and do the things we know we can do."
The BYU men won last year's indoor conference title with a total of 214 points. Colorado State finished second with 132.5 and Air Force was third with 130.
Three Cougars that won titles at last year's indoor championships will be looking to defend their titles this year. Greg Flint won the 400 last year and is tied for the third fastest time in the conference this year behind teammates Matt Nielsen and Kish Beverley.
Jeff Hopkinson won the 800 title and has the second best time in the conference in that event behind teammate Mao Tjiroze. The final returning indoor conference champion for the BYU men is Jeremy Kemp in the pole vault.
The BYU women's track team has never lost at a conference meet and looks to claim their 12th straight conference indoor title, includingnine in the Western Athletic Conference prior to joining the Mountain West Conference.
"Winning the conference is important to me, the staff, the kids and the school but I never really have any expectations coming in," BYU women's head coach Craig Poole said. "I just have a desire for every kid to perform at their best level for this meet. "
Last year, the Cougar women won the conference indoor crown with 203 points, distancing themselves from runner-up Colorado State, who finished with 141 and third-place UNLV with 98.
The BYU women return two indoor conference champions from last year's meet. Jamie Cottle won the 800 title last year and has the second fastest time in the conference this season. The other returning champion is Lindsey Thomsen in the 5000, who ranks third in the conference this year behind teammates Tara Northcutt and Devra Vierkant.
The meet starts tomorrow (Thurs., Feb. 21) and concludes on Saturday. For a complete schedule of events, go to http://themwc.fansonly.com/sports/c-track/stats/021402aaa.html.