POCATELLO -- The BYU men's and women's track teams each came home with five event wins from the Mountain States Games, held at Idaho State University Friday and Saturday. Showcasing the depth of their talent, the two teams combined for a total of 43 top-five finishes over the two days of competition.
On Friday, the Cougars started strong with a win from the women's distance medley relay team. Jolee Gillespie, Melanie Steere, Vickie Tams-Kern and Sharolyn Shields-Thayer combined for a first-place finish in a time of 11:42.32, nearly ten seconds ahead of the next finisher. In addition, sophomore Lindsey Thomsen became the third BYU runner this year to record an NCAA provisional qualifying mark in the 5,000-meters. Her time of 16:47.31 was second only to former Cougar and 2000 Olympian Maggie Chan, who just held off Thomsen to win the race in 16:47.06. Friday was also the first chance for All-American decathlete Curtis Pugsley to complete competition in a multi-event format. Pugsley, who withdrew early from last week's Air Force Invitational to avoid risking injury, scored a victory in the pentathlon. His mark of 3852 points qualifies him for the USA Championships in that event, which is not contested at the NCAA Championships.
On Saturday, the Cougars continued to shine, recording wins in the sprints and the field events. Senior All-American Melanie Steere won the mile in 4:52.72, and sophomore Greg Flint ran the 400-meters in 47.82 to edge out teammate Matt Nielsen who finished second in 48.16. BYU swept the 60-meter races as senior All-American Thobias Akwenye won the men's race in 6.86 seconds and sophomore Misty Jorgensen took the women's title with a time of 7.66 . Akwenye also recorded a second-place finish in the 200-meters, turning in a provisional time of 21.74.
In the field events, senior All-American Jim Roberts continued to improve on his already impressive marks in the shot put. Roberts recorded a lifetime best with a put of 66'10.00" (20.37m), which is four and a half feet beyond the NCAA automatic qualifying standard. Senior All-American Jeana Bingham cleared 5'11.25" to win the high jump, and M.E. Clayton won the triple jump with a leap of 38' 09.00" (11.81m).
"This was a pretty good meet for us," said men's coach Mark Robison. "With one more to go before the conference meet, we feel pretty good about the way we performed today. We left some of our kids at home to train and get ready for next weekend's trip to Arkansas, so when you add them back in we should be in really good shape from here on out."
The next competition for BYU will be the Arkansas Invitational, Feb. 9-10 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Both teams will also send smaller contingents to Ogden, Utah to compete in the Weber State Invitational Feb. 10.
PROVO -- BYU will send its men's and women's track teams to Pocatello, Idaho this weekend to compete in the Mountain States Games. The meet, to be held at Holt Arena on the campus of Idaho State University, will feature 600-700 of the best track & field athletes in the country. Two-time NCAA champion Leonard Myles-Mills (100-meters), a former Cougar, will be one of the headliners at the event which will also include numerous conference champions and NCAA finalists and many more elite national and regional competitors. Other teams competing in the meet will be ISU, Utah State, Utah, Southern Utah, Weber State, Utah Valley State College, Ricks College, Boise State, Montana State and the Greater Boise Running Club.
This year's Games will feature several nationally ranked athletes competing in the field events. Maureen Griffen, the American Junior record holder in the hammer throw, broke the Holt Arena and Big Sky Conference records in the weight throw last week, and he holds the third-longest throw in the nation. BYU's Jim Roberts, an All-American in the shot put, is coming off a first-place finish at last week's Air Force Invitational. Roberts recorded the second-best throw of his career, and the third-best throw in the nation this year, with a toss of 65'04.25", a full three feet farther than the NCAA automatic qualifying standard.
Weber State's Joel Atwater and ISU's Emry Carr will headline a men's distance lineup that will feature some of the top regional talent. Atwater and Carr produced the #5 and #6 marks in the nation in the mile last week, and Carr owns the third-fastest collegiate time in the 5,000-meters this season. BYU will bring in four of the nation's best female distance runners with Elizabeth Jackson, Tara Northcutt, Courtney Meldrum and Sharolyn Shields-Thayer. Jackson (16:29.27) and Northcutt(16:35.62) both recorded NCAA provisional times in the 5,000 last week in Minnesota, while Meldrum ran a provisional time of 9:37.55 in the 3,000-meters and Shields-Thayer ran 4:48.14 in the mile, also a provisional mark.
The action will begin Friday at noon with the men's and women's pentathlon, then preliminary rounds of the running events will follow at 5:30. Start time Saturday will be 9:00 a.m., with the continuation of the field and running events. The final event of the day, the 4z400-meter relay is scheduled for 3:35 p.m.