CLAREMONT -- In a race in which seven BYU runners recorded NCAA qualifying marks, senior All-American Elizabeth Jackson ran the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 9:59.50 to win the event at the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational. The Cougars competed in both the Pomona meet and the Mt. SAC Relays, in nearby Walnut, Calif. over the weekend.
Jackson, the current American record holder in the steeplechase, turned in the fastest time in the world this year with the win at Pomona. She became the only American to break 10 minutes in the event when she set the national record at the 2000 US Olympic trials, running a 9:57.20 to win the event in that meet.
The Cougar women went 1-2-3 in the steeplechase at the Pitzer Invitational, with sophomore Nan Evans finishing second in 10:16.92 and senior Tara Haynes taking third in 10:21.00. Haynes just missed the NCAA automatic qualifying standard of 10:20.00, but BYU had four more finishers come in under the provisional mark of 11:10.00. Katie Martin (10:29.79), Sherida Rogers (10:31.69) and Katie Moon (10:42.53) took the fifth through seventh spots, and senior Kristen Edwards ran 11:00.21 to finish ninth.
In addition to the strong showing in the steeplechase, the BYU runners recorded several qualifying marks at the Mt. SAC Relays. Sophomore Lindsey Thomsen just missed the automatic standard of 16:13.00, running 16:13.16 in her heat of the 5,000 meters. Senior Sharolyn Shields-Thayer ran a provisional time of 4:21.74 in the 1500 m, and sophomore Sarah Ellett turned in a provisional time of 35:12.79 in the 10,000m.
Next week, the Cougars will travel to Des Moines Iowa to compete in the Drake Invitational.
PROVO -- On the last weekend of the winter semester, the BYU men's and women's track teams will send a small contingent of athletes to Walnut, California for the Mt. SAC Relays. The rest of those competing will travel to Logan, Utah to participate in the Mark Faldmo Open, hosted by Utah State University.
With final exams beginning Friday, many members of the Cougar track teams will be taking the weekend off of competition to concentrate on their studies. But several of BYU's top athletes are scheduled to compete in the California meet, and they are looking to record NCAA qualifying marks.
The Mt. SAC Relays will feature athletes from over 35 countries, along with many college and university competitors. This weekend's event will be the 43rd edition of the nation's largest meet. One of the world-class athletes highlighting the meet will be sprinter Marion Jones, winner of five Olympic medals and a three time Mt. SAC champion in the 400 meters.
For the BYU women's team, the meet will provide an opportunity to potentially qualify several runners for the NCAA Championships. Senior All-Americans Elizabeth Jackson, Courtney Meldrum and Tara Haynes are scheduled to compete in the 3,000-meter steeplechase for the first time this season. The Cougar trio took three of the top five places in last summer's US Olympic Trials, and will be looking to qualify in the event that makes its NCAA debut this season.
On the men's side, freshman Josh Rohatinsky and senior John Hedengren will look to qualify for the NCAA meet in the 5,000 meters. The pair provisionally qualified in the 10,000 meters three weeks ago at Stanford, with Rohatinsky's time falling within three seconds of the automatic standard.