COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (February 26) - After dominating the WAC in the 90s, the track teams picked up right where they left off with victories in the MWC, as the men won their 11th consecutive indoor conference title and the women brought home their sixth-straight. Following the meet, men's coach Willard Hirschi and women's coach Craig Poole were named the MWC coaches of the year.
The women, powered by dominant finishes in the distance events, took first with 229 team points. They were followed by UNLV (91.5), San Diego State (89), and Colorado State (85). The men won with 193 team points, ahead of Wyoming (142), Colorado State (142), and Air Force (111). Kyle Grossarth led the way for the Cougars, scoring 32 points on his way to being named Meet High Point Winner.
Kirsten Bolm led the scoring on the women's side, picking up the 60-meter title in 6.20 seconds and the long jump title with an NCAA automatic-qualifying jump of 21'-2.75", setting a new BYU indoor record. Bolm also finished fourth in the 200 meters with a time of 24.12, rounding out the competition with 25 points and earning Women's Outstanding Performer honors.
BYU's women won 11 of 17 events on the weekend, led by its talented distance runners. Cougar runners took at least the top two spots in each distance event, and their 99 points alone would have been enough to win the team title for BYU. Lindsay Nadauld won the 800 meters (2:13.12), Tara Haynes was the mile champion (4:58.41), Sharolyn Shields placed first in the 3,000 meters (9:51.70) and Marty Hernandez won the 5,000-meter title (17:33.65). Shields' time was a Fieldhouse record and NCAA provisional mark.
Other event champions were Jeana Bingham, the nation's fourth-ranked high jumper (5'-11.25"), Sara Higham, setting a new indoor school record in the pole vault (12'-3.5"), triple jumper Kristel Berendsen (41'-10"), and the mile and distance medley relay teams. Holly Gibbons was impressive in the 400 meters, finishing second while setting a new personal-best time of 55.19, the second-fastest in BYU indoor history.
"There was a real positive, upbeat feeling floating around all weekend," said Coach Poole. "We decided to run to a theme this weekend, which was 'run with heart' and the girls did just that. It was a Herculean team effort, as was evidenced by the fact that we had scoring across the board. The only event we didn't score in was the 60 meters, and even there, Misty [Jorgenson] set a new personal-best."
Competition was a little closer on the men's side, but the Cougars were able to emerge with a 51-point margin of victory, thanks largely to the all-around efforts of senior Kyle Grossarth. After placing second in the pentathlon in the first day of competition, Grossarth picked up the remainder of his 32 points on fourth-place finishes in the 400 meters and 60-meter hurdles and a third-place finish in the long jump.
The outcome was in doubt when a series of injuries to Mao Tjiroze, David Chesser and Scott Cummings meant a loss of a handful of points in the middle distance races. The misfortune was followed by a false start by Thobias Akwenye in the 60 meters, taking him out of the race he was a favorite to win. "When Thobias jumped the gun, it looked pretty dark," said Coach Hirschi. "We had some incredible individual performances that made up for our bad luck, however. Andrew Sorenson almost stayed home but ended up taking second in the 800, which was one of the most shocking performances I've seen in 35 years of coaching. I thought we'd be lucky to win after all the team points we lost due to injury. It was just a remarkable team effort."
Akwenye came back to help make up for the temporary absence of All-American sprinter Kenneth Andam, as he won the 200 meter title in an NCAA provisional time of 21.17. Other event wins came from Randy Himes in the 60-meter hurdles (7.95), high-jumper Marc Chenn (7'-1") and pole-vaulter Alan Gulledge (17'4.5"). Jim Roberts, the nation's top ranked shot-putter, finished second with a toss of 64'5.25".
The Mountain West Conference meet was the Cougars' last before the NCAA Indoor Championships , March 10-11 in Fayetteville, Ark.
1. BYU 229
2. UNLV 91.5
3. San Diego St. 89
4. Colorado St. 85
5. Wyoming 82.5
6. New Mexico 39
7. Utah 32
8. Air Force 15
1. BYU 193
2. Wyoming 142
3. Colorado St. 142
4. Air Force 111
5. Utah 36
6. New Mexico 26
Coach of the Year- Craig Poole, BYU
Outstanding Performer- Kirsten Bolm, BYU
Freshman of the Year- Anna-Lee Walcott, BYU
Meet High Point Winner: Aja Frary, SDSU (26 pts)
Coach of the Year- Willard Hirschi, BYU
Outstanding Performer- Jason Gervais, WYO
Freshman of the Year- Ben Marvin, CSU
Meet High Point Winner- Kyle Grossarth, BYU (32 pts)
PROVO, Utah (February 23) - The men's and women's track teams are looking for their 11th and sixth-straight conference titles, respectively, this weekend, as they compete in the indoor Mountain West Conference championships this Thursday through Saturday in Colorado Springs.
BYU teams have won at least a share of every MWC title so far this year, with strong seasons in men's and women's cross country, women's soccer, women's volleyball, football, and most recently swimming and diving. The track and field indoors should be no different, says men's coach Willard Hirschi. "The conference is a little less competitive this year than in previous years, and we have a stronger team than we did last season," said Hirschi.
The men will have to do without the conference's fastest man, Kenneth Andam, for this weekend's meet. Andam, who sits atop the conference standings in both the 60m and 200m, severely sprained his left ankle at the Air Force Invitational January 29. Andam earned top-15 national rankings in both events despite limited action (10th, 60 meters; 14th, 200 meters). He is expected to return to action next week, as he prepares for the NCAA indoors.
Currently ranked 20th in the Power poll, the men feature several All-Americans sitting prominently on national performance lists. Heading the group is shot putter Jim Roberts, who has the nation's best performance this year at 64'-10.75". Also ranked are high jumper Marc Chenn (13th) and pole vaulters Allan Gulledge (8th) and Jeff Hansen (9th).
Coach Craig Poole has his squad in top form heading into Colorado. "We're looking great right now," said Poole. "We didn't get as many qualifying marks as we had hoped for in the last couple of weeks, and a lot of our girls realize that this may be their last chance to qualify for nationals. We will be extremely hard to beat."
The women are sitting in the No. 9 spot in this week's Power Rankings. Cougar athletes sit atop the conference rankings in nine of 17 events, including all four distance events. BYU also has four entries in the top ten in national rankings: Elizabeth Jackson in the 5000m (3rd, 16:07), Kirsten Bolm in the 60m hurdles (8.13, 3rd), Jeana Bingham in the high jump (6'-0.75", 4th) and the distance medley team (11:23.90, 7th).