ALBUQUERQUE -- The Cougar men came home with the title from the Mountain West Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships but the women couldn't hold on to win the final event and finished second to Colorado State.
"We performed better than it looked like we would on paper and I am very proud of the great job our women did," Coach Craig Poole said. "Colorado State performed well and deserved to win this but our girls still had some outstanding performances."
The men had a strong lead for most of the meet and finished with 206 points, 63 points above Colorado State. The real drama came with the women. The Cougars trailed Colorado State from the beginning of the championships but were one point ahead of the rams going into the final event, the mile relay. Challis Firl narrowed the gap to a handful of strides as the anchor leg but in the end it was Colorado State with the win and the title.
"It was an awesome meet," said Coach Mark Robison. "Our kids just stepped
up and did a heck of a job and I'm very proud of them."
Saturday competition was good to the Cougar field athletes. High jump victor David Pendergrass went two time, triple jumping his way to a second victory at the championships with his jump of 48 feet 8.25 inches. This was only his second time competing in the triple this year. Matt Anderson and Boian Marinov went one and two in the long jump Friday and triple jumped their way to fourth and fifth.
It was Robbie Pratt taking the title in the pole vault with a MWC all-time jump of 18 feet 4.5 inches. Other vaulters also made an impact on the score with Bob Low taking fifth, Matt Weirich in sixth and Whitney Neves taking seventh in the event.
Kristin Hirst took the platform for her sixth-place finish in the high jump to add points to the Cougar cause. The triple jump title went to Kamila Rywelska for the second straight year. Rywelska's jump of 42 feet .5 inches was a MWC all-time record and a personal best.
The 60-meter hurdles ended on a positive note for both teams with the women taking second and fifth in their event. The men fought their way to second, third, fifth and sixth place finishes. Jacob Garlick led the group, less than a second from first with a personal-best time of 8.03. Ben Gardner was third to cross the line, also with a personal-best time of 8.17.
The sprinters on the men's side maintained speed throughout the day. In the 60-meter dash Paul Smith came in sixth and Cody Fonnesbeck eighth. Smith and Gardner finished third and fourth in the 200 meters. Then it was freshman Chris Carter taking second in the 400 meters in a meet-record time of 47.26.
For the women sprinters, it was Mindy Neeley with a fifth-place finish in the 200 meters and a sixth-place finish in the 60 meters.
The distance events added point after point for both teams. A sufficient amount of pushing and shoving marked the beginning of the women's mile. In the end it was Laura Taylor in fourth, Ann Marie Thomas in fifth and Carolyn Quebe in sixth. Next was the men's mile with Josh McAdams and Kyle Perry finishing first and second and Tyrel Jensen in fourth.
The 800-meter races were tight for men and women alike. Michelle Lindsay and Challis Firl went one and two in their event and teammate Allison Passey also scored with a sixth-place finish. For the men, it was Jacob Gustafsson in second and Jason Dorais in third.
The women started things off on the right foot in the 3,000 meters with Anne Heiner as the first Cougar to cross the line in third with a time of 9:52.74. BYU women took third through sixth in the event. On the men's side it was Kyle Perry with a third-place finish.
The men culminated their victory with a second-place finish in the mile relay to end the championships.
As for the additional awards at the Championships, Mindy Neeley won the Freshman of the Year award. David Pendergrass was the co-winner of the men's High Point award, Robbie Pratt was awarded the MWC men's Most Outstanding Performance and Coach Robison was honored as the MWC Coach of the Year.
The Cougars will have one more opportunity to qualify for the indoor national championships next week when they compete at a pair of last chance meets. Nationals will be Mar. 10-11, 2006 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Provo will play host to five outdoor meets this season including the MWC Outdoor Championships and the NCAA Regional Championships. For more information about the BYU track and field program or for schedule information, visit our Web sites and www.byucougars.com or www.byutrack.com.