FAYETTEVILLE -- Cougar blue shown through with a top-15 finish at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships Saturday. The men competed in just three events but managed 16 points with two seconds and one 12th-place finish.
"I'm extremely pleased with how well we performed," Coach Mark Robison said. "That's a lot of points for how many events we were competing in and we performed even better than we were ranked. I feel great about it."
The Cougars couldn't have hoped for a better outcome to Friday's competition. The men's distance medley relay fought their way to a second-place finish, less than a second behind Arkansas. Sophomore Jacob Gustafsson got things off on the right foot, then hurdler Ben Gardner took the 400-meter leg and Jason Dorais in the 800 meters. When Josh McAdams stepped up as the 1600-meter anchor leg, everything went right for the team. McAdams wrapped things up with a time of 9:37.92, passing teams and keeping pace for a lose-your-voice-screaming photo finish.
"It's such a thrill to do as well as we did at a national competition," McAdams said. " It took a lot of determination and hard work, but in the end everyone just did their part and did it well."
Dorais and McAdams are veterans in the event, taking seventh at these championships last year. This particular team qualified for nationals one week ago with a time of 9:33.77, just short of a record set by last year's team of 9:33.70. That time was the third-fastest time in the nation going into this week's championships.
Pole vaulter Robbie Pratt also put up eight points for the team with his second-place finish Friday. Going into the championships, Pratt was 1/4 inch behind Oregon's Thomas Skipper. The pair pushed each other to greater heights and each cleared a final height of 18 feet 6.5 inches, an NCAA personal best for Pratt. Skipper cleared the height in less attempts than Pratt, earning himself the national title.
"It was a classic battle between the two best pole vaulters in the country and Robbie came up second but with a great height," pole vault coach Larry Berryhill said. "When you have two national champions competing against each other, that's pretty intense."
Pratt, the reigning outdoor national champion, took sixth at these championships last year. He was most recently crowned as the Mountain West Conference Indoor Champion. His current personal best is 18 feet 8.5 inches, which was set earlier this season at a non-NCAA sanctioned meet.
David Pendergrass took his turn in the high jump Saturday, finishing 12th with a height of 6 feet 11.75 inches in front of a massive track and field crowd of 5,596. Pendergrass is a four-time Mountain West Conference champion. He also took the MWC title in the triple jump this season. He set a personal best of 7 feet 2.75 inches earlier this year, the sixth-highest height of all-time at BYU.
Indoor nationals were the culmination of the indoor track and field season. The Cougars will now jump right into the outdoor season beginning next week. For more information about the BYU track and field program, please visit their web sites at www.byucougars.com or www.byutrack.com.