PROVO, Utah – For the second time this week, BYU track and field will compete in a meet away from home when it travels to Los Angeles for the 2016 Oxy Invitational on Saturday.
“It’s a fantastic meet with great competition,” BYU track and field head coach Ed Eyestone said. “Collegiate, post-collegiate and international athletes will be at this meet. Our athletes are excited for the opportunity, particularly our middle distance and distance runners who in some cases haven’t raced for a while.”
Aaron Fletcher and Shea Martinez-Collinsworth are notable athletes who have already qualified for regionals that will get some work in this weekend. Fletcher will run the 3000-meter steeplechase and he currently sits at No. 11 in the West Region in the event. Martinez-Collinsworth will be running either the 400 meters or the 800 meters. She is ranked No. 4 in the 800 meters in the West.
“Some of our athletes are guaranteed a spot (at regionals), but they really want to improve upon their marks for their own confidence,” Eyestone said.
This is the second to last event for the Cougars before NCAA competition begins at the NCAA West Prelims in Lawrence, Kansas.
“We’re approaching this weekend as if it were our conference meet,” Eyestone said. “The great thing is that it’s three weeks away from the first round of the NCAA’s. This allows our athletes to go 100 percent to try to get some of their best marks of the year. It helps them get the confidence, as well as the ranking in their events, they need to go into the national meet and do well. It’s also a nice chance for some of our athletes who are right on the border of getting in to improve upon their marks.”
Many athletes on the border of regional qualification will be in action in California. Athletes must be in the top-48 in the West Region in their respective events to qualify for the first round of NCAA competition.
On the men’s side, Connor Ross currently sits at No. 84 in the 800 meters and needs to improve his time by just over a second. Rory Linkletter, Dylan Shawhan and Clayton Young rank Nos. 64, 68 and 85, respectively, in the 5000 meters. For perspective, Young’s time is about 14 seconds off the pace required. Ian McGetrick is ranked No. 73 for the 400-meter hurdles and is 0.58 seconds away from a qualifying mark.
UCLA currently occupies the last available spot for the 4x100-meter relay with a time of 40.36. BYU is No. 73 with a time of 40.62. Stephen French has the chance to make up ground in the pole vault. He needs a vault of 5.11 meters or better to qualify. Blake Steeves’s best long jump of the season is 7.08 meters. He needs a mark of 7.33 meters or better. A few other men’s athletes on the outside looking in also have a chance to move up.
For the women, Diamond Thomas is No. 75 in the 100 meters, 0.12 seconds shy of a qualifying spot. Madelyn Brooks will run the 800 meters, an event in which she is ranked No. 94. She is less than two seconds off the regional-pace. Kristi Rush will run the 1500 meters and must improve by a little more than two seconds to claim a spot.
Emma Gee is just outside the top-48 at No. 59 in the 3000-meter steeplechase and needs a four-second improvement. The women’s 4x100-meter relay team is 0.6 seconds away from qualification. Chloe Richardson has a season-best mark of 1.71 meters in the high jump. A mark of 1.73 meters would get her in. Kylee Trageser needs a 0.02 meter-improvement to qualify in pole vault.
“We’re going to go in and hopefully get some of our best marks of the year,” Eyestone said.
Complete results from the Oxy Invitational can be found on the BYU men’s track and field schedule page.