PROVO, Utah -- BYU track and field kicked off its indoor season with a victory at the three-day BYU Cougar Indoor Invitational at the Smith Fieldhouse, which concluded on Saturday.
“This was an excellent meet for the team, especially coming off a long Christmas break,” BYU head coach Ed Eyestone said. “I think we were all a little bit nervous to see what would happen, and I think our athletes, by and large, surpassed our expectations. We had great performances across all the categories.”
Blackham put on a show for the crowd, clearing a height of 7’2.25” (2.19m) on a clutch third attempt, securing first place at the meet. Despite being just short of his personal record of 7'3"(2.21m), Blackham finished with a 7’2.25”, winning the meet while sitting comfortably in eighth place nationally.
“For Zach to perform like he did, this early, is awesome,” jumps coach Mark Robison said. “He almost got the 7’3.5”, which would have put him even higher on the (national) top 10 board. He was really close.”
Stapleton set a new personal record in the high jump, a mark of 5’10.75" (1.80m). Her previous personal record was a 5’9.75” (1.77m) at the 2016 BYU Robison Invitational. On Saturday's meet, Stapleton both took first in the high jump and advanced to claim seventh place overall on the national top 10 indoor list.
Blackham and Stapleton both placed in the top five at last year's Indoor Track and Field Championships. Blackham took third overall with a mark of 7’1.75”, and Stapleton took fifth overall with a 5’8.5” mark. Coach Robison looks forward to what Blackham and Stapleton will accomplish in this indoor season.
In the men’s mile finals, unattached Talem Franco took first place, with Marcus Dickson in second, finishing in 4:13.05, and Connor Ross close behind, taking third in 4:13.56. BYU claimed the top five spots in the women’s mile, with Whittni Orton taking first in the women’s mile, finishing with a time of 4:52.36. Erica Jarvis was immediately behind her in second place with a 4:52.39 time, and Rachel Stewart, Kristi Rush and Madelyn Brooks took third, fourth and fifth.
Jesus Serrano finished the day with a personal best of 8.19 in the 60-meter hurdles, taking first place in the men’s competition. He placed just ahead of Max Scheible who ran an 8.43 time. Unattached Shaye Springall won the women’s 60-meter hurdles in 8.65, with BYU’s Kaitlyn Gunnerson taking second place with a 9.10 time. Fellow Cougars Margaret Appiah, Nicole Laws, Brenna Porter and Naomi Welling took fourth through seventh, respectively.
BYU sprinter Tatenda Tsumba took first place in the men’s 60 meters with a 6.85. He was followed by Cougars Curtis Brown, Ricky Fantroy and Derek Lord who took fourth, fifth and sixth. For the women, unattached Springall took first in 7.68, with BYU’s Keesha Miller taking second place with a time of 7.74.
Scheible took first place for BYU in the 500 meters with a time of 1:04.20. Behind him was Cougar Scott Mecham in third place with a 1:04.95 time. Women’s runner Lauren Rawlinson took second place overall in the 500 meters in 1:16.56, with Welling taking fifth.
Cougar Tatenda Tsumba placed second overall in the men’s 300m with a time of 34.40. Close behind him in fourth was teammate Curtis Brown, who finished in 34.93, in front of Drew Tingey who tied for third with a time of 35.09. For the women, BYU’s Christina Hedgepath took first overall with a 41.37 mark, while Gunnerson and Miller took fourth and fifth for the Cougars in the 300m.
Distance runners Clayton Young, Rory Linkletter, Daniel Carney and Mitchell Briggs all gave impressive showings in the 3000m, claiming the top five spots, with Young finishing in 8:07.69. On the women’ side, Ashleigh Warner took the top spot in 9:53.03, with Olivia Hoj, Courtney Wayment, Yesenia Silva and Alice Jensen behind her in second through fifth places.
In the 4x400-meter relays, Tsumba, Tingey, Derek Lord and Chase Heiner crossed the line first with a time of 3:22.66 for the men, and the relay team with Gunnerson, Rawlinson, Porter and Samantha Reeves claimed first for the women with a time of 4:06.25.
Cougar jumper Chloe Hadley took first place in the women's triple jump finals with a mark of 11.43, and she finished second in the long jump with a 5.36 mark.
BYU’s Jameson Shirley and Jake Jarvis took the top two spots in the men’s pole vault finals, both athletes finishing with 5.05m marks. On the women’s side, Kylee Trageser, Maleah McMullin, Kyndal Stewart and Sierra Hansen took the top four spots for the Cougars, Trageser leading the pack with a 3.97 mark.
Jefferson Jarvis took second place overall in the discus throw with a final mark of 47.08 while Jacob Foutz finished in fourth with a 45.58. Sadie Nielsen and Leah Thompson took first and third for the Cougars in the women’s competition with marks of 46.86 and 40.74, respectively.
The women’s heptathlon and the men’s pentathlon both finished on Friday, with Halley Folsom claiming the women’s victory with 3463 points, and close behind her was Lyndsay Yetter with 3294. Cougar Kevin Nielsen took the win in the pentathlon with 5525 points, with Jackson Walker in third with 4414 points.
“It was a really nice meet all around,” coach Eyestone concluded after a weekend of competition.
Up next, the Cougars will travel to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado to compete in the Air Force Indoor meet beginning on Thursday, Jan. 19.
For all results from this weekend’s meet, click here.