Taylor Wins 1,500-Meter Crown; Cougars Finish Fourth at NCAA Championships
DURHAM -- Predicted as merely a top-10 finisher, the BYU women's track & field team exceeded all expectations with a fourth-place team finish at the 2000 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. LSU won the team title, followed by USC and UCLA.
"I think we did an awesome job," said women's coach Craig Poole. "The kids who have been here before and who are mature got the job done for us in a big way. We figured heading into the meet that we would finish top-10, so we exceeded our own expectations in that respect. A lot of the big predictors and news groups picked us to finish around 18th, so we kind of made them eat their own words this week."
For the first time in school history, the Cougars had two NCAA champions in a single meet, as Susan Taylor captured the 1,500-meter title on Saturday. Her mark of 4:13.03 was a BYU record, eclipsing a 13-year old standard set by Julie Jenkins in 1987. Taylor started the race on the inside lane, and was quickly engulfed in the pack as competitors rushed to the inside. For the first three laps, Taylor hovered in the middle of the pack, before making her move in the last 400 meters. She passed the leader down the straight-away on the bell lap, and extended her lead through the finish line, defeating defending champ Carmen Douma of Villanova by more than three seconds.
"When I first went out I was pretty boxed in," said Taylor. "I was right where I wanted to be on the inside, but I was a bit further back in the pack than I had planned. It was a little scary for a while there, but luckily I was able to out-kick everyone to the finish."
Taylor's winning time improved on her qualifying mark for the Olympic trials by more than three and a half seconds.
"I just wanted to go out do the best I could for the team. I ended up winning and now I have a shot at the Olympics, so I couldn't ask for anything more," said Taylor.
The 10 team points from the 1,500 meters put the Cougars in second place with 46 points behind UCLA's 47 after 17 events. It also gave BYU its highest point total in NCAA competition, including all previous indoor and outdoor championships.
Earlier in the day, senior Kirsten Bolm finished fourth in the 100-meter hurdles, setting a new lifetime best with a time of 12.93. After a trademark slow start, Bolm battled through the middle hurdles to push the leaders and contend for the lead. Joyce Bates of LSU was the eventual winner in a time of 12.85. Only two hundredths of a second separated the second- and the fourth-place finishers.
Sharolyn Shields was the last competitor on schedule for the Cougars, but was unable to score additional team points in the 3,000 meters. Shields placed 11th in 9:33.42.
In men's action, freshman Curtis Pugsley finished the day with strong performances in two of the final five events of the decathlon to finish sixth overall. Pugsley picked up 858 points with a personal best 14.93 in the 100-meter high hurdles. The Park Valley, Utah native added 880 more points to his total with a mark of 16'-00.75" in the pole vault. Pugsley, who just returned from an LDS mission in December, recorded a distance of 129'-10" in the discus (636 pts.), 153'-06" in the javelin (541 pts.) and ran the 1,500 meters in 4:45.91 to pick up 644 points in the final event of the 10-event competition. Pugsley becomes the first BYU All-American in the decathlon since Keith Robinson became an All-American in both 1986 and 1987.
Senior Marc Chenn failed to advance in the high jump, missing all three attempts at the opening height (6'-11").