Track Teams Look to Continue Conference Title Sweep for BYU
PROVO, Utah (February 23) - The men's and women's track teams are looking for their 11th and sixth-straight conference titles, respectively, this weekend, as they compete in the indoor Mountain West Conference championships this Thursday through Saturday in Colorado Springs.
BYU teams have won at least a share of every MWC title so far this year, with strong seasons in men's and women's cross country, women's soccer, women's volleyball, football, and most recently swimming and diving. The track and field indoors should be no different, says men's coach Willard Hirschi. "The conference is a little less competitive this year than in previous years, and we have a stronger team than we did last season," said Hirschi.
The men will have to do without the conference's fastest man, Kenneth Andam, for this weekend's meet. Andam, who sits atop the conference standings in both the 60m and 200m, severely sprained his left ankle at the Air Force Invitational January 29. Andam earned top-15 national rankings in both events despite limited action (10th, 60 meters; 14th, 200 meters). He is expected to return to action next week, as he prepares for the NCAA indoors.
Currently ranked 20th in the Power poll, the men feature several All-Americans sitting prominently on national performance lists. Heading the group is shot putter Jim Roberts, who has the nation's best performance this year at 64'-10.75". Also ranked are high jumper Marc Chenn (13th) and pole vaulters Allan Gulledge (8th) and Jeff Hansen (9th).
Coach Craig Poole has his squad in top form heading into Colorado. "We're looking great right now," said Poole. "We didn't get as many qualifying marks as we had hoped for in the last couple of weeks, and a lot of our girls realize that this may be their last chance to qualify for nationals. We will be extremely hard to beat."
The women are sitting in the No. 9 spot in this week's Power Rankings. Cougar athletes sit atop the conference rankings in nine of 17 events, including all four distance events. BYU also has four entries in the top ten in national rankings: Elizabeth Jackson in the 5000m (3rd, 16:07), Kirsten Bolm in the 60m hurdles (8.13, 3rd), Jeana Bingham in the high jump (6'-0.75", 4th) and the distance medley team (11:23.90, 7th).