Three Cougars earn First Team All-American honors on day one of NCAA Championships
AUSTIN, Texas — No. 14 BYU men’s track and field capped a historic opening day at 2023 NCAA Outdoor Nationals, with three men earning First Team All-American honors and a new 4x400-meter relay school record cemented Wednesday at Texas’s Mike A. Myers Stadium.
Casey Clinger crossed the line at 28:13.63 in the 10,000-meters to claim a podium finish at third and earn his first outdoor First Team All-American honors and sixth in his career including indoor competition. The senior became the sixth BYU men’s 10,000m runner to finish in the top-three at outdoor nationals since 2010 and 11th on the podium in the same time span for the program.
“I felt really good over the last 2,000 meters,” said Clinger. “I knew I had to stay relaxed and composed to have a good finish. The Stanford guys went for it with 500 [meters] to go and I was a little bit boxed in, but I was able to find my way on the outside. I gave it everything I could and would have liked to win, but I think I can walk away happy with my effort in fighting for every spot.”
Clinger jockeyed for position in the final few laps to secure his spot at third in the final stretch, placing a second ahead of Gonzaga’s James Mwaura followed by Oklahoma State’s Isai Rodriguez. He was the first American finisher.
“He ran the perfect race," said BYU director of track and field Ed Eyestone. “That first mile was so fast and in these conditions, that’s a gut punch. But he was patient and moved up gradually to be in great position going into that final kick. I’m super happy with how he gutted it out.”
Senior Brandon Garnica also raced in the 10,000m. He clocked a 29:38.56 to take 16th and earn Second Team All-American honors, marking the second straight season he has earned second team accolades in the event.
Caleb Witsken capped off a remarkable BYU career with one final climb in the record books, tying Robison Pratt for No. 2 all-time in program history with a clearance of 5.60m/18-4.5 to place sixth overall. Witsken is now a First Team outdoor All-American for the first time in his career.
The senior now holds five All-American honors between indoor and outdoor seasons.
“He is a fighter,” said BYU volunteer assistant pole vault coach Rick McWhorter. “He started cramping after 5.45m, but managed to jump 5.60m. He knew this would be his last meet. I told him to relax and enjoy the moment.”
McWhorter has now coached two top-two BYU all-time outdoor finishers in the pole vault, with his son Zach McWhorter and Witsken becoming No.’s 1 and 2 in the last two seasons.
“Rick McWhorter is a blessing to our program,” Eyestone said. “We are so thankful for the amazing job he does with our pole vault group. We are so thankful to have him as a volunteer assistant. Year after year, he gets his athletes to perform the best when it counts.”
Cameron Bates concluded his 2022-23 track and field season with a 74.71m/245-1 javelin toss to place eighth and earn his second career First Team All-American honors and first since 2021. The performance put Bates in elite company at BYU, making him just the third Cougar to earn multiple All-American honors in the javelin and first since Jari Keihas in 1979 and 1980.
“Cameron was able to come in clutch [at regionals] and make it to the finals,” said BYU assistant throws coach Nik Arrhenius. “He wasn’t able to improve upon that throw so remained in eighth. Coming back from surgery last year and throwing farther than he did at nationals two years ago is a great accomplishment.”
The men’s 4x400m relay team of Trey Jackson, Jace Jensen, Eli Hazlett and Josh Taylor overtook their own school record set in the same location at the Texas Relays on April 1, zipping to a 3:02.92 finish to improve upon their previous record by 0.27 seconds.
Despite the school record, the team placed eight spots out of qualifying position at 17th. Each relay squad member earned All-American Honorable Mention honors.
“We came up short of getting to the final round, but I’m proud of everyone,” said Taylor. “This is just a stepping stone to the future.”
After three events in the decathlon and sophomore Ben Barton in 12th with 2,419 points, he gained momentum in the high jump, finishing third at 2.01m/6-7 to move up to eighth overall. He was one of only four decathletes to clear two meters in the high jump on Wednesday, finishing behind only national frontrunners Kyle Garland of Georgia and Texas’s Leo Neugebeaur.
In the fifth and final event for Wednesday, Barton placed second at 46.88 in the 400-meters to maintain his eighth-place status among 24 athletes heading into the final five events on Thursday.
Kenneth Rooks easily advanced to Friday’s 3,000-meter steeplechase final as he ran 8:35.79 to take third in the semifinal.
“Kenneth ran a very smart, controlled race and looked good with his finish,” Eyestone said.
Rooks was preceded across the finish by Abdelhakim Abouzouhir of Eastern Kentucky and Minnesota’s Matthew Wilkinson. Duncan Hamilton of Montana State moved on to Friday as well, finishing sixth with a time of 8:38.07.
Rooks and Hamilton will face-off in Friday’s 3,000m steeplechase final at 8:24 p.m. PDT.
Barton continues decathlon competition on Thursday at 12 p.m. CDT. The remainder of men’s events get underway on Friday beginning at 7:35 p.m. with Dallin Shurts in the discus final.
11 men to compete at outdoor track and field championships
PROVO, Utah - No. 14 BYU men's track and field will have 11 athletes compete in eight events at this week's NCAA Division I Track and Field Championships at Mike A. Myer's Track Stadium in Austin, Texas June 7-10.
See MEET CENTRAL for a comprehensive BYU event schedule, live stream links and results.
- Dates: June 7-10
- Host: Texas
- Venue: Mike A. Myer's Track Stadium // Austin, Texas
- Men's Events: June 7, 8*, 9
- Women's Events: June 8, 10
- Live Results
Casey Clinger // 6'0, Sr. // American Fork, Utah // American Fork High School
|10,000m||Wednesday, June 7||9:08 p.m. CDT||ESPN2|
Clinger is the only Cougar to qualify in two events: the 10,000-meters and 5,000-meters. He enters nationals seeking his sixth career All-American honor, fresh off two First Team awards at the 2023 NCAA Indoor Championships in March. The senior's highest outdoor nationals placement is 10th, recorded at the 2022 outdoor championship 5,000m where he crossed the line at 13:33.20.
At this year's NCAA West Preliminaries, Clinger placed ninth in the 10,000m at 28:23.41 while taking eighth in the 5,000m with a 13:36.27 performance.
The distance runner currently holds three outdoor top-10 slots in BYU history. He is the school record holder in the 5,000m (13:23.33, 2022) and No. 5 all-time in both the 1500m (3:38.16, 2021) and 10,000m (28:01.67, 2023). His No. 5 all-time 10,000m race came this season at the Bryan Clay Invitational.
Clinger is a business management major and served a full-time mission with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Sapporo, Japan (2019-20). He is married to former BYU women's volleyball libero, Morgan Bower Clinger.
Caleb Witsken // 6'3, Sr. // Logandale, Nevada // Moapa Valley High School
|Pole Vault||Wednesday, June 7||6:30 p.m. CDT||ESPN+|
Witsken enters this week's pole vault final with hopes of a fifth career All-American honor across indoor and outdoor seasons. The senior appeared in last year's outdoor nationals in Eugene, Oregon, placing 10th with a clearance of 5.45m/17-10.5 for Second Team All-American honors. Just this year, he earned First Team All-American honors in March for his sixth-place 2023 NCAA Indoor Nationals finish.
At this year's NCAA West Preliminaries, Witsken placed seventh at 5.40m/17-8.5. Currently ranked No. 15 nationally among pole vaulters, the senior will aim to continue some Texas magic as his season-best clearance of 5.51m/18-1 took place at the 95th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays on April 1.
Witsken is No. 3 all-time at BYU in the pole vault (5.56m/18-3, 2022). His appearance marks the third straight year that the Cougars have had a pole vaulter at outdoor nationals.
The exercise science major served a full-time mission with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Medellin, Columbia (2015-17). He is married to Alaina Witsken.
Kenneth Rooks // 5'10, Jr. // Walla Walla, Washington // College Place High School
|3,000m steeplechase||Wednesday, June 7||7:02 p.m. CDT||ESPN2|
Rooks will race in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, entering the competition ranked No. 2 in the country. His second all-time steeplechase finish in NCAA history on May 6 (8:17.62) was narrowly surpassed by Montana State's Duncan Hamilton at May's NCAA West Preliminaries after Hamilton clocked a time of 8:16.23. Rooks ran 8:25.05 to punch his ticket to the national meet.
The junior is the BYU school record-holder in the steeplechase after his May 6 performance surpassed Henry Marsh's 46 year-old record by four seconds. Rooks seeks his third First Team All-American honor and fourth career All-American award. He is the only 2019 BYU All-American that will be competing at this year's nationals for the Cougars.
The civil engineering major served a full-time mission with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Kampala, Uganda and Orem, Utah (2019-21).
Josh Taylor // 6'0, So. // Richfield, Utah // Skyridge High School
Eli Hazlett // 6'1, So. // Moab, Utah // Grand County High School
Jace Jensen // 6'0, So. // Bountiful, Utah // Bountiful High School
Landon Maxfield // 5'10, Jr. // Sandy, Utah // Alta High School
|4x400m Semifinal||Wednesday, June 7||9:48 p.m. CDT||ESPN2|
|4x400m Final (If qualified)||Friday, June 9||10:21 p.m. CDT||ESPN2|
Taylor, Hazlett, Jensen and Maxfield are set to race as members of the 4x400-meter squad. Maxfield brings valuable experience at the highest collegiate stage, with three outdoor relay All-American honors under his belt, including Second Team 4x400m honors in 2021.
No stranger to success in Texas, the 4x400m A-squad blazed to a school-record, 3:03.19 finish at the Texas Relays on April 1. That time currently stands at No. 13 in the nation.
At last month's NCAA West Preliminaries, the squad qualified with a No. 3 all-time BYU showing (3:06.16) to place ninth. With the finish, the squad became the sixth 4x400m relay squad at BYU to reach NCAA nationals since 2010.
Ben Barton // 6'4, So. // Birmingham, Michigan // Birmingham Seaholm High School
All times central.
|Dec. 100m||Wednesday, June 7||2:30 p.m.||ESPN+|
|Dec. Long Jump||Wednesday, June 7||3:10 p.m.||ESPN+|
|Dec. Shot Put||Wednesday, June 7||4:25 p.m.||ESPN+|
|Dec. High Jump||Wednesday, June 7||5:40 p.m.||ESPN+|
|Dec. 400m||Wednesday, June 7||8:56 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Dec. 110m Hurdles||Thursday, June 8||12:00 p.m.||ESPN+|
|Dec. Discus Throw||Thursday, June 8||12:50 p.m.||ESPN+|
|Dec. Pole Vault||Thursday, June 8||2:00 p.m.||ESPN+|
|Dec. Javelin Throw||Thursday, June 8||4:30 p.m.||ESPN+|
|Dec. 1500m (Final)||Thursday, June 8||9:56 p.m.||ESPN2|
Barton will compete at NCAA nationals for the first time in his career, having solidified his decathlon qualifying status on May 12-13 at BYU's Last Chance Invite when he posted a total of 7,734 points. The score was good for No. 6 all-time at BYU.
Barton did not compete at the NCAA West Preliminaries, as qualifying decathletes (top 24) automatically advance to nationals. He extends the Cougars' streak of decathlon entries at outdoor nationals to seven consecutive years.
The sophomore competed for the Cougars this year for the first time since 2019, shattering personal records in nine of 10 events. The multi-athlete served a full-time mission with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Reno, Nevada and Hungary (2020-22).
Cameron Bates // 6'2, Jr. // Spanish Fork, Utah // Maple Mountain High School
|Javelin||Wednesday, June 7||5:30 p.m. CDT||ESPN+|
Bates returns to outdoor nationals for the second time and first since 2021, having earned First Team All-American honors at his first appearance. Standing alone atop the BYU record books in the event (77.17m/253-2, 2021), Bates is ranked No. 7 in the country this season after a toss that measured 76.07m/249-7 on March 31 at the Texas Relays. He joins several other Cougars who come to nationals having earned their season-best mark or time in Austin.
At this year's NCAA West Preliminaries, the junior placed sixth with a toss of 70.89m/232-7. Entering Wednesday's competition, he is among twelve Cougars to have been named an All-American in the javelin in BYU history. He aims to become just the third Cougar to earn multiple All-American honors in the javelin and first since 1979-80 (Jari Keihas).
The physical education and coaching major served a full-time mission with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Lima, Peru. He is married to Emily Bates.
Brandon Garnica // 5'6, Sr. // Springville, Utah // Springville High School
|10,000m||Wednesday, June 7||9:08 p.m. CDT||ESPN2|
Garnica is back at nationals for the second year in a row after having earned Second Team All-American honors in the 10,000-meters in 2022. Ranked No. 11 in the nation, he owns a season-best time of 28:04.62 set on April 13 at the Bryan Clay Invitational. The senior has recorded two BYU top-10 performances in his career, including a No. 7 all-time run in the 10,000m.
Garnica clocked a 28:24.05 10,000m run at the NCAA West Preliminary round last month to place 10th. He and fellow qualifier Casey Clinger finished within a second of each other. The pair continue the program's streak to 10 consecutive years with a 10,000m qualifier at outdoor nationals.
The electrical engineering major has been a member of BYU track and field since 2019.
Dallin Shurts // 6'6, Sr. // Banks, Oregon // Banks High School
|Discus Throw||Friday, June 9||7:35 p.m. CDT||ESPN2|
Shurts is set to compete in his second NCAA nationals appearance. The senior discus thrower last competed in 2021, earning Second Team All-American honors. At No. 8 in the country, he joins Rooks, Bates and Clinger as the four Cougars entering nationals ranked in the top 10 of their respective events.
His season-best also came at the Texas Relays with a toss a 62.21m/204-1. At May's NCAA West Preliminaries, Shurts tossed a 58.20m/190-11 to place eighth. He aims to break his career-best toss of 62.32m/204-5 (No. 6 all-time at BYU) set at last year's USATF Championships.
The molecular biology major served a full-time mission with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
National Entry Standings
BYU's 17 combined men's and women's entries are tied for 13th nationally with Oklahoma, making the program one of just 16 programs with 15 or more combined entries.
|National Entries for NCAA Outdoor Nationals (Men + Women)|
|No. 6||Texas A&M||23|
|No. 11||Texas Tech||18|
|No. 15||Ohio State||16|
The Cougars nine men's entries are tied for ninth nationally with Kansas, Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, and USC. The men's team is one of 15 teams with nine or more men's entries.
|National Entries for NCAA Outdoor Nationals (Men)|
|No. 5||Texas Tech||12|
Among 2023-24 Big 12 teams, only Texas Tech (12) and Texas (10) have more men's entries than BYU's nine.