National Championships Well-Done By Cougars
FAYETTEVILLE -- Cougar blue shown through with a top-15 finish at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships Saturday. The men competed in just three events but managed 16 points with two seconds and one 12th-place finish.
"I'm extremely pleased with how well we performed," Coach Mark Robison said. "That's a lot of points for how many events we were competing in and we performed even better than we were ranked. I feel great about it."
The Cougars couldn't have hoped for a better outcome to Friday's competition. The men's distance medley relay fought their way to a second-place finish, less than a second behind Arkansas. Sophomore Jacob Gustafsson got things off on the right foot, then hurdler Ben Gardner took the 400-meter leg and Jason Dorais in the 800 meters. When Josh McAdams stepped up as the 1600-meter anchor leg, everything went right for the team. McAdams wrapped things up with a time of 9:37.92, passing teams and keeping pace for a lose-your-voice-screaming photo finish.
"It's such a thrill to do as well as we did at a national competition," McAdams said. " It took a lot of determination and hard work, but in the end everyone just did their part and did it well."
Dorais and McAdams are veterans in the event, taking seventh at these championships last year. This particular team qualified for nationals one week ago with a time of 9:33.77, just short of a record set by last year's team of 9:33.70. That time was the third-fastest time in the nation going into this week's championships.
Pole vaulter Robbie Pratt also put up eight points for the team with his second-place finish Friday. Going into the championships, Pratt was 1/4 inch behind Oregon's Thomas Skipper. The pair pushed each other to greater heights and each cleared a final height of 18 feet 6.5 inches, an NCAA personal best for Pratt. Skipper cleared the height in less attempts than Pratt, earning himself the national title.
"It was a classic battle between the two best pole vaulters in the country and Robbie came up second but with a great height," pole vault coach Larry Berryhill said. "When you have two national champions competing against each other, that's pretty intense."
Pratt, the reigning outdoor national champion, took sixth at these championships last year. He was most recently crowned as the Mountain West Conference Indoor Champion. His current personal best is 18 feet 8.5 inches, which was set earlier this season at a non-NCAA sanctioned meet.
David Pendergrass took his turn in the high jump Saturday, finishing 12th with a height of 6 feet 11.75 inches in front of a massive track and field crowd of 5,596. Pendergrass is a four-time Mountain West Conference champion. He also took the MWC title in the triple jump this season. He set a personal best of 7 feet 2.75 inches earlier this year, the sixth-highest height of all-time at BYU.
Indoor nationals were the culmination of the indoor track and field season. The Cougars will now jump right into the outdoor season beginning next week. For more information about the BYU track and field program, please visit their web sites at www.byucougars.com or www.byutrack.com.
Next Stop: National Championships
PROVO (March, 7, 2006) -- The top provisional qualifiers have been announced and six Cougar men will join the finest collegiate athletes in the nation for the Indoor National Track and Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. beginning Friday.
"I'm ecstatic to go to nationals," Coach Mark Robison said. "Everyone has a chance to become an All-American out of the group that's going and I think we're going to see some good things."
The first to compete for BYU is pole vaulting sensation Robbie Pratt, the lone Cougar to automatically qualify for nationals. Pratt recently brought home the title at the Mountain West Conference Indoor Championships with a vault of 18 feet 4.5 inches. He has a personal best of 18 feet 8.5 inches and will seek to improve on that at nationals. Pratt's toughest competition should come from Oregon's Thomas Skipper, who is ranked first by 1/4 inch ahead of Pratt going into the championships.
Recent MWC high jump and triple jump champion David Pendergrass will strut his high jump skills on Saturday afternoon. Pendergrass has a personal-best of 7 feet 2.75 inches.
The distance medley relay team of Jason Dorais, Ben Gardner, Jacob Gustafsson and Josh McAdams will also compete after posting a time of 9:33.77 at the Alex Wilson Last Chance Meet in South Bend, Ind., which put them in their current position as the third-fastest team in the nation. The team may have the opportunity to set a new school record after narrowly missing the current record of 9:33.70 in South Bend.
"I'm very excited for the opportunity that we have to compete for BYU," said Gardner. "We have a good chance of finishing among the top and it'll be great to see the outcome."
Cross Country All-American Chelsea Smith McKell was a top provisional qualifier as well in the 5,000 meters but will not join the men in Arkansas.
So many athletes and so few spaces leave some of the best out of national competition. Several BYU athletes provisionally qualified for nationals but just missed the top spots and will not be performing at the championships. Michelle Lindsay qualified in the 800 meters, Mandy Lonsway on the pole vault and Kamila Rywelska in the triple jump. Qualifying for the men were three freshmen, heptathlete Meelis Kosk, Kyle Perry in the 3,000 meters and Chris Carter in the 400 meters. The men's 4x400 team and high jumper Bryce Bergen also qualified.
The outdoor season will begin immediately following the Indoor National Championships. The Cougars will play host to five outdoor meets, including the MWC Outdoor Championships and the NCAA Regional Championships. For more information about the Cougar track and field program, visit their web sites at www.byucougars.com and www.byutrack.com.