Atop The Podium: Women's track and field wins MPSF
SPOKANE, Wash. — No. 23 BYU women’s track and field won its second straight Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Indoor Championship as it added five individual titles to its resume in competition at The Podium on Saturday.
|2023 MPSF Women's Indoor Track and Field Championships|
|2.||Long Beach State||148.5|
|5.||Cal State Fullerton||56|
Freshman Marianne Barber blew past opponents in route to a 54.98 winning finish in the women’s 400-meters. With the win, Barber became the first BYU woman to win an indoor 400 conference title since Brooke Stanton in 1991.
“Marianne has been phenomenal all season,” said BYU sprints coach Kyle Grossarth. “She came with a great work ethic and has some great teammates with experience that she continues to learn from.”
Brilee Pontius followed close behind Barber, taking second with a personal best 55.04. In doing so, Pontius arrived on the Cougar’s 400 top-10 board, surpassing Holly Gibbons (2000) for 10th all-time and joining teammates Barber, Annalise Hart and Alena Ellsworth on the board.
Barber and Pontius returned to the track in the meet’s final event of the day, the women’s 4x400-meter relay. Together with Meghan Hunter and Sami Oblad, Barber and Pontius guided BYU to a 4x400 championship with a victorious time of 3:43.37. The squad of Halley Folsom Walker, Pontius, Hart and Brinn Jensen won the MPSF title in 2022, making this BYU’s first ever indoor 4x400 conference repeat.
Adaobi Tabugbo continued her 60-meter hurdles dominance with a conference championship time of 8.35.
“Adaobi is a big-time competitor and can just find that extra something when she needs to,” Grossarth said.
BYU Director of Track and Field Ed Eyestone praised Tabugbo as well.
“We can always count on Adaobi,” Eyestone said. “She has such a wonderful start and just blows out of those starting blocks in great form and can’t be checked.”
Tabugbo and Rahni Turner of Long Beach State were neck and neck to the finish with Tabugbo being ruled the winner at 8.343 to Turner’s 8.346. With her performance on Saturday, Tabugbo became BYU’s first to go back-to-back with women’s indoor 60 hurdles conference crowns since Kirsten Bolm in 2000-01.
Heather Hanson and Hunter went one-two in the women’s 800-meter title race. Hanson’s winning 2:08.45 delivered her first-career conference championship and BYU’s third straight in the event. Hunter took home the MPSF’s 800 trophy a season ago, while Anna Camp-Bennett did son in 2020.
BYU throwers controlled the top spots in the women’s shot put on Saturday as well. Gretchen Hoekstre won the event with a throw of 16.24m/53-3.5 and Jessica Thompson finished runner-up at 15.33m/50-3.5. The Cougars now have a second straight MPSF women’s shot put title as Thompson took it home in 2022. BYU hasn’t won back-to-back indoor shot put championships since 1995-96.
BYU’s seven individual titles at the 2023 MPSF Championship meet and 16 over the last two seasons give the program 164 all-time and its most in a two-season stretch since 2004-05.
The Cougars’ team championship marks its first back-to-back conference crowns since 2010-11 and 20th all-time.
2023 marked the Cougars 12th and final season competing in the MPSF. In 2024, BYU will face its first Big 12 Conference Championship. The Big 12 will conduct its 2023 meet at Texas Tech’s Sports Performance Center in Lubbock, Texas on Feb. 24-25.
“Moving into the Big 12 next year, I felt it was important for us to finish off conference championships in style with a victory on both the men’s and women’s side,” Eyestone said. “It shows what we can do when we all work together but from here out the focus is on national qualifiers.”
With one week of competition remaining before NCAA Indoor National Championships, the Cougars have another shot at qualifying times and marks with competition on Feb. 24-25 at home in the Smith Fieldhouse and on the road at Washington’s Ken Shannon Last Chance Invite in Seattle.