WALNUT, Calif. (April 15) - Cougar Susan Taylor posted a blazing 1,500 meter time and freshman Sarah Ellett shaved five more seconds off her qualifying mark in the 10,000 meters as the BYU distance teams continued their preparation for NCAA postseason competition at the Mt. San Antonio College Relays.
Taylor, a senior from Salt Lake City, took second in the 1,500 with a time of 9:16.58, the second-fastest in the nation this season. Her time is also an NCAA automatic qualifying mark and the best by a conference athlete this year by nearly 10 seconds. Ellett, only a freshman, improved her national position in the 10,000 meters with a ninth-place, 35:10.13 finish in the event. The time is an NCAA provisional mark. Teammate Laurel Hildebrandt also provisionally qualified in the 10,000 with a 14th-place finish in 35:24.07.
In other action on the weekend, Nan Evans won her section of the 1,500 meters in 4:33.63 and Amy Curtis took third in the javelin with a toss of 149'-7". Although not officially competing for BYU at the meet, redshirts Kara Ormond and Elizabeth Jackson continued to tune-up for the Olympics in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, finishing first (10:20.66) and second (10:22.55), respectively, in the event. Jackson is the U.S. record-holder in the steeplechase.
On the men's side of things, athletes were spread among three meets on the weekend, including the Mt. SAC Relays, the Mark Faldmo Invitational at Utah State and the Sun Angel Classic at Arizona State. At Mt. SAC, Trevor Pettingill took 13th in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 9:13.28 and John Hedengren finished 16th in the 10,000 meters (30:51.2). In Logan, freshman Cody Fonnesbeck placed second behind former Cougar and future Olympian Leonard Myles-Mills in both the 100- and 200 meters. Fonnesbeck ran a 10.57 in the 100, and his time of 21.42 in the 200 was the fastest on the team this season. Another former Cougar and Olympic hopeful, Alan Gulledge, won the pole vault with a height of 18'-1", followed by Jeremy Kemp in second place (16'-6"). Kyle Grossarth was the Cougars' lone representative in Tempe, competing in the 400-meter hurdles there to avoid conflict with Sunday competition at Mt. SAC. Although his third-place finish and time (52.18) were not season-bests, Grossarth is still ranked fourth nationally in the event.
PROVO, Utah (April 12) - John Hedengren, the Cougars' top distance runner on both the cross country and track teams, was named GTE Academic All-American, while Kirsten Bolm was named Mountain West Conference athlete of the week for her performance at the Texas Relays.
Hedengren was named to the third team for the Fall-Winter season, after earning a cumulative, 3.98 GPA. During the cross country season, he earned the Mountain West Conference Athlete of the Year award for his first-place finish at the conference championship meet in Provo. Hedengren finished first for the Cougars in five of six meets in the fall. He also currently holds team-best marks in both the 5,000- and 10,000 meters, and is the only distance runner on the track team to have qualified for the outdoor nationals. His time of 29:33.44 in the 10,000 is an NCAA provisional time and has him ranked 21st in the country in the event.
At the Texas Relays in Austin, Bolm tied a school record with a leap of 21'-6", claiming a win in the long jump, and automatically qualifying for the NCAA Championships in the event. The mark is the best in the nation this season, and the best in the conference by nearly two and a half feet. Her time of 13.23 in the 100-meter hurdles provisionally qualified her for the NCAAs, and earned her a fourth-place finish.
Both teams will send representatives to the Mt. San Antonio College Relays this weekend in Walnut, Calif. The Mt. SAC Relays has become one of the nation's most competitive events, attracting Olympic-caliber talent from all over the world. The men will send Hedengren and steeplechase specialist Trevor Pettingill to the relays, while 400-meter NCAA qualifier Kyle Grossarth will compete in the Sun Devil Classic in Arizona to avoid conflict with Sunday competition at Mt. SAC. Grossarth is currently ranked No. 4 in the nation in the event.
The men's ranks have been significantly thinned in recent weeks by a rash of injuries. A total of six athletes are out for the season, including All-American pole vaulter Jeff Hansen (shoulder), 800-meter specialist Mao Tjiroze (damaged nerve in leg), sprinter Robert Mugagga (hamstring), high jumper Shae Taylor (broken ankle), steeplechaser Tyler Bushnell (broken arm), and hurdler Trent Ady (broken foot). In addition, All-American shot put specialist Jim Roberts injured his shoulder lifting weights this week, and is out of action indefinitely.
"Our roster is beginning to look like one long list of affliction," said men's head coach Willard Hirschi. "We're beginning to feel like Job with all of the injuries we've been sustaining this weekend. The potential is there, it just hasn't emerged yet."
The much-healthier women's team will be well-represented at Mt. SAC by an impressive number of athletes ranked in the top-20 in their respective events. BYU's strongest event should be the 3,000 meters, where the team has five NCAA qualifiers, including Sharolyn Shields (4th), Laura Heiner (5th), Susan Taylor (7th), Sherida Rogers (14th), and Marty Hernandez (19th). The rest of the distance events are also well-covered, with No. 3-ranked Tara Rohatinsky and No. 4-ranked Hernandez in the 5,000 meters and freshman Sarah Ellett, who is ranked 18th in the 10,000 meters. Also appearing in the top 20 are high jumper Jeana Bingham (7th) and pole-vaulter Becky Jackson (20th).