COLLEGE STATION -- True freshman Lacey Cramer secured BYU’s second national championship in as many days with her first-place finish in the 800-meter race at the NCAA Indoor Championship in College Station, Texas on Saturday.
Cramer and junior Amy Menlove, who won the pentathalon national championship on Friday, became the first duo to claim two national titles for BYU at a single meet. Their wins secured a No. 3 final national ranking for the Cougars, a notable move up from last week’s No. 19 ranking.
“It was an incredible meet,” said BYU women’s head track and field coach Craig Poole. “This is great for our program. I couldn’t be happier for our athletes. They were so impressive all weekend long.”
With 33 meet points the 2009 women’s track team solidified itself as the best indoor team in school history. Its No. 3 final ranking marks the highest ever achieved by a BYU team, with the previous program high of No. 4 coming in 1970 and 1981.
Cramer’s 800-meter run also marks the school’s first national championship in that event. Her time of 2:04.27 was good enough to upset the nations top-seed Phoebe Wright of Tennessee, last year’s champion LaTiva Thomas of LSU and the 2006 champion Heather Dorniden of Minnesota.
“It was probably the most exciting race of the meet,” said BYU distance coach Patrick Shane.
Cramer, who sat in fourth heading into the final turn, took advantage of a gap on the inside lane and made a final push for the finish line. Cramer used all of her 5-7 frame to edge out Wright, who finished .11 seconds behind the Cedar Hills, Utah native.
“There was plenty of contact throughout the race and Lacey just stayed patient and smart,” Shane said. “National champions are incredibly rare and freshmen national champions are almost unheard of. Her performance yesterday and her title run today were phenomenal.”
Cramer set the 800-meter school and Mountain West Conference record on Friday and capped off her weekend with a national championship that earned BYU 10 meet points. Cramer is the first Cougar to win a national championship as a freshman.
“It was crazy,” Cramer said. “I wasn’t expecting to win it, but the first lane opened up in the last 100-meters and I went for it. It was an incredible race.”
Also earning All-America honors on Saturday was sophomore standout Katie Palmer, who finished fourth in the 800-meter event. Palmer’s time of 2:04.75 secured the Cougars five points. Palmer also finished ahead of last year’s champion Thomas, who took fifth in a time of 2:04.89.
“Katie ran her heart out and I’m incredibly proud of her,” Shane said. “What is really great is all of these athletes will be back next year. I think BYU can really make a statement in the next two years.”
The Cougars return home to begin preparation for the outdoor season. Its first meet will be the ASU Invitational in Tempe, Ariz. on March 20.
Women's Team Scores
1. Tennessee 42.00 SEC
2. Texas A&M 37.00 Big 12
3. BYU 33.00 Mountain West
4. Texas 31.00 Big 12
5. Arizona State 30.00 Pac-10
6. LSU 28.00 SEC
7. Penn State 24.00 Big Ten
8. Florida State 23.00 ACC
9. Texas Tech 21.00 Big 12
9. Oregon 21.00 Pac-10
11. Michigan 19.00 Big Ten
12. Minnesota 14.00 Big Ten
12. Florida 14.00 SEC
12. Stanford 14.00 Pac-10
12. Miami (Fla.) 14.00 ACC
12. North Carolina 14.00 ACC
12. South Carolina 14.00 SEC
18. Arizona 13.00 Pac-10
19. Boise State 12.00 WAC
20. Cornell 11.00 Ivy
20. Arkansas 11.00 SEC
22. TCU 10.00 Mountain West
22. Indiana State 10.00 Mo. Valley
22. Colorado 10.00 Big 12
22. Hampton 10.00 Mid-Eastern
22. Louisville 10.00 BIG EAST
27. Iowa 9.00 Big Ten
27. Illinois 9.00 Big Ten
29. Nebraska 8.50 Big 12
30. Villanova 8.00 BIG EAST
30. Western Kentucky 8.00 Sun Belt
30. Middle Tennessee ST. 8.00 Sun Belt
30. Akron 8.00 Mid-American
Indoor Nationals on the Horizon
PROVO -- Twelve athletes from the BYU men’s and women’s track teams will compete at the NCAA Division I Indoor Championships in College Station, Texas this weekend.
The No. 19 women’s track team will compete in five events at this year’s championship meet. The Cougars, who competed in one event last year, will send seven athletes including an alternate to this year’s nationals.
“I’m very optimistic about this weekend,” BYU women’s head coach Craig Poole said. “This is going to be one of the toughest meets they have ever been in, but I’m confident in our athletes abilities.”
Junior Amy Menlove will look to become a two-time All-American in both the long jump and pentathlon. Prior to her LDS mission, Menlove received All-America honors in 2005 with a second-place finish in the pentathlon and a third-place finish in the long jump.
“Amy’s workload is going to be difficult,” Poole said. “An hour after she completes the pentathlon, she will have to compete in the long jump. But she is a great competitor and I think she can handle it.”
Also competing this weekend for the Cougars is the nations No. 2 ranked distance medley relay team.
“We have a great DMR team,” said BYU distance coach Patrick Shane. “We have finished second several times and I think this year we have an opportunity to win a national championship. It will be tough, considering how good Tennessee and the rest of the competition is, but I believe we are right there.”
This season’s team of Katie Palmer and Angela Wagner, who were on last year’s All-America DMR team, joined up with freshmen sisters Natalie and Nachelle Stewart to break a Mountain West Conference and BYU DMR record in a time of 11:04.91.
“We are capable of breaking eleven minutes,” Shane said. “Katie Palmer, Angela Wagner, Lacey Cramer and Nachelle Stewart are all incredible competitors and give us a great chance to win.”
Palmer will pull double duty this weekend, coupling the DMR race with an 800-meter performance. Palmer, a standout middle distance runner, ranks second on the MWC and BYU All-Time 800-meter list—a record she earned this year at the New Balance Invitational in New York.
Also competing in the 800-meter event will be Lacey Cramer. Cramer, one of the country’s top freshmen, is aiming to cap-off her indoor campaign with an All-America performance this weekend. Cramer owns the BYU and MWC record in the 800-meter event. Cramer broke both records one week after Palmer had set them in New York.
The BYU men’s track team will also look to score well at this year’s nationals.
“This is going to be a very fun and very exciting weekend for our team,” said BYU men’s track and field head coach Mark Robision. “All of our athletes have high chances of becoming All-Americans. I expect the DMR team to run very well. That should be an incredible race.”
The men’s team will be competing in the distance medley relay, pole vault and weight throw events.
Representing BYU, and ranked fifth nationally with a time of 9:29.97, the DMR team is made up of senior All-Americans Jacob Gustafsson, Keith Jensen, Kyle Perry and junior Kevin Biesinger.
Also ranked fifth nationally in the pole vault is senior All-American Robert Low. Low is currently in a three-way tie for fifth place with a height of 5.45 meters.
Rounding up the field events for the Cougars is junior All-American Leif Arrhenius in the weight throw. Arrhenius is ranked 12th nationally with a distance of 20.82 meters.
Events begin Friday at 10 a.m. CT with the combined events. Running events are scheduled to begin at 3:55 p.m. and go until 9:35 p.m. CT, while the field events will begin at 4 p.m. and go until 6:50 p.m.