Cougars Finish Sixth at NCAA Regional Meet
EUGENE -- The final day of the NCAA West Regional meet was a success for the BYU women’s track team, who finished sixth and earned six NCAA automatic qualifying marks on Saturday.
The No. 21 nationally ranked Cougars finished sixth (49 points) out of 27 teams competing at the regional meet. Taking the top five spots were No. 6 Arizona State (95 points), No. 1 Oregon (80.50 points), No. 5 USC (68 points), No. 15 UCLA (64.50 points) and No. 12 Stanford (54 points).
“I’m very happy with how we performed,” said BYU women’s track and field head coach Craig Poole. “BYU was well represented by our entire team throughout the season. You always like to see more advance to nationals, but I think we have very strong and capable athletes going this year.”
Highlighting the Cougar success was All-American Lacey Cramer. Cramer added to her national dominance in the 800-meter event. Cramer, the Indoor 800-meter national champion, secured the Western Region championship in a time of 2:05.63.
“Lacey had a great race,” said BYU women’s distance coach Patrick Shane. “To win a regional title at Hayward Field in front of this crowd is a wonderful experience. I’m very happy for her.”
Cramer’s first-place finish gave BYU ten points and automatically qualified the freshman for the NCAA Championships.
Another freshman who will make her first appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., beginning June 10th is Ada Robinson. Robinson placed fourth in the high jump event with a jump of 5-10.00.
BYU Olympian Ilze Gribule also earned a ticket to nationals with a fourth-place finish in the javelin throw (161-03).
Katie Palmer nearly qualified for the NCAA Championships, taking sixth in the 1,500-meter event with a time of 4:24.66. While the top five finishers automatically qualify for nationals, Palmer can still receive an at-large bid because of an earlier season time of 4:16.44, which ranks 12th in the nation.
“Katie is a great competitor and we expect to see her get an at-large bid to nationals,” Poole said.
For the second time of the day, Palmer found herself on the cusp of automatically qualifying as a member of the 4x400-meter relay team. Palmer, Cramer, Nachelle Stewart and Natalie Stewart took fourth in the event with a time of 3:38.38.
The 4x400-meter relay time ranks second on the BYU all-time records list. The school’s top time came from this same team earlier this season.
Natalie Stewart appeared again in the 400-meter event where she took eighth with a time of 54.78.
Also taking eighth for the Cougars in the 200-meter event was All-American Mindy Neeley-McClurkin. Neeley-McClurkin earned an automatic qualifying mark on Friday in the long jump event and recorded a 24.18 time on Saturday in the 200-meters.
“Now we just have to prepare our athletes for nationals,” Shane said. “I’m looking forward to what we can accomplish at the final meet.”
Six automatic qualifiers on the women’s team will represent the Cougars at the NCAA National Championships, while Palmer and heptathlete All-American Amy Menlove wait until Tuesday for the announcing of the at-large bids.
For results of the NCAA West Regional meet go to http://www.goducks.com/fls/500/track/0809/regional/index.htm?&SPSID=4364&SPID=243&DB_OEM_ID=500.
Regionals on the Horizon
PROVO -- The BYU track and field teams look to enhance their historic 2009 campaign starting with the NCAA West Regional in Eugene, Ore., this weekend.
“This is going to be a great meet,” said BYU women’s head track and field coach Craig Poole. “Our athlete’s are prepared and excited. It will be a good test of our abilities.”
The No. 21 nationally ranked women’s team enters the regional meet with 21 qualifying athletes, while the No. 24 men’s team has qualified 35 athletes.
“We are really excited about this weekend,” said BYU men’s track and field head coach Mark Robison. “Everything to this point has been building up to qualifying for regionals; now regionals is here and we are focusing on qualifying for nationals. Our team has great depth and I this is one of the largest groups of qualifiers we have ever had.”
BYU will face its toughest competition of season when it competes at the world famous Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus. Each Cougar athlete aims to finish in the top five of their entered events, which would automatically qualify them for nationals.
“We’re going into it this meet with the same attitude as we always do,” Poole said. “Our focus will be to take it one athlete at a time and one event at a time.”
The BYU women’s team will look to cap of their track season with another top 5 national ranking. The Cougars ended their indoor season as the No. 3 nationally ranked team, marking the highest finish in school history.
With one of the largest groups BYU has ever had going into regionals, the BYU men’s team looks to improve its 12th-place score from last year.
The two-day meet is scheduled to begin on Friday at 2:40 p.m. PT with the men’s javelin and conclude on Saturday at 4:50 p.m. PT with the men’s 4x400-meter relay.