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ALBUQUERQUE – Senior Diane Stewart set an American record in the indoor 400-meter hurdles to lead to BYU women’s track and field team at the New Mexico Cherry and Silver Invitational on Saturday.
“This was the first time in history that the indoor 400-meter hurdles has been ever been officially run in the United States,” assistant coach Corey Murdock said. “It was a unique opportunity for our athletes. Diane (Stewart) won the event and will therefore be the American record holder until the race is contested by professionals on this track in a few weeks.”
Stewart finished the race in 1:01.21 to set the record. By winning the event, she became the first ever American runner to complete an official indoor 400m-hurdle race. The event is typically run during the outdoor season.
Teammate Angela Shields finished just behind Stewart in the event. Shields crossed the line in 1:01.83 to take second.
"We had a great meet today," head coach Patrick Shane said. "We had great performances in the pole vault and high jump but the 400m-hurdles was the highlight of the meet."
Senior Christen Guenther took first in the pole vault with a jump of 4.05m (13-03.50), her second-best mark of the season. Guenther’s nearest competitor was teammate Nicole Naatjes, a freshman, who took second by clearing 3.75m (12-03.50).
Sophomore Elizabeth Portanova also competed in the pole vault and took seventh with a mark of 3.60m (11-09.75).
The high jump was another top event for the Cougars this weekend as senior Diana Blauer nabbed second place with a season best jump of 1.73m (5-08.00). Teammates Ada Robinson, Taylor Stapley and Sarah Vaughn all tied for third by clearing 1.68m (5-06.00).
On the track, Andrea Nelson led the Cougars with a season best performance in the 3000-meters with a 10:24.03 fifth-place finish. Trailing Nelson was teammate Katherine Swanson, who finished ninth in 10:31.79.
Also managing a fifth-place finish was Amy Thornton, who ran her second best time of the year in the 800m by finishing in 2:17.64.
Stewart and Shields were also a part of the BYU 4x400m team, which also featured Kaisa Rosenberg and Danielle Figgins. The four runners combined for a time of 3:52.53, good enough for a seventh-place finish.
Senior Fatima Makakala, competing for the first time in 2012, led the Cougars in the sprints with a 10th place finish in the 60m hurdles. Makakala crossed the line in 8.77 seconds.
BYU will continue its season on January 27-28 at both the Washington Invitational and the Air Force Team Challenge. Distance runners will primarily compete in Washington, while sprinters and jumpers will head to Air Force.
CLICK HERE for full results from the meet.
Cherry and Silver Invite Up Next
PROVO, Utah – The third week of the 2012 track and field season will get underway on Friday as the BYU men’s and women’s teams head to New Mexico to compete in the annual Cherry and Silver Invitational.
Both teams had strong individual performances last week at the Blue and Orange Opener in Boise and hope to build on those marks in New Mexico.
Several new athletes will open their seasons this weekend, including senior Fatima Makakala on the women’s side and sprinter Steven Hart on the men’s team. A few distance runners, including national champions Lacey Bleazard and Miles Batty, will not open their seasons until later in the year.
The competition at the meet will be the toughest the Cougars have faced this season. Strong teams from California, Colorado State, New Mexico, Portland State, Tulane, Utah State, UTEP and Washington State will be in attendance. Several professional athletes will also be competing at the meet.
Competition will begin Friday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. MST with the men’s pole vault. The pole vault, weight throw, long jump and high jump will be the only events contested Friday. On Saturday, competition will open at 9:00 a.m. and will conclude at 4:20 p.m. with the women’s 4x400m relay.