cwrubell | Posted: 18 Jan 2017 | Updated: 8 Nov 2020

Cougars look to qualify runners for nationals at Air Force Indoor

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PROVO, Utah - Following a successful indoor season-opening meet, BYU track and field will head to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado to compete in the Air Force Indoor meet starting on Thursday, Jan. 19.

The meet will begin with men’s heptathlon and the women’s pentathlon events on Thursday. Friday will feature continual heptathlon events, as well as trials and finals of several field and track events. Saturday will conclude the meet with additional events, both field and track.

“This is always a great meet for us,” BYU head coach Ed Eyestone said. “We are very familiar with the facility as a staff, and our athletes like it. It should be a good weekend. I think we can continue building on some of the things that happened this last week.”

Eyestone explained that at this week, they will begin to focus on several athletes that have the potential to qualify for the NCAA national meet, which will take place in February. 

“Last week was the rust-buster, coming off a long Christmas break, so I think we had some nice performances, considering that," he said. "But now we are back, we are following the regimen and we are really just looking for improvement. For the guys that are close to qualifying, or are on track to qualify, we are hoping that they get marks that will automatically get them in so they can stop stressing a bit.”

The BYU coaching staff is looking for big meets from sprinter Tatenda Tsumba, who runs the 60 and 200 meters, high jumper Zachary Blackham and multi-event athletes Kevin Nielsen and Jackson Walker.

Tsumba most recently competed in the 2016 Olympic Games in the 200 meters for his native country of Zimbabwe over the summer, and he is hoping to see a similar outstanding performance this weekend in the indoor 200m. 

"We want to see Tatenda improve his 60 meters and really run a fast 200m," Eyestone said. "I think the 200 might be his best event in terms of making it to the national meet." 

Blackham currently sits in seventh place nationally with a 7'2.25" (2.19m) mark, which, in past years, has qualified jumpers for the national meet, but Eyestone anticipates higher marks becoming the status quo in qualifications this year. He hopes Blackham will use this meet to improve his mark.  

Despite competing in the heptathlon and giving a very controlled performances last week, both Nielsen and Walker will be looking to improve their scores of 5525 and 4414, respectively, to qualify for nationals, with both men’s sights set on a score of 5611.

On the women’s side, high jumper Andrea Stapleton set a new personal record at last weekend’s meet of 5’10.75”, but is also looking to improve, gaining another inch or so on her jumps.

“Andrea Stapleton is right on the borderline of making it in, so if she can get up to six feet, that will ensure here getting there,” Eyestone said. “Traditionally jumpers have done well there.”

Likewise, pole vaulter Kylee Trageser, who currently sits in 29th place nationally with a mark of 13'0.25" (3.97m), will be aiming for a consistent outing at the Air Force Indoor meet and a vault that will put her in the 4.25 range so as to qualify for nationals.  

Due to extreme altitude, BYU’s men’s and women’s distance runners will not be competing in the meet but will return to the track on Jan. 26, at the Washington Invitational.

For a full schedule of events for the Air Force Indoor meet, click here. Follow along for live updates on BYU Track and Field’s official Twitter, @BYUTFXC.  

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