Cougars give strong showing at NCAA Nationals
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The BYU men’s and women’s track and field teams finished up the final day of competition in the 2017 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships on Saturday.
Over the weekend, the Cougars had eight entries compete. Friday featured Rory Linkletter in the men’s 5000 meters, Abraham Alvarado in the men’s 800 meters, Andrea Stapleton in the women’s high jump, Shea Collinsworth in the preliminaries of the women’s 800 meters, the women’s distance medley relay (DMR) squad, and Kevin Nielsen beginning day one of the heptathlon events. On Saturday, Collinsworth competed in the 800-meter finals, while Clayton Young ran in the men’s 5000 meters, Zachary Blackham participated in the men’s high jump and Nielsen finished up competition in the heptathlon.
“I was pleased with all of our athletes’ performances,” BYU head coach Ed Eyestone said. “We came in with the most individual entries, both men and women combined, that we have in several years. And almost all of our athletes performed better than their ranking coming in, which was a very nice sign for us.”
The women’s team finished 18th overall with a total of 11 points. This is the first time since 2012 that the Cougars have finished in the top 20.
Middle-distance runner Collinsworth passed the 800-meter preliminaries on Friday with a time of 2:05.57 to compete in the Saturday final. In Saturday's final, she surpassed her preliminary time by over three seconds to take third place overall in 2:02.35.
“Shea was really good in a difficult and competitive event, and to get third place is just amazing,” Eyestone said. “The race was very stacked, but she kept cool and battled so well and so bravely.”
Another impressive performance from the Cougar women was the DMR team that finished in fourth place. The team was comprised of Ashleigh Warner (1200 meters), Brenna Porter (400 meters), Kristi Rush (800 meters) and Erica Birk (mile), and they logged a total time of 11:03.42. The four women received All-American honors for their performance. High jumper Andrea Stapleton competed in the finals on Friday to take 13th place overall with a final jump of 1.76m (5’9.25”).
“The strength of the women's performances really impressed me,” Eyestone said. “To have two of your three entries give you a top-20 finish is truly phenomenal.
The BYU men also came and gave solid performances, many of the athletes performing equal to or above their rankings and projected finishes.
On Saturday, High jumper Zach Blackham took 10th overall, equaling his projected finish, with a jump of 2.15m (7’.25”). With the jump, Blackham was named a second-team All-American athlete, joining the women’s DMR team in receiving the All-American honor. And distance runner Clayton Young competed in the men’s 3000 meters and placed ninth overall, only one spot out of receiving All-American honors. He ended with a time of 8:02.11.
On Friday, distance runner Rory Linkletter took 11th place overall in the men’s 5000 meters. He finished with a time of 13:57.62, five spots ahead of his projected 16th place. Abraham Alvarado competed in the preliminaries of the 800 meters also on Friday, and finished only four spots out of qualifying for the finals in 13th place, one spot ahead of his 14th-place ranking. Alvarado recorded a time of 1:49.25. Kevin Nielsen completed the heptathlon on Friday and Saturday, and he finished in 10th place overall with 5630 points. He entered the competition ranked 15th.
“Overall, I am happy with the sheer quantity of athletes that we had here at nationals. Now we just will continue to build on that as we move into outdoor season.”
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