Entering NCAA Regionals, BYU Men Ranked Fourth Nationally; Women Ranked 10th
Pre-nationals to be held May 30-31.
May 29, 2003
PROVO, Utah - The BYU men's and women's track & field teams will travel to Stanford, Calif. this weekend to participate in the NCAA West Regionals, hosted by Stanford University. The pre-national event will take place Friday, May 30 through Saturday, May 31.
After winning its 21st straight league outdoor track & field championships, including its fourth straight Mountain West Conference title, the BYU men's track & field team improved its national power ranking to No. 4 and will send 34 athletes to the competition, one of the largest team contingents at the meet.
"There will be around 60 teams there this weekend," head men's coach Mark Robison said. "We'll have 34 guys there, which will make us one of the largest teams in the competition. Coming off a strong showing at our conference meet, we're fired up. This is a tough field."
Following a second-place finish (behind San Diego State) at the MWC Championships, the BYU women are ranked 10th nationally, ahead of 11th-ranked SDSU. The BYU women's team will send 21 athletes to the West Regionals this weekend.
"This meet is a new concept, as far as qualifying for Nationals," head women's coach Craig Poole said. "There will be a team champion, trophies for the first three or four teams, and most importantly, the top-five finishers in each event advance to nationals. An athlete may be favored in an event, but he or she is going to have to compete in order to move on to nationals.
"We like this concept. We think it is going to create a more competitive environment for spectators, and will generate more interest in the sport. In addition, it is going to make coaches think twice about how they place people in certain events. Anything can happen at these meets. There will be those Cinderella stories that everyone loves."
On the men's side, sophomore Kip Kangogo will enter the 1,500-meter race with the nation's fastest time.
"Kip has a very good shot at winning," Robison said. "He's a special athlete. He's only been running for three years, and is so talented. With his time, he will advance to Nationals, but there is no chance of him sandbagging this weekend. He wants to win."
Robison said Aron Szmuda has a good chance of winning the triple jump, while Greg Flint will push for a shot at the 400-meter hurdles championship. Robison also said the 4x400-meter relay team has a chance of advancing to Nationals, marking the first time in over 30 years BYU has qualified a 4x400-meter relay team for the NCAA National Championships.
In the women's competition, all eyes will be on Kassie Anderson, Lisa Antonelli, Nan Kennard, Shalice Pugmire and Kristy Barrus as the five attempt to continue BYU's national dominance in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Antonelli enters the race ranked second in the nation with a time of 9:58.50.
BYU will also look to rack up points in the 5,000- and 1,500-meter events. Three Cougars will compete in the 5,000 M, led by eighth-ranked Kristen Ogden. All three competitors are ranked among the top-15 in the nation.