BYU’s track and field team is really going the distance this season. Not only did Miles Batty break the collegiate mile two weeks ago but for the first time in history the team is competing in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championship this weekend in Washington. Stepping out of the Mountain West Conference into the arena with the Pac 12 and Big West, the Cougars are entering the unknown.
“Our theme this year is vision,” men’s head coach Mark Robison said. “We’ve had to look outside the box and we’ve had to look to the future and say, we’re some place we’ve never been before.”
[pullquote]”We’ve had to look outside the box and we’ve had to look to the future and say, we’re some place we’ve never been before.”[/pullquote]
BYU competed in the WAC in the 1980s and then moved to the Mountain West in 1999. After 12 conference title wins for men and 10 for the women, this is the first year they will compete with this level of competition.
“It will be probably the highest level of competition we’ve ever had for a conference meet,” Robison said. “Can we compete with the teams? Yeah.”
Schools like Oregon, the women’s back-to back NCAA champion, and Stanford, men’s 2011 champion, will be present. Of the 14 women’s teams, six are currently ranked in the top 25, and four men’s teams rank in the top 20.
“We are excited to challenge ourselves in this competitive conference,” women’s head coach Patrick Shane said.
This conference is also different than other conferences because there will be no trials before the finals; the athletes get one chance to compete. The heats will be set up by the previous marks, the faster mark the faster the heat.
“It’s good because most of the time when we have come to the conference before, we have really killed the kids,” Robison said. “Between trials and finals, mulitiple events, and relays we run the kids sometimes three, four, five times in two days. This one, it will be half that.”
The stakes are high for the athletes for this is the last opportunity to qualify for nationals in two weeks. Luckily, they have had a week off, the only one of the year, to rest and physically prepare for this weekend to perform at their best.
“We are the most healthy we have been all year,” Robison said.
Hoping to qualify for nationals in the men’s distance medley relay and improve a few individual performances, the Cougars are prepared to compete.
“There’s nobody staying home,” Robison said. “This is it for us.”