By DAVE HERSAM
Friday and Saturday in Provo were beautiful, sunny days — perfect for being outside to run around, jump, pole vault, or throw a heavy metal ball, discuss or hammer. BYU’s men’s track team took advantage of the good weather and home meet by having some great individual performances and winning the Cougar Invitational.
The Cougar men earned a total of 259 points, easily topping the competition. Weber State placed second with 144 points, Utah State had 106 and then came Northern Colorado (64), Wyoming and Ricks (55), UVSC (17) and Utah (16).
Individual winners for the Cougars included freshmen Mao Tjiroze in the 800-meter run (1:49.88), Othello Richards in the 400 meters (47.34) and Kenneth Andam in the 200 meters (20.92). Leonard Myles-Mills’ time of 10.32 seconds in the 100 meters is an NCAA provisionally qualifying time, and Marc Chenn won the high jump with an NCAA provisional height and personal best of 7 feet, 3.75 inches.
The BYU 4 x 100 and 4 x 400-meter relay teams also won.
Head coach Willard Hirschi said the team ran extremely well and was very grateful for the good weather.
“When we schedule a home meet, we kind of expect a tornado or something,” Hirschi said. “We were really happy to get the great weather we did.”
A lot of Cougar athletes were happy to compete on their own track under sunny skies and in front of a friendly crowd. Tjiroze said a home meet doesn’t include the anxiety and stress of traveling and staying in a hotel.
“You’re more relaxed at home and you can run easy,” he said.
Fellow freshman Richards said the overall running conditions were the best the team has had yet this season.
“We’ve got a world class track, and about half my ward was here cheering for me,” Richards said. “I think my last 100 meters of the 400 are my best anyway, so having them cheer me down the home stretch really helped me win.”
Richards had not been able to practice recently because of a groin injury, and Tjiroze just arrived in January from Windhoek, Namibia. Both admit to not being in the shape they’d like to be. Richards said he surprised himself by winning the 400 meters and thought he surprised his coach.
Hirschi said the wins by Tjiroze and Richards didn’t surprise him and only showed their great talent and potential. He said he expects each of them to still get a lot better.
Chenn said being at home helped the team do well as did having last weekend off. A recently returned missionary looking to regain his pre-mission form, Chenn has been suffering shin splints, which he said is not uncommon for returned missionaries.
Last weekend’s meet at Utah State was cancelled by the host, and only hammer-thrower Doug Bryant traveled with the women’s team to the Texas meet in Austin.
Myles-Mills, who was honored last week as the Western Athletic Conference male athlete of the week, said he still has room to improve on his times. One aspect of the race he said he’s working on with his coaches is his starts off the blocks.
The Cougar men’s cross country team, many of whom run long distance on the track team, was just named second in the nation academically with a 3.43 combined grade point average. Southern Utah University finished first with a 3.55 GPA.
BYU will next send squads to the Mt. SAC relays in Walnut, Calif., and the LSU Invitational in Baton Rouge, La.