By MELANIE BRIDGE
While some students on campus are sitting in the testing center taking their big tests, the BYU women’s track team will travel to Louisiana State Saturday to face their big test. The LSU meet will be scored and includes teams that have typically dominated in track.
“It’s a big opportunity to meet a team that’s been national champions for 10 years,” said head coach Craig Poole.
According to Trackwire Magazine, this year LSU has dropped to a fifth-place ranking with 42 points. Also at the meet will be fourth-ranked Southern Methodist with 49 points, and Tennessee who was ranked until last weekend when it dropped out of the top 25.
BYU has moved up from fourth to second. It earned 66 points and trails Texas by only five points. The ranking is based on the strong performances of the Cougars at the Cougar Invitational last weekend. If the distance team can qualify some runners, BYU has a good chance to take over the number one spot.
“We have everything to gain and nothing to lose (at this meet),” Poole said.
“In this meet depth is important because each team can only score points for two athletes in each event,” said senior Becky Jackson. “To win, a team must enter every event and do well in those events.”
Jill Ruddman usually runs the 400-meter hurdles, but at LSU she’ll be doing pole vault for the first time this season. She is entering the pole vault so BYU can score points for two finishes instead of just one.
“I did a little bit last year, but I injured my shoulder so I decided to concentrate on the hurdles,” Ruddman said. “This year I decided to just concentrate on the hurdles until coach (Poole) started looking at the points, and he wants to win this meet.”
Another plus to running at LSU is the weather. Cold weather has plagued the Cougar track team all season and putting up good marks in the cold is very difficult. Jumper Kristel Berendsen is excited to run at LSU because she thinks it’s too cold here.
BYU already has some automatic and several provisional qualifiers for the national championships. Amy Palmer set an American and collegiate record when she qualified in the hammer throw. She also qualified in the shot put and has a provisional mark in the discus. For her performance she was named this week’s Trackwire Magazine athlete of the week.
While the main team is at LSU, the distance runners will travel to the Mt. Sac relays in California to compete on Friday and Saturday.
“It is a very good meet, there’s so many people they just get sucked along and it moves fast,” Poole said.
After competing at LSU, the team will return home for their second of three home meets. The Robinson Invitational will be held on the outdoor track April 23 through April 25.