By RACHEL ANDERSON
The fastest man in the nation attends BYU. Leonard Myles-Mills proved himself by running the 100-meter dash in 10.20 seconds at the NCAA track meet in Buffalo, N.Y. Saturday, surpassing all of the media’s expectations.
Also, BYU’s women’s team proved it was focused by placing third in the nation as a team. They displayed elite performance both as a team and as individuals.
According to the women’s head track coach, Craig Poole, it was the highest finish ever for the women’s track and field team.
As for Mills, despite entering the championships with the fastest qualifying time, he was not favored to win.
“I enjoyed being the unknown in the race,” Mills said, “I saw JaWarren (Hooker) run away from me, and like my coach always tells me, stay relaxed, and you are going to do well.”
“It was no surprise to me,” said head coach Willard Hirschi. “He’s an excellent sprinter.”
Hirschi said he thought the other BYU men competitors would make it to the finals as well. Felix Andam ran the 100-meters with a time of 10.43 in the semi-finals, but he cramped up because of the weather.
“If I couldn’t do it, I’m glad my teammate did,” Andam said. “It was pretty amazing.”
The women’s team used a balanced team effort to tie Southern Methodist University for third with 45 points, behind Texas and UCLA.
“There was a job to do,” Poole said. “They did the best job they could do.”
Tiffany Lott was the Cougar’s lone national champion, winning the heptathlon with 5,982 points. Lott won the heptathlon title last year too.
Poole said Lott held the potential to place in the 100-meter hurdles as well, but she did not clear the first hurdle, which hurt her the remainder of the race.
“We had some disappointments, but I was proud of the girl’s efforts,” Pooele said.
Marsha Mark accomplished her goal of making All-American by winning fourth place in the heptathlon with 5,625 points.
“I was happy during the heptathlon,” Mark said. “I competed with three other teammates. We had fun.”
Amy Palmer, the American record holder in the shot put, took second place in the nation with a throw of 63′ 48″. Another second came from Courtney Meldrum in the 3,000-meter run with a time of 9:22.2.
Following Meldrum in the 3,000-meter in 10th place was Elizabeth Jackson with a time of 9:31.25.
“It was an honor for me to run with her,” Jackson said. “My biggest goal was to make it to the finals.”
BYU competitors Jeana McDowell and Lindsay Jones also made it to the finals. McDowell placed 15th in the high jump at 5′ 8″, and Jones placed 12th in the 1,500-meter run with a time of 4:28.53.
BYU’s depth was the factor that led to its third place finishing. Poole’s advice for his women was to have fun, no matter what.
“You worked hard to get here,” Poole told his competitors. “Now go and do it.”
BYU proved its work ethic at the national Wednesday through Saturday, and it will prove it this summer as 12 women and three men travel to Europe to compete.
In another event, BYU’s Marc Chen competed in the high jump but did not clear his opening height of 6′ 11″.
“Marc’s a much better high jumper than that,” Hirschi said. “He did so well at the WAC; he didn’t get focused.”
After months of intense training in the weight room and on the track and after proving their skills at nationals, the track teams had the opportunity to do a little sight seeing as well. They visited Niagara Falls and Palmyra while in New York.
“It was really neat,” Jackson said. “We had time to enjoy the trip, so we weren’t so stressed out.”