By Jay Dresser
The Weber Invitational, Saturday, Jan. 12, proved to be a successful start to a promising season for the men”s track and field team.
For the first time this year, several members of the team were able to showcase their athleticism, speed and strength to coaches, fans and themselves in actual competition.
In-state rivals University of Utah and Weber State were the other teams in the competition on Saturday afternoon.
“It was a low-key meet, a good way to start,” said head coach Mark Robison. “Not everyone on the team came, but those who did performed well.”
David Pendergrass, a 6”1″ freshman, was one of the Cougars” bright spots. In his first collegiate event, he shattered his personal best in the high jump by clearing 6-11.
Pendergrass said he was a little nervous and intimidated before the meet started.
“It was a good way to get rid of the nerves,” he said regarding his personal record-breaking jump. “It helped me realize that I have a shot this year.”
In other events, the Cougars claimed the top four spots and dominated the 55 meter hurdles. Daymon Visser won with a time of 7.62 seconds. Greg Flint came in second.
The 55 meter dash was a thriller, as BYU sprinter Matt Nielsen edged out teammate Robert Mugagga for first place by one-hundreth of a second. Their times were 6.47 and 6.48 seconds.
Before the meet, Robison decided to shake things up a bit and have athletes run races and participate in events they do not normally participate in.
Nielsen, who usually runs 400 meter dash, also placed first in the 200 meter race with a time of 22.03.
Robison said the purpose of this shake-up was to give the coaches an opportunity to evaluate each individual”s speed. He believed it allowed the coaches to pinpoint what needed to be worked on in practice.
BYU outran the competition in the 800 meter dash. Kish Beverley placed first with a time of 48.63. Matt Rowe and Mao Tjiroze finished third and fourth respectively.
Chad Durham was the second fastest man in the 3,000 meters at 8 minutes and 49 seconds. Teamate Ammon Larsen, who said he had not ran the 3,000 meter race since February, only trained with the team once over the last two weeks and was content with his third-place finish.
After the competition, Robison emphasized the significance of meet competition.
“We have to compete,” he said. “It”s important that we run against others and throw against others.”