By Jay Dresser
The Cougar men”s track and field team darted past its opponents for high finishes on Saturday, Jan. 26.
Although only one athlete hit a qualifying mark for the National meet, coaches and athletes said they were pleased with the team”s improvement.
Despite not having its long distance crew, which was competing at the University of Minnesota, the BYU finished third place overall at the Air Force Invitational.
The Cougars had three athletes place in the top four of the pole vault final. With a score of 17-feet and 3/4-inch, Jeff Hansen vaulted to a first place finish and an automatic bid for the national meet. Erik Rasmussen finished third in the event at nearly 16-feet, 9-inches, and Jeremy Kemp was right behind in fourth place.
Matt Nielsen continued his successful season with a first-place finish in the 400-meter dash.
Nielsen ran the two-lap race in 47.53 seconds. Kish Beverley, who won the 400-meters at the Snake River Open last week, edged out teammate Greg Flint to place third with a time of 47.85 seconds. Matt Rowe finished seventh place overall.
Junior sprinter Greg Flint said the 400-meter runners were a little disappointed after they had entered the event hoping to qualify for the national meet.
“We ran well, but strategy wise we could have done a little better,” Flint said. “It”s still early in the season. I think it is a good pace to build on and hopefully we”ll qualify in the next couple of weeks.”
The mile relay team hit cruise control and easily won its event. The team comprised of Flint, Nielsen, Beverley and Rowe just missed the national qualifying mark by finishing in 3 minutes, 13 seconds.
Robert Mugagga placed sixth in the 200-meter dash with a time of 22.13 seconds while Eric Myrup and Damon Visser tied for ninth place in the 60-meter hurdles.
In the long jump, Miguel Pate from the University of Alabama won and set a meet record by jumping 26-feet, 3-inches. BYU”s Aron Szmuda finished in third place with a jump of 22-feet, 11-inches. Szmuda also performed well in the triple jump. He placed seventh overall in the event.
Freshmen high jumpers David Pendergrass and Ammon Dahl leaped to second and third place finishes respectively. Pendergrass, who recorded his personal best jump of 6-feet, 11-inches two weeks ago, jumped 6-feet, 9-inches on Saturday, Jan. 26, and has seen his confidence increase.
“My first goal this year was to just make the traveling team,” Pendergrass said. “Now I can see an opportunity to possibly win conference.”
Daniel Arrhenius finished third place in the shot put and teammate Matt Holcomb threw over 58 feet to place second in the weight throw.
In Minnesota, assistant coach Ed Eyestone was delighted to see the distance runners do well.
“I was super pleased with the guys performance,” Eyestone said. “This performance sets us up really well for the next few weeks.”
Mao Tjiroze came from behind and held off the competition to seal the victory in the 800-meter race. Tjiroze finished the race in 1-minute, 52-seconds.
In the one mile run, Steve Barrus ran 4-minutes, 15-seconds in his first competition after coming back from an injury and finished in fifth place.
Andy Carman paced himself to a victory in the 3,000-meter run. Carman ran a remarkable 8-minutes, 20-seconds.