By Othello Richards
Four months and 13 cities into their indoor and outdoor seasons, members of BYU”s track team will finally compete in their own venue.
Scheduled to roll into Provo on Saturday, April 6, are numerous Utah schools – Utah State University, University of Utah, Southern Utah University, Utah Valley State College and Weber State.
According to women”s head coach Craig Poole, because of safety concerns, during their indoor season that ended a month ago, the track teams are unable to compete in the Smith Fieldhouse where they practice.
Pool said meets used to be held there more than ten years ago, but so many spectators came to watch the events that the crowded Fieldhouse posed a danger to the athletes.
“People were stepping onto the track to watch. It was a mess,” Poole said.
Because of the hazard, BYU stopped hosting track meets in the Smith Fieldhouse and resigned itself to traveling – every week.
According to Poole, since the weather in Provo doesn”t start to warm up until April, the Cougars host only two track meets during the outdoor season. For all other weeks until June the team will be on the road.
So just how are the athletes reacting to their rare opportunity to compete at BYU?
Sophomore middle-distance runner Lisa Price said she is excited to be off the road for a week.
“Traveling really does make you tired,” she said. “Here, you get to sleep in your own bed. You get to eat what you want for breakfast.”
Having a meet at BYU will also give the athletes an opportunity to have their family and friends watch them compete, some for the first time.
Pole vaulter Bethanie Evans said half of her BYU ward and her local family members will be in attendance.
“I think that it will be an awesome experience since I”m a freshman. It”ll be nice to compete on the field we practice on,” Evans said.
The men”s team will be competing shorthanded as 15 of its top athletes will be competing in the 75th annual Texas Relays.
“The Texas Relays is probably the biggest meet of the year,” men”s head coach Mark Robison said. “Most of the meet consists of relays and our goal is to qualify for nationals in the 4×400-meter relay.”
The pole vault competition in Texas, which will feature national champion and BYU senior Jeff Hansen, will also be a main attraction.
“There is a good chance six of the top eight pole vaulters in the nation will be there,” Robison said.
The men”s team will be entering the two competitions this weekend ranked 22nd in the nation, according to Trackwire. Robison said he thinks the ranking is inconsistent with the team”s talent.
“We think we can be top ten,” Robison said. “If we can get continual improvement over the remainder of the season, we are going to be very good.”
At the Cougars” first home meet, field events are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. and running events at 1 p.m. Admission is free.