By Michael Jacklin
The BYU track and field teams travel to Palo Alto, Calif. this weekend for the Stanford Invitational, one of the largest invitational meets of the track season.
Thousands of high school, collegiate and professional athletes will compete at the meet. Several of the top college teams in the nation will compete along with the Cougars.
Teams participating at the meet include Nebraska, Notre Dame, USC, UCLA, Utah, Utah State, Weber State, Stanford, Washington and Washington State.
“I think the competition will be really good this week,” BYU men”s head coach Mark Robison said. “We”ll have most of our team with us so we should be better.”
The Cougar pole vaulters will compete in their first outdoor meet of the year. The vaulters are coming off a strong indoor season, including a third-place finish at nationals by sophomore Trent Powell.
Senior Jeremy Kemp, junior Erik Rasmussen, senior Mark Barry and freshman Robison Pratt will join Powell at the meet.
Vaulters coach Larry Berryhill said this is the strongest group of vaulters he has coached since he has been at BYU. Berryhill also said Pratt has the potential to be the best vaulter of the group.
Several of the distance runners will rejoin the Cougars this week after taking last week off.
Sophomore Nathan Robison is seeded fourth in the 1,500-meter race. Robison”s performance at the indoor national meet earned him an All-American award.
Sophomore Bryan Lindsey joins Robison in the 1,500-meter race.
Several other distance runners will compete at the meet including sophomores Chad Simkins, Jeff Taylor, Lars Kjerengtroen and freshman Jacob Gustaffson.
For the first time this year, the Cougars will enter a team into the 4X100 meter relay. The Cougars are seeded seventh in the event behind traditionally strong teams from USC, Washington State and Stanford.
The Cougar women are also looking to perform well and want to get a few athletes qualified for nationals.
Senior Lindsey Thomsen will compete in the 10,000-meter run, her first meet of the outdoor season.
“I”m excited,” Thomsen said. “I”m hoping for a strong race, and also hoping to get qualified for nationals.”
Kristen Ogden and Devra Vierkant will also run in the 10,000-meter this weekend.
This will be Vierkant”s first time ever to compete in the event.
“They all have a chance to qualify for nationals,” distance coach Patrick Shane said. “I expect they all will.”
Sophomore Lisa Antonelli also has a chance to qualify for nationals this weekend in the 10,000-meter, if she feels good enough to make the trip. Antonelli has been recuperating from an illness.
Other Cougars expected to shine this weekend include Kristy Barrus and Anika Smith.
Barrus earned her best time ever last weekend in the 1500-meter run with her time of 4 minutes, 38.19 seconds.
Smith ran her best ever in the 800-meter run with her time of 2:12.11 last weekend.
Shane said he anticipates that Smith will run her best 1500-meter time this weekend.
The Stanford Invitational is the opener for BYU”s Laura Turner, who will compete in the 5,000-meter run. Turner recently returned from serving a mission in Geneva, Switzerland. Before leaving on her mission, Turner was a two-time All-American in cross-country and indoor track, and she also qualified for outdoor nationals the year before her mission.
“We”ll be able to assess her level of fitness in this race,” Shane said. “I expect her to continue to get better as the season goes along.”
Distance runners Breanne Sandberg, Katie Martin (Sabey) and Michaela Mannova will not be competing this weekend because of injuries.
Coaches are taking the proper precautions to ensure that these athletes are able to get the proper rest they need and return to competition as soon as possible.
“A 10k is 25 laps around the track,” Shane said. “There are no timeouts and no substitutions. You”d better be 100% all the way or you”re not going to get it done.”
Collegiate competition will take place Friday from 10:45 a.m. until approximately 10:30 p.m. The meet will then continue on Saturday at 11:45 a.m. and conclude at 5 p.m.