By Ben Wilkinson
MODESTO, Calif-Six athletes of the Cougars men”s track and field team faced tough competition at the 62nd Annual Modesto Relays this weekend.
“Modesto is a meet that has a high level of competition,” head coach Mark Robison said.
BYU sent four pole vaulters: senior Mark Barry, junior Trent Powell, freshman Robbie Pratt and senior Erik Rasmussen, along with hammer thrower junior Matt Holcomb and discuss thrower junior Dan Arrhenius.
They sent Arrhenius because they had hoped it had great discuss wind and the pole-vaulters because Modesto was known as a great venue for that.
The highest finisher for a BYU athlete this weekend was Powell who finished in a tie for fourth in the pole vault. Powell had a season best jump of 17 feet four and one-half inches, almost four inches higher than his previous best.
Seniors Mark Barry and Erik Rasmussen both finished in a tied for 18th with jumps of 16 feet and freshman Robbie Pratt did not place because he did not successfully make a height.
In the Discuss BYU faced competition just as stiff with Arrhenius finishing 11th out of 12 with a throw of 173 feet, 11 inches. Arrhenius looked to better his personal best mark this year, but fell short by nearly four feet
In the hammer throw junior Matt Holcomb finished 11th with throw of 53.14 meters, also not better than his seasonal best mark of 59.05 meters.
The reason BYU keep most of their athletes home this weekend was to train and give them rest to prepare to defend their Mountain West Conference title next week at the University of New Mexico.
The problem that BYU coaches face now is deciding which athletes to bring since the conference meet restricts the numbers of athletes you can bring to 28.
Right now the Cougars have more athletes qualified for regionals than they can take to the conference meet. Coach Robison sees this as a good thing because he has that kind of depth on his team, but at the same time it means he has to tell people they don”t get to go to the conference meet.
“We”re going to have to leave home six or eight people from conference that get to go to regionals,” Robison said.
Robison has to take the 28 people that he feels will give his team the best shot at winning the conference.
The nice thing about regionals is that it you qualify, you go,” Robison said. “With conference there is not a qualifying standard.”
The Cougars start defense of their title Wednesday, May 14, and Thursday, May 15, with the decathlon.