By Ryan Curtis
If teams coming in expected the home team to lie down for the Pac 10, they were wrong. Sprinting powerhouse USC took home a convincing first place, but BYU took second in a tough and exciting NCAA West Regional Meet.
“We were hoping to be closer to SC,” BYU head coach Mark Robison said, “but that”s the best we”ve ever done.”
As a team, BYU placed fifth last year in this meet in Eugene, Ore. Now with a crew of seasoned veterans, and rolling freshmen, the Cougars look to do well at Sacramento, Calif., where athletes from around the nation will compete. The men”s team has nine automatic tickets to the event. Senior Josh McAdams will compete in the 3000-meter steeplechase, along with sophomore Chandler Goodwin. Junior Niklas Arrhenius will be representing BYU in the discus. Senior Robbie Pratt won the West Region pole vault, and will go to nationals. Junior David Pendergrass tied for second with freshman Trevor Heiner in the high jump, sending both to nationals in that event.
Along with Heiner, three other freshmen are going to nationals. Kyle Perry, who endured a brutal race in the 1500-meter, is going to Sacramento, as well as Chris Reno in the javelin, and Chris Carter in the 400-meter hurdles. Coach Robison said he is also hoping some of his other athletes will get to go as at-large bids, which means their best times are among the nations top eight besides the automatic region winners.
“Hoping the 4×400-meter relay will make it by time,” Robison said. “I”m hoping Ben [Gardner] will make it by time. And I”m hoping [Whitney] Neves will make it to nationals.”
Ben Gardner was sick and Robison said it was probably a combination of allergies, flu and his asthma. Robison said he hopes he gets well soon, but knows it meant missing his chance to compete at nationals. Gardner was also missed on the relay that just barely missed an automatic bid by coming in fourth behind, Washington, USC and Oregon. Whitney Neves missed the call by tying for sixth in the pole vault. He would have tied for the fifth spot with a jump like the one that won him the Mountain West Conference title.
A lot of events might have changed if the weather had held up. On Friday, athletes and spectators alike fought the nearly 80-degree heat. On Saturday, only the well prepared were comfortable with the temperature dropping to the mid 50”s.
“The conditions weren”t very good, I got lucky and pulled one out,” Reno said of his javelin performance. “I made it to nationals and that”s what I wanted.”