BYU men and women’s track will divide and conquer this weekend, sending the sprinters and jumpers to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., and the long sprints and distance athletes to the University of Washington. This will be the second time the team has split this way, making it the second trip to AFA and the second time to UW this year.
The meets Friday through Saturday are the last indoor meets of the year, and the athletes are trying to qualify for the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation meet in two weeks. The MPSF meet will take the place of a conference meet for BYU, because the Pac-12 does not have an indoor conference meet. Only 27 athletes from the men’s team and 27 athletes from the women’s team will be selected to attend and compete in the MPSF meet. This scenario makes this weekend an important one for BYU athletes.
The men have not run a 4×400 meter relay race or a 5,000 meter race this year, so this weekend will be the first opportunity for them to debut and qualify for MPSF and potentially nationals.
“We are chasing marks, (and) trying to get the best (result) for each individual,” BYU men’s head coach Mark Robison said. “We are doing everything to have individuals be as successful as they can.”
Some of the women will also be running for the first time. Freshman Natalie Shields will be competing in the 5,000 meter race in Washington for the first time in her college career, and for the first time on a track as opposed to a course.
“I’m a little nervous, but I am really excited to race and get out there and run,” Shields said. “I want to see where I’m at physically and look towards outdoor season.”
With the MPSF championships and NCAA nationals right around the corner, the athletes are pushing themselves hard to qualify.
“We are looking for our high jumpers to get some great marks and our distance runners to get some good marks,” women’s head coach Patrick Shane said. “The competition this week will be even stronger than it was two weeks ago. We are adding teams and people are running faster.”