The BYU women’s track and field team has 14 athletes set to compete at the 2013 Outdoor Track and Field West Regionals in Austin, Texas this weekend.
BYU’s team has a few athletes with strong chances of placing in the top 12 of their respective event and advancing to the National Championships in June.
“Regionals are just one step,” women’s head coach Patrick Shane said. “Regionals qualify for nationals, and nationals score points.”
Shane is referring to overall points rewarded to teams with athletes who place in their events at nationals. The team with the most points wins the national championship.
“We are one of the top teams in the nation, and one of the top five in qualifying distance runners,” Shane said. “Our goal is to place in the top 20 every year.”
BYU has four athletes competing in the 1500 meters in Jessica Hilton, Rachel Stewart, Candace Carlisle and Sarah Yingling. Yingling is near the top 12 in the event with a reasonable chance to advance to nationals.
Kelsey Brown has the fourth fastest time in the 800 meters with a time of 2:03.95 and is one of the favorites to qualify for nationals.
Senior Natalie Stewart will be competing in her final West Regional in the 400 meters with an opportunity to move on as well. Stewart suffered an ACL tear in one of her knees last year and has had to overcome that injury.
“She has a very good chance,” Shane said. “She just needs to improve a little bit. It is a tremendous effort on her part to come back from that injury.”
In the 400 meter hurdles BYU will look to Allysa Hansen and Kaylee Packham who likely need to run personal best times to have a chance at moving on.
Six other athletes will also be competing for the young women’s team. Shane believes the future is bright with many young athletes getting experience at these regionals and hopes to qualify four of them to nationals.
“Our expectations are to qualify as many people as possible to the National Championships,” Shane said.