Cougar athletes shine at Virginia Challenge

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BYU track and field made its mark during the two-day Virginia Challenge in Charlottesville, Virginia, May 9 and 10.

The event gave athletes an opportunity to break several of their own personal bests as well as to beat several professional athletes from the United States.

BYU hurdler Kensey Berry competes earlier this season. Photo by Ari Davis
BYU hurdler Kensey Berry competes earlier this season. (Photo by Ari Davis)

Competing in Virginia required an adjustment that was felt by many on the team, with BYU head coach Ed Eyestone commenting that, “We have all been feeling the travel a little.”

The first day of the Challenge saw several BYU athletes shine in their respective events.

“I thought we had some good performances today from Mark Carlson, Shea Martinez and Jennica Redd,” said head coach Ed Eyestone.

Carlson, a freshman from Austin, Texas, placed first overall in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 51.64 seconds, surpassing his personal best of 52.14 during the same event at the 2014 Stanford Invitational.

Among professional and collegiate athletes, Martinez, a freshman from Layton, Utah, ran the 800 meters. She finished second among collegiate athletes, and fourth place overall with a time of 2:06.23.

Redd, a junior from Orem, set a personal record of 10:22.69 in the women’s 3,000-meter steeple chase.

The second day of events brought additional victories to the BYU team with Curtis Carr, a senior from Nashville, Indiana, winning the 3,000-meter steeple chase with a time of 8:57.03, beating Jacob Smith from High Point University (North Carolina) by 0.43 seconds.

“Curtis had a really nice close today,” Eyestone said. “He had a really dramatic, come-from-behind victory. He came charging back and closed a gap of about 40 meters over the last 200.”

Travis Fuller, a junior from Orem, placed fourth and achieved a new personal record of 9:04.95 in the steeple chase. This improved upon his past best in this event of 9:10.56 at the Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner Kersee Invitational by almost six seconds.

In the 5,000 meters, senior Jared Ward from Kaysville brought it home for BYU — beating out two professional athletes in the process. Ward finished the event with a mark of 13:57.44, not quite surpassing his best of 13:37.03 in the 5,000-meters at the 2013 Mt. Sac Relays.

Placing fifth among the collegiate athletes in the same event, senior Tommy Grunewald from Manlius, New York, finished with a time of 14:12.16, not quite exceeding his personal best of 13:54.26 from 2013.

Newcomer Kristi Rush, a freshman from Gilbert, Arizona, set a record of her own in the 1,500 meters with a mark of 4:30.77, placing her second in her event.

The Georgia Tech Invitational, a two-day meet beginning May 16, will draw several athletes from the BYU team to compete.

“Some of our team will be getting ready for the Georgia Tech meet coming up, while others prepare for the NCAA regionals,” Eyestone said.

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