BYU track and field targets nationals

Shea Martinez-Collinsworth leads the 800-meter race at the MPSF Indoor Track and Field Championships in February. She was one of three BYU athletes to compete in the NCAA meet where she placed fifth. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

The BYU track and field team is set for a promising outdoor season after a record-breaking indoor season.

Twenty-eight athletes have hit potential regional qualifying marks in the first three meets of the outdoor season, and with multiple athletes already competing at a regional level, head BYU track and field coach Ed Eyestone said the focus this season has changed.

“We are trying to put more emphasis now on making it to the next level, not just the regional meet but also making it to nationals,” Eyestone said. “When you get a lot of good people to the national meet, good things usually happen. That’s our goal: increased participation at the national meet.”

There is no doubt the team has the talent to do it, Eyestone added.

BYU was the only school in the country to have both a male and female 800-meter All-American at the NCAA indoor meet in Birmingham, Alabama, on March 12. Athletes must finish in the top eight of their event to be named First Team All-Americans.

All-Americans Shaquille Walker and Shea Martinez-Collinsworth finished third and fifth, respectively, in the 800-meter. Zachary Blackham placed third in the high jump, earning his first All-American honor.

“We are going to build on what we had as a very solid indoor season for us and hopefully do even better outdoors,” Eyestone said.

Martinez-Collinsworth, a junior from Layton, Utah, hopes to qualify for outdoor nationals, place in the top three and go to the Olympic trials.

“It takes a lot of mental toughness and there is a lot that happens behind the doors, not just at practice,” Martinez-Collinsworth said. “Everything else adds up. It takes being disciplined and living a lifestyle towards that.”

Blackham, a junior from Orem, Utah, hit a personal best mark of 2.20 meters (7 feet, 2 inches) in the high jump last year at the Aztec Invitational. He plans to jump a few inches higher this season and make the top 24 to qualify for the Olympic trials.

“The biggest thing for me is just when I focus on having fun and relaxing during the competition,” Blackham said. “I just have fun and it works out.”

Walker is also training extensively to shave seconds off his 800-meter time to represent the U.S. in the Olympics this summer.

Aside from “heavy-hitters” Walker, Blackham and Martinez-Collinsworth, Eyestone expects great performances from twins Anginae Monteverde, a pole vaulter, and Alyssa Monteverde-Dalton, a hurdler. Both are set to make it to the NCAA meet this season, a first for Monteverde-Dalton.

Blackham is excited to see long jumper John Glazier, hurdler Mark Carlson and multi-event competitors Kevin Nielsen and Jackson Walker. Martinez-Collinsworth said Kristi Rush will dominate the steeplechase.

“We have a lot of potential on the team and anything can happen,” Martinez-Collinsworth said.

“(The goal is to) just keep getting better and have fun with it and support each other,” Blackham added.

After several meets on the road, the BYU track and field team will return home to compete at the Clarence Robison Invitational April 21–23.

The NCAA West Regional Meet will be held May 26–28 in Lawrence, Kansas. The national meet will be two weeks later in Eugene, Oregon.

“We’ve got plenty of time to continue to improve, continue to stretch, continue to work and get faster and throw further and jump higher,” Eyestone said.

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