Several BYU athletes broke school and personal records during the first indoor track and field invitational of the 2020 season.
The BYU track and field team opened their 2020 indoor season with an invitational at the Smith Fieldhouse and hosted teams from Westminster College, Utah Valley University, Utah State University and Southern Utah University. This opening meet included many BYU student athletes breaking personal records on both the men’s and women’s side.
Athlete Jaslyn Gardner broke the school record in the 60-meter sprint on Jan. 11 with a time of 7.39, beating the previous record held by Mindy Neely McClurkin, who had held the record since 2010. This is Gardner’s second school record, her first being in the outdoor 100 meter sprint, which she broke at the 2019 Robison Invitational with a time of 11.38.
“I knew I would probably get the record, whether it was this meet or in the season. My goal was to get a 7.3 and I got it. It felt good to get the record early in the season, and I was just really excited when I knew I got it,” Gardner said.
She is in her sophomore year at BYU, with competitions in the 60-meter, 100-meter and 200-meter under her belt. Coming off of her freshman season in both indoor and outdoor season, Gardner is one of BYU’s youngest sprinters.
“I definitely want to go to nationals and compete there. I think that would be a good experience,” she said.
Sierra Freeland also had a career-high invitational when she set a new career best in the shot put. Freeland threw 15.28 meters moving up on the all-time record board to No. 7. This new career best was 0.82 meters further than her previous indoor record of 14.46, set at the Iowa State Classic in February 2017.
“When I found out that I was on the top-10 board, it was exciting because I haven’t moved up in a while. The top-10 board is something pretty much everyone on the team wants to be on, and if you are on it, you want to keep moving up over and over again,” Freeland said.
Freeland is competing for BYU in her junior season and has competed in the shot put, discus, hammer throw and weight throw events in both the indoor and outdoor seasons. While this is her junior year with BYU Track and Field, she did not compete during the 2019 season as she was redshirting. This invitational was her first competition back. She threw 50-feet, which has been a goal of her’s for a long time, but she knows that there is no way she is stopping there and hopes to progress throughout the remainder of the season.
The success at the invitational did not stop with the women’s team, Men’s Track and Field also had a day filled with personal records, with Brian Matthews setting personal records throughout the heptathlon event. The scores that he posted at this invitational will likely qualify him for nationals.
Track and Field Head Coach Ed Eyestone talked about how this opening invitational was also used as a benchmark for where athletes were at after months of conditioning and training. He said track and field is a mental sport as much as anything else, so the momentum of a strong start, especially coming off of the winter break, showed great things for BYU’s season.
“As we continue to match up with stronger competition, our expectation is that they will rise up and elevate,” Eyestone said. “Elevate is our team theme this year. We hope that they will just continue to elevate and that we qualify as many athletes as we can for the national meet.”
Elise Romney joined her teammates in the record books by jumping 4.31/14-1.75 in the pole vault. This height set a record at the Nike Boise Indoor Invitational. She previously held the No. 4 spot in the record books before this jump.
Whittni Orton is the most recent BYU women’s track and field athlete to break a BYU Record, already her third broken record of the 2020 season. Orton’s time of 8:49.63 in the 3000 meter broke the previous record held by her former teammate, Erica Birk-Jarvis, by 11 seconds.
The BYU Track and Field team is coming off of a Men’s NCAA Championship win in cross country in December, while the women’s team placed second. This momentum is carrying through to the beginning of indoor season as these cross country runners also make up the distance team for track and field.