BYU pole vaulter Zach McWhorter jumps at the MPSF Championships in 2020. McWhorter broke the BYU record in pole vault on Feb. 6, 2021, clearing 5.76 meters, the second-highest in the NCAA this season. (BYU Photo)

Olympic overview: McWhorter breaks pole vault record and volleyball makes SportsCenter Top 10

Nine BYU teams were in competition last week as the spring season heats up for collegiate sports. This week’s Olympic overview highlights the latest records and victories from around BYU sports.

Track and Field

The Cougars hosted the second Indoor Invitational of the season on Saturday, Feb. 6 in the Smith Fieldhouse.

Sophomore All-American Zach McWhorter set a new BYU school record in the pole vault at the meet, clearing 5.76 meters in the Smith Fieldhouse. McWhorter has automatically qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials and the mark currently ranks second in the NCAA so far this season.

Sophomore Easton Bianchi and senior Halley Folsom Walker moved up the BYU Top-10 list once again this season. Bianchi ran a 6.68 60-meter sprint and tied for sixth all-time at BYU, and Folsom Walker scored 3,864 points in the pentathlon, ninth-most in BYU history and currently ranked 11th in the NCAA.

Senior Brinn Jensen won the women’s 400-meter, clocking a time of 55.91, with three other Cougars placing in the top five and earning personal records.

The Cougars swept the top three spots in women’s shot put. Freshman Gretchen Hoesktre won the event with a career best 14.00-meter/45-11.25 toss.

Junior Sable Lohmeier El-Bakri took first in both the women’s discus and weight throw.

Freshman Meri Dunford took first place with a personal-best in the mile with a time of 5:02.93. Sophomore Madi Moffitt finished the race in third with a career best of 5:04.40.

The Cougars continue at the UW Invitational and Texas Tech Shootout Feb. 12-13.

Women’s Volleyball

No. 14 BYU women’s volleyball took down UVU three sets to one on Feb. 4 in the Crosstown Clash. BYU recorded its 16th win over UVU in the match. 

Multiple Cougars had career nights that contributed to their win over the Wolverines. Freshman libero Madi Allen, the WCC Defensive Player of the Week, totaled 20 digs and six assists and senior Taylen Ballard-Nixon added another career high with 19 kills and 13 digs, completing a double-double for the night.

BYU also made a splash with one of their winning rallies from the second set coming in at number four on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays. Allen made three incredible saves in a row, including a dig as she was getting up off the court, in the highlight clip.

BYU takes on Gonzaga in the Cougars’ home opener Feb. 9-10 in the Smith Fieldhouse.

Gymnastics

No. 12 BYU defeated No. 15 SUU in the Cougars’ home opener with a season-high score of 196.825, compared to 196.175 for the Thunderbirds. The team posted a 49.000 or better on each of the four apparatuses for the first time this season.

The Cougars tallied five routines with a 9.850 or better on bars. Helody Cyrenne led the pack with a season-best 9.900 that crowned her the bars champion for the meet. 

BYU maintained the lead by scoring a 49.350 on beam, the sixth-best finish in BYU history, led by Abby Boden-Stainton and Cyrenne, who each had a season-best 9.900.

BYU finished with a career night and personal-best 9.825 for Jordan Matthews and her Napoleon Dynamite-inspired floor routine.

BYU moves to compete against UCLA on Feb. 10 and a rematch at SUU on Feb. 12.

Swimming and Diving

Three BYU divers made it to the final rounds on day one of the AFA Diving Invitational. Adia London placed fifth overall, scoring 234.30, and Morgan Paul finished sixth, scoring 233.65 in the women’s 3-meter championship. Mickey Strauss reached second place in the men’s 1-meter championship with a score of 338.90.

In day two of the invitational we saw Strauss yet again reach second place with a 337.95 in the men’s 3-meter championship. BYU also saw two top-10 finishes with Paul coming in fifth and Kaylie Jackson finishing seventh in the women’s 1-meter championship.

Jackson and Paul competed in the women’s platform finals on the final day of the invitational. Jackson came in second, scoring a 210.90, with Paul following suit in seventh with a final score of 187.70.

Up next, the BYU diving team will compete in the MPSF Conference Championship from Feb. 16-17.

Tennis

The Cougars suffered their first loss of the season this year to Cal Poly on Saturday, Feb. 6. Madeline Wanlass collected the team’s only win of the day, defeating Grace Olyphant 6-2, 6-2.

The Cougars move to take on Boise State and Montana on the road Feb. 12-13.

The men’s tennis team also lost last week, with a 4-3 defeat against New Mexico on Feb. 5 in Provo. The Cougars continue the home stand with matches against Idaho State on Feb. 13 and Weber State on Feb. 20.

No. 1 BYU men’s tennis player Sean Hill plays against New Mexico on Feb. 5 at the Indoor Tennis Facility in Provo. Hill and the Cougars dropped their third consecutive matchup with a 4-3 defeat against the Lobos. (Preston Crawley)
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