Dick Harmon: 'Princess' reigns as queen of BYU track

Published: Thursday, May 13 2010 12:00 a.m. MDT

PROVO — Coaches and trainers first called her "Squirrel"; then she became the "Princess," but when all is said and done, Mindy McClurkin will certainly end her collegiate track career at BYU with another title, one more enduring and far more accurate.

McClurkin is the most decorated female track star in school history.

And that sits just fine with Mindy, one of the most versatile performers head coach Craig Poole has ever pushed through the program. Her talent will be on display this weekend at the MWC championships in Albuquerque.

Set up McClurkin in the 100 and 200 meters, and she's fine. Let her do her specialty, the long jump, and she wins titles. This week in New Mexico, if they need her to run in every relay event, she'll do it. She's a gal worth as many points as you may require, a luxury every coach dreams of. If BYU wanted to press her abilities, they could get 25 to 35 points out of her this weekend.

"She's been awesome for us," said Poole. "When all is said and done, she will be the most dominant sprinter across events we've ever had and, of course, she is the best long jumper ever."

McClurkin is the MWC favorite in the 100 meters, 200 meters and long jump. One strategy is to have her jump once and post a number, and if it's good enough to win, she won't run down the runway to the sand again but she will run in the sprints.

That's the luxury of having McClurkin, who has already graduated and plans to volunteer coach the track team at Duke University next year as her husband works on his Ph.D., in Durham, N.C.

"I just like feeling powerful and going fast to the end," McClurkin said of sprinting. "The longer races, it's more like, just finish."

Poole, who recruited McClurkin out of Santa Barbara, Calif., as a 400-meter athlete, says the senior has just come into her own this year.

"She's learned just how successful she can be when she puts her mind to it and does the work," Poole said. "The rewards are there, and even greater rewards are to come."

McClurkin already owns BYU indoor school records in the 60 meters (7.45), 200 meters (23.34), long jump (21-11¾) and as a member of this year's 400-meter relay team (3:41.20), that won the New Balance Invitational in New York.

Outdoors, McClurkin holds school records in the 200 meters (23.30), long jump (21-8¼) and ranks No. 3 all-time in the 100 meters with an 11.60, which she hopes to better before her career ends, possibly at the NCAA championships in Eugene, Ore., in mid-June. She joined Porshe Giddings, Amy Otis and Natalie Stewart with the second-best 4x100-meter relay time in BYU history (45.16) in April.

"She's better than the other sprinters we've had here because she has such a great 200; plus, she can do so much with her best event, the long jump." And that includes Windy Jorgensen, a 100-meter specialist in the mid-'90s.

McClurkin set BYU's 200-meter outdoor mark the same day she had her personal best in the 100 meters, at the Mt. SAC relays. Her 11.60 ranked sixth nationally at the time. At that meet, she also won the long jump and MWC athlete of the week honors.

"I love sports; I love to compete," she says. "I love being with people I'm with every day, and I love working hard for my coach and for myself and see the benefit of all the blood and sweat," said McClurkin.

Recruited out of Santa Barbara by many of the top schools in the country, McClurkin would have ended up at UCLA if she weren't a member of the LDS faith.

"This school just fit my standards and my lifestyle better," she said, "but if I hadn't come here, I would have been at UCLA."

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