BYU track: 2013 men's track and field team aims for another top-25 finish

By Mason Porter

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Jan. 10 2013 4:36 p.m. MST

PROVO, Utah — Despite losing two-time NCAA National Champion Miles Batty to graduation, the No. 13 BYU men's track and field team returns for the 2013 season aiming for another top-25 finish.

"Our overall goal is always to be in the top 25 at nationals," head coach Mark Robison said. "I think we have the potential to be in the top 20, we’re just going to see how we develop."

Besides Batty, BYU will also miss the talents of sprinters Chris Carter and Shaquille Walker. Carter, a two-time All-American, finished his senior season by placing eighth in the 400 hurdles at the 2012 NCAA Championships. Walker, who is currently serving an LDS mission, earned second-team All-America honors at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 4x400 relay and advanced to the semifinals of the 800 meters at the IAAF World Junior Championships last year.

"We lost some good athletes, but I really like the team we've got this year," Robison said. "We’ve got the talent, we’ve just got to see how we can progress and grow and stay healthy."

As part of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, the Cougars will compete against powerhouse programs like Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon and UCLA in the MPSF Indoor Championships on Feb. 22-23 in Seattle prior to the NCAA Indoor Championships. BYU finished fifth in the MPSF last indoor season.

Robison enters his 13th season as head coach of the men’s track and field team after leading the team to No. 5 and No. 14 finishes at the 2012 indoor and outdoor NCAA championships, respectively.

BYU opens its season at the BYU Invitational at the Smith Fieldhouse. The meet starts Thursday evening and runs through Saturday morning. Visit the event page for more information.

Distance

"We’ve got some really good distance kids," Robison said. "Jared Ward had a phenomenal cross-country year and he was an All-American last year in the 10,000 meters. When we look at who the stars are going to be here, he’s one of them."

Among the other distance runners are seniors Ryan Waite and Rex Shields. Waite qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2012 and finished with a time of 1:49.09 to take 18th in the preliminary round. Shields battled injuries during the 2012 cross-country season, but can make a big contribution to the team if he remains healthy. At last year's MPSF Championship meet, Shields was part of the distance medley relay team that won the event with a time of 9:29.00, setting a new BYU record and qualifying for the NCAA Indoor Championships in the process.

Sprints and Hurdles

“There are a lot of seniors this year that should be really strong for us," Robison said. "Rhyan Atrice is finally healthy and he’s going to help us. And Cade Lindahl should have a great season, he was excellent for us last year."

Lindahl was part of the distance medley relay team that finished third at the NCAA Indoor Championships. He also finished second at the 2012 MPSF Championships in the 400 meters.

Fan Fan Charles and Jason Hinds join Lindahl as the sprinters to watch in 2013. Robison said some of the incoming freshman will have the opportunity to make contributions for the Cougars, as will Bejon Bryant, a transfer student from Long Beach City College.

“We’re very excited about having Bejon," Robison said. "We’ll have to see what kind of shape he’s in because he’s never done indoor track before, but I’m very interested to see what he’ll be able to do.”

Jumps

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