BYU track: 2013 BYU women's track and field top recruiting class & veterans prepare for season

By Steven Tew

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 16 2013 7:35 p.m. MST

Gowar, a junior from Pretoria, South Africa, specializes in the 60, 100 and 200. During the 2012 MPSF Indoor Championships, Gowar ran a career-best time of 7.63 in the 60. She also placed 21st in 25.26 in the 200 during the same meet.

Kaylee Packham is predicted by coaches to make a significant difference for the Cougars in the hurdles. She is the Loveland High School record holder in the 100-meter hurdles, 300 hurdles, 200, 4x100, 4x200, 4x400, 60 and the 60 hurdles, and won the Colorado 5A State Championships in the 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, 4x100 and the 4x200.

Brie Simmons, of Loomis, Calif., is the CIF Division 2 and 3 Champion in the 100, 100 hurdles and the 300 hurdles. She also holds the Del Oro High School records in the 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, long jump, 4x100 and 4x400. Simmons is also the Cougar's top multi-event recruit.

Allysa Hanson, who sat out the 2012 indoor and outdoor seasons because of an ACL injury, will also provide depth for her team in the 60 and the 400.


In the jumps, senior Melissa Keltner and junior Elizabeth Wilson return in 2013 to fill the shoes of All-Americans Diana Blauer and Ada Robinson. Keltner finished 2012 with career best performances in the triple jump at the Utah Valley Invitational of 12.26m and in the long jump during the Weber State Classic of 5.71.

Wilson finished 2012 with an eighth-place finish at the Georgia Tech Invitational triple jump with a career best of 12.26m. Wilson is also set to compete as the top multi-event athlete for the Cougars. She finished 18th with a career-best performance in the heptathlon during the Texas Relays in 2012.

Sophomore high jumper Lexi Eaton, who also plays on the BYU women’s basketball team, will not participate in 2013 due to a recent ACL injury during a Cougar basketball game. Eaton finished in the top three for the majority of her meets and recorded a top-10 jump in the NCAA in 2012 of 1.81m. She also currently ranks eighth on the BYU all-time outdoor record board with the same jump.

Shea Taylor and Melissa Merrill join Keltner and Wilson as BYU’s top jump recruits. Taylor, a freshman out of Modesto, Calif., was a four-time, all-conference and two-time, all-section selection and holds the Grace M. Davis High School records in the triple jump and the 100 hurdles.

Merrill holds the Hanford High School record in the high jump with a mark of 1.77m.

Pole Vault

Just as in other events, returning athletes and recruits in the pole vault have a void to fill due to the loss of All-American Christen Guenther. Four Cougars in line to fill that void are Rachel Fisher, Nicole Naatjes, Kelli Ehardt and University of Oregon transfer Anginae Monteverde.

As a freshman, Fisher broke out with a sixth-place finish at the New Balance Invitational and followed with a record-breaking performance at the MWC Indoor Championships. In 2011, Fisher broke her own indoor pole vault record by clearing 4.26m and won the MWC Indoor Championship in the event. Fisher currently ranks second on the BYU all-time indoor record board (4.26m) and sixth on the outdoor record board (4.11m).

Naatjes enters her sophomore season ranked seventh (3.93m) on the BYU all-time indoor board and eighth (4.10m) on the BYU all-time outdoor record board in the pole vault. Naatjes finished her freshman year with a first-place finish at the Utah Valley Invitational and a 17th-place finish at the NCAA West Regionals.

Similarly to her teammates, Ehardt ranks among the BYU pole vaulting elite on the BYU all-time indoor and outdoor record boards. She ranks fifth on the indoor board and fourth on the outdoor board with vaults of 4.02m and 4.16m, respectively. As a freshman, Ehardt won the MWC indoor pole vault title and placed third in both the MWC indoor and outdoor championships as a junior. She redshirted during the 2012 seasons due to a shoulder injury.

Monteverde placed second in the pole vault during the MPSF indoor championships as a freshman at the University of Oregon with a vault of 4.11m.


Allyson Anderson Wardell, who enters her senior year as the teams top javelin thrower, is a two-time All-MWC selection in 2010 and 2011, and a second-team All-America honoree in 2012. Wardell threw for 44.28m during the NCAA Championships to earn All-America honors.

Joining Wardell in the throws are sophomore Brianna French and senior Deezbaa Whaley.

French, the Cougar’s top discus thrower, threw a personal best 47.71m in the outdoor discus during the Utah Valley Invitational. French currently ranks eighth on the BYU all-time outdoor record board with her personal best throw.

Whaley, a Kayenta, Ariz., native and a recent returned missionary, is the team’s top performer in the weight throw and the hammer throw. Prior to her mission, Whaley had personal best throws of 52.04m in the hammer throw and 17.68m in the weight throw. Whaley currently sits fourth on the BYU all-time indoor record board in the 20-Lb. weight throw and ninth on the outdoor record board in the discus.

The top recruit in the throws is javelin thrower Taylor Barrus. The Ridgefield, Wash., native won the region and state championships as a senior with throws of 43.19m and 45.93m, respectively.

The women's track team starts off the 2013 indoor season with the BYU Indoor Invitational on Jan. 10 at 2 p.m. MST in the Smith Fieldhouse.

Steven Tew is an SID at BYU Athletic Communications. He can be contacted at wtrack_sid@byu.edu,

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