In his first meet of the season, Shaquille Walker set the BYU indoor school record in the 800 meters with a time of 1:46.97 at the Washington Invitational on Saturday.
It was the kind of start to his All-American’s season that BYU coach Ed Eyestone was hoping for.
“We had some outstanding marks on the men’s side led by Shaquille who set a school record in the 800 meters,” Eyestone said. “He set the meet record last year, so he improved on that and also set the school record in the process. It was phenomenal and it’s going to be one of the top times in the country. It’s the best time anyone has ever run in a BYU uniform during indoor season.”
Saturday’s 800 meters result was precisely what Walker and the BYU coaches had hoped to accomplish going into the meet.
“It was what we wanted. We wanted to run anything under 1:47,” Walker said. “I had some thoughts of maybe going even faster, but anything in the 1:46 range was what I had been preparing for during the past month. It ended up being right where we wanted.”
The fast start is just the beginning to a season that Walker hopes will eventually come to a close in Brazil at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
“Everything I’m doing right now is to prepare me for the Olympic trials in July," Walker said. "We’re training and racing with a long-term approach, but on the day of the race we have a plan of what we want to do that is aimed at the big, overall goal. If I always focus on that huge goal then I wouldn’t do as well. We break it down so I can focus from race to race while still having our sights set on the Olympic trials.”
Eyestone identified other athletes who stepped up in Seattle.
“Jonathan Harper ran eight minutes flat in the 3,000 meters. It was an excellent time,” Eyestone said. “He ran a very smart race and it was a big PR for him.
“Chase Horrocks ran 4:04 in the mile, which is really good.”
Shot put specialist Zachary Stetler also had a solid performance with a throw of 17.16 meters.
Participating teams at the Washington Invitational did not receive a team score. Rather, the purpose of the meet was to offer athletes an opportunity to get the qualifying marks needed for the conference and NCAA meets.
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“I think it was an exceptional meet,” Eyestone said. “It was a real step up for the season thus far. Everyone that came did a great job.”
Up next for BYU men’s track and field are the Mountain States Games in Pocatello, Idaho, and the New Mexico Collegiate Track and Field Classic in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Both events are Feb. 5-6.
Blake Dorton is a BYU student studying broadcast journalism and French. He hopes to pursue a career in sports broadcasting following graduation. You can follow Blake on Twitter @BlakeDorton.