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BYU track: Men put up top marks in Idaho and Iowa meets

By Blake Dorton

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, Feb. 14 2016 8:05 p.m. MST

A number of BYU athletes broke into the school's all-time top-10 list or set personal records in the final regular season meet at the Iowa State Classic this weekend.

Senior Zachary Stetler had his best throw ever with a mark of 18.66 meters in the shot put, good for eighth best in BYU indoor school history. Freshman Connor Ross ran 1:50.47 in the 800 meters to give him the 10th best time in school history. Ryan Waite, BYU track and field director of operations, said it’s always special when an athlete breaks into the record books.

“Whenever anybody can get into the all-time top-10 in school history it’s a big deal,” Waite said. “We like to celebrate and have a little ceremony for them when we come back. I think it’s what a lot of people on the team work toward, so it’s one of the greatest accomplishments you can have as a BYU track and field athlete.”

Part of the intrigue in Iowa was getting out of the routine to face new competition in an unfamiliar location. Waite said he thought it was great for the team.

“The competition in every event was just fantastic,” Waite said. “We’re on the West Coast for a lot of our meets. We usually go to California, Washington, Arizona and other places like that for most of our meets. So we were able to face a lot of competition we usually don’t see. I think that was fun for the athletes. I also think it helped our team’s level of competition because there were great performances in all event groups.”

There were quite a few impressive performances in the mile. Junior Jonathan Harper led the way with a time of 4:02.24. A group of underclassmen that included Rory Linkletter, Chase Horrocks, Talem Franco and Karson Fronk ran the mile in 4:07 and under. The men’s 4x400 meters team won the event with a season-best time of 3:10.28. Sophomore John Glazier won the long jump in Iowa with a mark of 7.42 meters, 10th best in BYU indoor history.

“To win an individual event at a meet like this is a big deal. It’s huge,” Waite said. “At an event like this you’re competing against a lot of Power Five schools. For you to say that out of all those schools you have the best long jumper that’s a big deal. It goes a long way when you’re talking to recruits and when you’re evaluating the status of the program. It means you’re at least at that level.”

Waite noted that many athletes felt this meet was great preparation for the conference championships in two weeks.

“Almost everybody was saying after every event that this was exactly what they needed before conference,” Waite said. “They said it really prepared them for the MPSF meet in a couple of weeks, so I think it was a nice springboard.”

Sophomore Kevin Nielsen had a career-day to lead a small portion of the team that competed in the Boise State Challenge.

Nielsen had personal records in the high jump and long jump, with marks of 2.05 meters and 7.48 meters, respectively. His long jump was good for eighth best in BYU indoor history. Mark Robison, BYU track and field associate head coach, was thrilled with his day.

“Kevin had an awesome day in the high jump and long jump,” Robison said. “He really jumped well. He’s a heptathlete and he’ll get to compete in two weeks. Hopefully he can improve his score a little bit so he can get into nationals.”

Other athletes with notable performances included pole vaulters Kyle Brown and Jameson Shirley. Brown had his best meet of the season with a mark of 5.15 meters. Shirley equaled the same mark. Zachary Blackham jumped 2.15 meters in the high jump, and Jackson Walker set personal records in the long jump (6.68 meters) and 60 meter hurdles (8.44).

“A lot of the marks we got here were just as good or better than the ones in Iowa,” Robison said. “I think the athletes did very well. Now we get a week off before we head to the MPSF meet with one more chance to qualify for nationals. It should be pretty exciting.”

For full results from both meets, visit the BYU men’s track and field schedule page.

Next up for BYU track and field is the MPSF Championships in Seattle on Feb. 26-27.

Blake Dorton is a BYU student studying broadcast journalism and French. He hopes to pursue a career in sports broadcasting after graduation. You can follow him on Twitter @BlakeDorton.

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