The NCAA Track and Field Championships are returning to Provo next month, and wouldn't you know it - the host team is beat up.
Kenny Henderson, a national-class sprinter and school record holder at 100 meters, has flunked out of school; Tim Hesse, a national-class quarter-miler and school record holder at 400 meters, has transferred to George Mason; John Myles-Mills, a world-class sprinter from Ghana, has been dismissed from school pending an investigation into charges of fraudulent transcripts; Chris Wilson, one of the nation's top female high jumpers, has mono; injury-plagued Susan DeVries Christiansen, a national-class hurdler, is injured again.Nevertheless, the Cougars have enough depth that they should still be well-represented at the NCAA Championships, which will be held May 31-June 3. Once again, they should be able to field one of the country's top 20 teams. As for Utah's other collegiate teams, each has a handful of athletes who should qualify for the big show in Provo come June.
Here is a look at some of the Utah talent, as the 1989 outdoor track and field season gets under way:
BEST OF THE BEST
Frank Fredericks (BYU, sprints, personal records: 10.25/20.57/46.28) - A sophomore from Namibia, he finished second in the NCAA indoor championships 200-meter dash. He's one of the finest sprinters ever to run for a Utah school.
Ted Mecham (BYU, steeplechase, 8:38.53) - Mecham, who previously concentrated on the mile, tried the steeplechase for the first time last year and wound up placing second in the NCAA Championships. Big, fast and strong, his potential is immense.
Eric Chesley (Utah, 400IH, 50.50) - Despite his size (6-foot-6) and a pedestrian start, he has twice won the Western Athletic Conference championship with a strong stretch run. He continues to improve yearly.
Shaun McAlmont (BYU, 400 int. hurdles, 50.60) - A senior from Canada, he's off to the fastest start of his career, having already hit 50.86 in his second outdoor meet.
Per Karlsson (BYU, hammer, 213-2) - Karlsson, a sophomore who qualified for the NCAAs on his first throw of the season, will continue the long tradition of outstanding Swedish weightmen at BYU. He was fourth in the NCAA indoor weight throw.
Kris Cary (Weber, steeplechase, 8:43.82) - Another in a long line of fine Weber steeplechasers, Cary could well crack the top eight at nationals this year - if he stays on his feet (he fell and was knocked unconscious in the heats of the NCAAs last year). He's already run 8:49.
Russ Muir (BYU, 800 meters, 1:48.80) - A junior from Sandy, he narrowly missed qualifying last year. His future may be in the 1,500.
John Myles-Mills (BYU, sprints, 10.21) - When Coach Willard Hirschi talks about Myles-Mills he spares no praise: "He could be the best college sprinter in America. He's something else." Hirschi can only hope that the current investigation will clear Mills' transcripts, thus winning him reinstatement. In his spare time, meanwhile, Myles-Mills placed second in the recent World Indoor Championships 60-meter dash in Budapest.
Dave Andreasen (Weber State, 5,000, 14:19.2) - The senior from Murray was eighth in the NCAA indoor 5,000, and the fourth American. He'll also run the 10,000.
Craig Carter (Utah State, hammer, 198-6) - Carter is a one-man team in the weights, able to score well in three events, but the hammer is his best event. He has bests of 174-2 in the discus and 56-8 in the shot.
Dave Chipman (BYU, mile/5,000, 3:45.75/14:26.6) - Chipman was on his way to a big season last year when he was stopped by a recurring illness (rheumatic fever). If he can stay healthy, he'll do well.
John Kelly (Utah State, javelin, 226-2) - A year ago Kelly qualified for nationals. He should do the same this year.
Dave Chowen (Weber, 400IH, 51.05) - A senior from Viewmont, Chowen just missed qualifying for the NCAA meet last year. Put him on the same track with Chesley, McAlmont and Utah's Jeff Brown and you have the best race in the state.
Teri Okelberry (Weber, javelin, 177-1) - Sixth in the Olympic Trials, ranked ninth in the U.S. in '88, she's a good bet to place well in the NCAAs. She's also a good intermediate hurdler and heptathlete.
Chris Wilson (BYU, high jump, 6-2) - Wilson, who is also a national-class diver, had the leading collegiate mark in the nation indoors, but she missed the national meet to compete in the diving regionals - which she also missed because of mono. There's no telling how long the illness will keep her down.
Hui Chen Lee (BYU, javelin, 188-1 1/2) - Chen Lee had a sub-par season, but two years ago she was fourth in the NCAAs.
Lola Ogunde (Utah State, sprints, 11.49/23.58/54.29) - A senior from Nigeria, she is ready to try for her third straight conference championship in the 100- and 200-meter dashes.
Noeleen Mullan (BYU, 1,500 meters, 4:22.45) - Mullan, a senior from Ireland, should qualify for the NCAAs in the 1,500, just as she did a year ago.
Susan DeVries Christiansen (BYU, hurdles, 13.64) - Since her All-American days at East High School, Christiansen, a fifth-year senior, has spent most of her time in the training room with an assortment of foot, ankle and hamstring injuries. But when healthy, she's difficult to beat.
Georgia Johnson Palmer (BYU, 800 meters, 2:07.53) - Perhaps this year she can make up the step or two that kept her out of nationals.
Melanie Child Barker (BYU, 800 meters, 2:08.0) - Same as above.
BEST OF THE REST
UTAH STATE - Kyle Jensen (400IH, 51.63), Kathy Maughan (runnerup in the JC nationals last year in her first season of heptathlon competition); WEBER STATE - Dean Miller (steeplechase, 8:47.8), Terry Kealamakia (already 53.26 in the 400IH this year after a two-year layoff), Shauna Turner (shot put, 49-2 1/2), Dana Willie (1,500 meters, 4:38), Kelly Davis (800, 2:13.98); UTAH - Brenda Alcorn (defending conference high jump champ), John Clark (high jump, 7-1 1/2); BYU - Maxine Scringer (400 meters, 54.74).
Jeff Brown (Utah, 400IH, 51.16) - A junior from Olympus High, Brown was one of the top surprises last season and might well have stolen the WAC race if not for hitting a hurdle. Watch for him this year.
Bob Durtschi (Weber, steeplechase, 8:53.8) - A junior from Sky View High, he has been rising steadily since winning the junior national meet four years ago.
Kelly Murdock (BYU, 400IH, 52.16) - Yet another good intermediate hurdler in the state, Murdock, who's 6-foot-6, is just rounding into form. No one knows about him yet, but they might in a couple of months.
There seems to be an exceptional freshman class at the Utah schools this year. To wit:
With his first year of serious training behind him, Steve Sumsion (Hillcrest High) finished second in the WAC indoor 3,000. Another Utah prep product, Matt Godfrey, was second in the Big Sky indoor mile and clocked 4:10.6.
BYU's Lane White already has scaled 17-3 3/4 in the pole vault this year, but that's only half the story. Lance White, Lane's teammate and identical twin, has cleared 16-6 3/4.
USU's Ime Akepan, a Nigerian, qualified for indoor nationals in the hurdles; so did BYU's Christy Opara, another Nigerian who set three indoor school records, one a long jump mark of 20-6.
Utah's Karen Alcorn long jumped 19-8 1/2 as an Oregon prep last year to rank fifth in the nation. BYU's Cathy James, fresh from Orem High, already has won a major collegiate invitational discus title.
Guy Perry, a freshman from Weber High, will be Weber's steeplechaser of the future. He already has run 9:09. Another Weber High grad, Katrina Jenkins Larsen, sister of national champion Julie Jenkins, is showing promise as a sprinter at Weber State, as Nicole Alder, a Ben Lomond grad.