Doug Padilla
Utah hurdler Chelsea Shapard wears a blue ribbon to honor Chelsi Petersen, a BYU track athlete who was recently killed in a car accident.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Just days before leaving for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, BYU team members learned of the tragic death of freshman teammate Chelsi Petersen.

While the majority of the Cougars' team prepares for Petersen's funeral, which will be held in St. George on Saturday, members of the BYU team competing in Des Moines were searching for ways to show their support for their teammate and her family.

BYU athletes in Des Moines had planned to use black ink markers to write Petersen's initials on their spikes; however, an alternative, perhaps more visible way to show their support came from members of another team.

University of Utah hurdler Chelsea Shapard had an idea.

"(She) came up to us and asked if it would be all right for them to wear a blue ribbon on their uniforms to honor Chelsi during the championships," BYU team trainer Dustin Williams said. "She said she had some extra ribbon that we could use as well. So, each of us have been wearing a blue ribbon to honor Chelsi. It was an admirable thing for them to do. I hope they know how much it's appreciated."

Shapard is one of two Utes who are participating at the championships. She took 15th in the semifinals of the 400-meter hurdles on Thursday. She was running on the inside lane in the second heat, finishing with a time of 59.19.

"Chelsea didn't get out of the box very well and hit the first hurdle, which threw off her rhythm, and she spent the rest of the race playing catch-up," Utes coach Kyle Kepler said. "She ran hard and finished strong. This was her first time to make the semifinals, so this was a special deal for her."

Shapard is joined by teammate Josefin Berg, who finished 22nd in the hammer throw on Wednesday.

"It was such a great thing for them to do," BYU senior Carlee Clark-Platt said. "It's important that Chelsi and her family know we are thinking about them. It is such a classy thing for Chelsea and Josefin (Berg) to do."