I’m optimistic and excited because we’re taking our biggest group since the programs have been combined. —BYU head coach Ed Eyestone
PROVO — Local collegiate programs will be sending 20 athletes to the NCAA Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon, beginning Wednesday, June 7, and concluding on Saturday, June 10.
BYU will be sending the majority of those set to compete — 15 athletes in all to compete in 17 events.
“I’m optimistic and excited because we’re taking our biggest group since the programs have been combined,” BYU head coach Ed Eyestone said. “It’s a big deal just to make it. Our student-athletes want to do more than just make it — they are trying to improve on their ranked position going in.”
The men's side of the team will be sending 11 of BYU's 15 participants to compete in 13 combined events — fourth most of any program in the country.
Leading the men are junior Tatenda Tsumba, who will compete in both the 100 and 200 meters, and sophomore Clayton Young, who will run both the 5,000 and 10,000 meter events. Joining Young in the 10,000 meters will be sophomore Rory Linkletter.
The Cougars will be most-represented in the 3,000 meter steeplechase, where husband-wife duo Mitchell Briggs and Kristi Rush-Briggs will compete, along with Daniel Carney and Jacob Heslington.
Shea Collinsworth leads the women's side of the competition, and will again run in 800 meters after recording the fourth-fastest time in the country.
Other BYU participants include Whittni Orton (1,500m), Andrea Stapleton (high jump), Chase Horrocks (1,500m), Max Scheible (400m hurdles), Korey Smith (400m hurdles), Zachary Stetler (shot put) and Jackson Walker (decathlon.)
Utah State will be represented by four athletes, including two who participated in the championships last year. Those two are AJ Boully (400m hurdles) and Clay Lambourne (800m.)
“It means a lot to me,” said Lambourne. “It gives me a good opportunity to run a fast time and prove that I can run with the best guys in the NCAA...If I run the way I know I can, I’m confident that I can make the final (on Friday). The final is going to be fast, so as long as I’m in the race I’ll be able to run something fast.”
The other two Aggie participants will be Brenn Flint (shot put) and Sindri Gudmundsson (javelin).
“Anytime we go to the NCAA Finals, it’s a great thing for both the athletes that are going and the program,” said Utah State head coach Gregg Gensel. “What a place to go, historic Hayward Field. It’s an exciting time.”
The lone representative from the University of Utah will be junior Grayson Murphy, who will compete in the 3000 meter steeplechase.
"Grayson's the last Ute standing this year," said Utah coach Kyle Kepler. "It's always fun for us when we have somebody competing this time of the year. She's excited to represent Utah as the final student-athlete of the season. Hopefully we can do it right and make something special happen. She's done it all year."
Competition begins Wednesday, with the opening events beginning at 12:30 p.m. PDT at Hayward Field. Each event will be broadcast on ESPN networks, and additional coverage and information can also be found at NCAA.com.