The BYU track and field team travels to New York City to compete in the Dr. Sander Invitational and Columbia Challenge at the Armory Track. Events begin Friday, Jan. 26, and finish Saturday, Jan. 27.
“The Columbia Challenge will be a really fun challenge for us,” said head coach Ed Eyestone. “There are a number of very good schools competing. It is always fun to run against new competition at a venue that most of the team has not competed at before.”
The Columbia Challenge will feature 15 of the top track and field teams in the country, including top 25-ranked BYU, Oregon, Ohio State, South Carolina and Wisconsin. The Dr. Sander Invitational will feature races that include professionals and some of the top collegiate athletes.
“Our goal going in is to try to get qualifying marks for the NCAA Indoor Championships,” Eyestone said. “Fast times can be ran at the Armory, especially against this type of competition.”
Eyestone expects to see both the men’s and women’s teams compete well in the distance medley relay (DMR) on Friday. The women’s team qualified for nationals last year, while the men’s team barely missed qualifications.
All-Americans Rory Linkletter and Connor McMillan will make their season debuts at the Armory. Linkletter, a junior, and McMillan, a senior, will compete on BYU’s men’s DMR team on Friday, and both have also been selected to compete in the men’s 3,000m on Saturday in the Dr. Sander Invitational.
Senior Marcus Dickson has also been selected to compete in the fast-paced Dr. Sander Invitational in the mile. Eyestone understands that Linkletter, McMillan and Dickson would most likely place higher in the Columbia Challenge, but he still expects all three to compete well in the mixed professional and collegiate sections.
BYU's distance runners did not make the trip to the Air Force Team Challenge last week so this will be their first opportunity of the season for them to travel. Eyestone is excited for senior Laura Young Bluth to debut. Bluth was a top distance runner for BYU last season in both the women's 3,000m and 5,000m events.
Eyestone also expects junior Andrea Stapleton Johnson to perform well this weekend in the high jump. Johnson has improved her marks at every meet this indoor season and jumped a season-high 1.80m last week at the Air Force Team Challenge.
BYU will have close to 50 athletes competing in New York City at the Armory Track. A group of athletes from both the men's and women's team not traveling to New York will head up I-15 to Odgen, Utah, to compete in the Wildcat Open at Weber State on Friday and Saturday.
Follow BYU track and field on Twitter at @BYUTFXC to stay updated on the action. The schedule and live stats can be found on the Armory's website. RunnerSpace.com will be streaming a live feed of the Columbia Challenge for subscribers, and the entire meet will also be broadcasted live on USATF.tv. NBCSN will televise the meet on tape delay at 5 p.m. EST.