Rory Linkletter, Laura Young-Bluth and Whittni Orton broke school records and are three of the five Cougars that qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships this weekend as the Cougars wrapped up competition on Saturday at the Iowa State Classic and the Bronco Challenge.
“You know it has been a good meet when you have four people run under three of the official school records,” said head coach Ed Eyestone. “One of the main reasons we come to the Iowa State Classic is because we know we can run fast times with the paced races.”
Linkletter set a BYU record in the men’s 5,000m on Friday at the Iowa State Classic with a time of 13:41.01. Linkletter barely edged out teammate Daniel Carney who ran a 13:41.32 to also beat the previous record held by Olympian Jared Ward. Teammate Connor McMillan also ran a career best in the 5,000m with a time of 13:48.00. Linkletter and Carney secured spots for the NCAA Championships, and Eyestone believes McMillan ran well enough to possibly qualify as well.
Young-Bluth broke the BYU women’s 5,000m record on Friday in Iowa after clocking a 15:51.02. She beat Elizabeth Jackson’s record set back in 2000 by five seconds and secured her spot at the NCAA Championships.
Orton continued the record-breaking performances and NCAA qualifications at the Iowa State Classic on Saturday after competing in the women’s mile. Orton ran the mile in 4:34.88 to qualify for the NCAA Championships and broke the previous BYU record set by Shea Collinsworth during the 2017 season.
Abraham Alvarado was the fifth Cougar that should qualify for the NCAA Championships in Iowa. Alvarado competed in the 800m and ran a personal-best 1:47.98. Eyestone believes that Alvarado could have finished even faster, but Alvarado was slowed down after being tripped up by another athlete.
Along with those that qualified for the NCAA Championships, Eyestone was excited about the career bests and performances of others at the Iowa State Classic.
Lauren Rawlinson ran her career-best 55.87 in the 400m to finish seventh, while teammate Ellie Heiden-Quackenbush finished 12th with a time of 56.85. Ashleigh Warner competed in the women’s mile for BYU with Orton and finished seventh with a personal-best 4:43.3.
Eyestone was impressed with the throws by Dennis Christensen and Jefferson Jarvis in the men’s shot put. Christensen won the event with a throw of 17.42m and Jarvis finished second with a mark of 17.30m.
Eyestone noted the significant progress of having Brenna Porter (2:08.29), Anna Camp (2:09.81) and Sidney Unga (2:09.99) all finish the 800m in less than 2:10. Porter’s and Unga’s times set career bests in the 800m.
The Cougars’ success wasn’t limited to the Iowa State Classic as BYU had personal bests and season bests set at the Bronco Challenge in Nampa, Idaho, on Saturday.
“I thought that a lot of the kids did well. They got in some reps and got some good experience,” associate head coach Mark Robison said. “We didn’t get as many great marks, but now we have to start deciding on who is going to the MPSF Indoor Championships.”
Robison was particularly impressed with how many of the BYU jumpers competed. Rickey Fantroy set a career record in the triple jump with a distance of 14.93m, and teammate Blake Steeves jumped a season-best 7.30m in the long jump.
Haley Rogers broke her personal bests in the 60m dash (7.60) and 200m dash (24.08). She finished just before teammate Keesha Miller who ran a 7.66 in the 60m and 24.92 in the 200m. Teammate Nicole Laws-Lord finished in first place in the 60m hurdles for BYU with a season-best 8.67.
The Cougars travel next to Notre Dame, Indiana, to compete in the Alex Wilson Invitational on Saturday, Feb. 17. This will be the final track meet of the indoor regular season before the MPSF Championships and NCAA Championships.