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Nate Edwards, BYU Photo
Kristi Rush-Briggs (right-center) hands off the baton to Madelyn Dickson (left-center) during the women's DMR finals at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Track Championships in College Station, Texas.

Rory Linkletter earned All-American First-Team honors, while Whittni Orton and Abraham Alvarado advanced to their individual finals on the first day of the NCAA Indoor Championships on Friday, March 9.

“It was a really good day for us overall,” BYU head coach Ed Eyestone said. “We scored points to get on the board and had a couple athletes advance to compete in finals on the last day of the championships.”

Orton advanced to the women’s mile final after finishing fourth in her heat with a time of 4:38.33. After being boxed in early in the race, she repositioned herself to clinch an automatic qualifying spot. Orton ran the fourth-best time in the prelims and will compete in the mile final on Saturday at 4:20 p.m. CST.

Alvarado ran a season-best time in the 800m (1.47.75) to finish third in his heat and claimed one of the heat’s four automatic qualifying spots. He used an impressive kick down the final stretch to pass other competitors on the outside to finish third. Alvarado ran the third-fastest time of the prelims and will compete in the 800m final on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

“Abe ran a very smart and tactical race,” Eyestone said. “He ran one of the fastest final 200m out of everyone qualifying. He ended up in a strong position for the day tomorrow.”

Linkletter, Connor McMillan and Daniel Carney all ran in the men’s 5,000m finals for the Cougars. Linkletter set the pace early on and led the pack for the first mile and a half of the race. He ended up finishing sixth overall with a time of 14:16.88 and received All-American First-Team honors. Both McMillan and Carney received All-American Second-Team Honors after finishing 13th (14:18.87) and 15th (14:22.90), respectively.

“It was a very slow, conservative race,” Eyestone said. “Rory was in great position when things picked up at the end, but he stumbled and almost went down with 500 meters to go. He showed some determination and rallied to finish very strong.”

Andrea Stapleton-Johnson competed for the Cougars in the women’s high jump and cleared 1.76m to finish tied for 15th. The junior cleared 1.76m on her third attempt but failed to clear 1.81m to advance in the competition. She earned All-American Second-Team honors at the NCAA Indoor Championships for the second year in a row.

The women’s DMR team wrapped up the first day of competition for BYU with an eighth-place finish and earned All-American First-Team honors. Ashleigh Warner started the race off for the Cougars running the 1,200m leg in 3:25.65. Brenna Porter received the baton and ran a 53.73 split in the 400m leg. Kristi Rush-Briggs ran the 800m leg in 2:07.00 before handing off the baton to Madelyn Dickson for the final leg. Dickson ran the 1,600m anchor leg in 4:41.24, and the team finished with a total time of 11:07.60.

The men’s team ended the day with three points scored, and the women’s team finished with one point. Both teams have the opportunity to score Saturday with Orton and Alvarado set to compete in their finals.

The championships will continue to be streamed online on WatchESPN, and a schedule of the remainder of the meet can be found on the NCAA website. Follow BYU track and field on Twitter @BYUTFXC to keep up with the action.

Braden Taylor works as a Sports Information Director for BYU Athletics. Contact him at: wtrack_sid@byu.edu or bradenjt@gmail.com