Nate Edwards, BYU Photo
Rory Linkletter (front) wins the men's 10,000m at the NCAA West Prelims to advance to the NCAA Championships in Eugene Oregon for the second year in a row.

Rory Linkletter won the 10,000m as BYU track and field had six athletes qualify for nationals on the first day of the NCAA West Preliminary Round on Thursday in Sacramento, California.

“I can’t say we were surprised by any of the outstanding performances today,” BYU head coach Ed Eyestone said. “All of those individuals have demonstrated throughout the course of the season what they’re capable of. But it still shows the character and determination they have to come through in high-pressure situations.”

Linkletter finished with a 29:14.29 to take first place and advance to the 2018 NCAA Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon, on June 6-9. Connor McMillan (29:14.91) took third, Clayton Young (29:16.08) placed ninth and Conner Mantz (29:16.78) finished 11th giving the Cougars four national qualifiers in the men’s 10,000m.

“When you have four guys running in the 10,000m ranked in the top 12, it adds even more pressure,” Eyestone said. “I’m very proud of how all four of them were able to finish and qualify for nationals.”

Freshman Ashton Riner was the first Cougar of the day to first punch a ticket to the NCAA Track and Field Championships. Riner threw the javelin for 50.21m on her opening throw of the meet, which was good enough to finish 11th overall.

Andrea Stapleton-Johnson qualified to compete in the high jump at nationals for the second year in a row. She took first place with a clearance of 1.80m and didn’t miss a jump in the meet. Eyestone credits Stapleton-Johnson’s success to her increased confidence and improved skill.

Several Cougars advanced to the quarterfinals of their respective events at regionals putting themselves in position to qualify for the NCAA Championships on Friday or Saturday.

Max Scheible (50.91) and Scott Mecham (51.03) finished in the top three in their respective heats of the 400m hurdles to advance to the quarterfinal on Friday at 7 p.m. PDT. Brenna Porter won her heat in the 400m hurdles with a time of 57.44 to qualify for Friday’s quarterfinal at 7:15 p.m.

Abraham Alvarado (1:49.48) won his heat in the 800m to guarantee his spot in the quarterfinal (Friday at 6:30 p.m.).

Talem Franco placed third in his 1,500m heat to earn his spot in the next round with a time of 3:51.96. Whittni Orton (4:21.86) and Anna Camp (4:26.70) finished top five in the 1,500m to advance to Saturday’s quarterfinal. The men’s 1,500m quarterfinal will start on Saturday at 6 p.m. and will be followed by the women’s quarterfinal.

“Tomorrow we’re looking forward to having some athletes competing who are ranked very high in their events,” Eyestone said. “I think we’ve got a chance to qualify another handful of athletes for the NCAA Championships.”

The West Preliminaries continue Saturday as BYU athletes compete in the men’s discus, 800m, 400m hurdles, 200m and 3,000m steeplechase, as well as the women’s pole vault, 100m hurdles, 400m hurdles, 200m and 3,000m steeplechase.

For a table containing Thursday's full results, visit byucougars.com. Competition will continue to be streamed on FloTrack.org, and live updates will be posted on the BYU track and field team’s Twitter account @BYUTFXC. Heat sheets, the meet schedule and live stats can be found on NCAA.com.

Braden Taylor works as a Sports Information Director for BYU Athletics. Contact him at: [email protected] or [email protected]