Nate Edwards, BYU Photo
Clayson Shumway runs in the 3,000m steeplechase at the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Kevin Nielsen earned season-best marks in his first five decathlon events as BYU track and field began competition Wednesday at the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

"Kevin probably had his best first day in the decathlon ever," BYU head coach Ed Eyestone said. "If he can follow it up with another great performance on the second day, he stands a very good chance of being a first-team All-American."

Nielsen excelled in the first day of the decathlon and ended the day positioned in ninth place with 4,103 points. He kicked off competition clocking a career-best 10.93 in the 100m and a season-best 7.42m long jump. Nielsen continued his impressive performances with a career-best 12.75m in the shot put, a season-best 2.01m in the high jump and a 49.30 in the 400m to match his season best. The decathlon will finish Thursday with the 110m hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1,500m.

"Our steeplechasers did a great job in automatic qualifying for the steeplechase final," Eyestone said. "Shumway ran a very smart race and didn't have to do as much leading as he's done in the past."

Clayson Shumway and Matt Owens finished in the top five of their respective heats to advance to the men's 3,000m steeplechase final Friday at 5:54 p.m. PDT. Shumway ran an 8:39.97 to take second in both his heat and overall. Owens finished fourth in his heat and 10th overall with a time of 8:42.35 to clinch his spot in the final.

Connor McMillan received second-team All-America honors after taking 12th place (29:32.65) in the men's 10,000m final Wednesday night. Teammates Conner Mantz (31:37.34), Clayton Young (31:37.54) and Rory Linkletter (31:37.69) crossed the line together to place 22-24 for the Cougars. Linkletter, McMillan and Young will all compete again in the men's 5,000m on Friday at 5:54 p.m.

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"The 10,000m was a tough evening for our crew, but I'm very pleased with their effort," Eyestone said. "They've run extremely well all season long and that can be part of the problem because, when you run your third 10K of the season, you may just not have it. I expect that Connor, Rory and Clayton will go out and do the very best that they can on Friday in the 5,000m. Sometimes you have a bad outing and you have to come back to show it was a fluke."

Whittni Orton will kick things off for the BYU women's team in the 1,500m semifinal on Thursday at 4:16 p.m., and will be followed by Alyssa Dalton in the 100m hurdles semifinal. Ashton Riner will compete in the javelin final with Brenna Porter in the 400m hurdles semifinal and the women's 4x400m semifinal concluding the second day of the NCAA Championship meet for the Cougars.