PROVO — BYU has a long tradition of world-class track and field athletes and, as a result, school records are difficult to achieve. So how do you explain what happened this season? Five school records fell in a matter of 10 weeks, courtesy of four athletes.
It is indicative of the quality of the records and the difficulty of breaking them that all of the records were long-standing marks. There was one more common thread in the record binge: All but one of them was accomplished by an athlete whose mother or father had competed for BYU.
— Andrea Stapleton-Johnson, a senior from Washington, broke Melinda Boice-Hale’s 25-year-old record in the high jump by a quarter inch with a leap of 6-2¼ — which is also the No. 1 collegiate jump in the country this season. Her father Dave set the men’s school record of 7-5½ in 1983 — a record that stands 36 years later.
— Brenna Porter, a senior from Smithfield, Cache County, broke Julie Bennion’s 20-year-old record in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 56.89. Her mother, Jodie Bendorf, is a former BYU hurdler.
— Erica Birk-Jarvis, a senior from Hoytsville, Summit County, broke Whitney McDonald’s 12-year-old record in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 15:38.12, and broke NCAA champion Kassi Andersen’s 3,000-meter steeplechase record with a time of 9:42.54. Birk-Jarvis also set three school records during the indoor season. Birk’s mother, Nicole, still holds the school record in the 3,000-meter run (a discontinued event) and earned All-American honors.
— Jaslyn Gardner, a freshman from Enterprise, Washington County, broke Windy Jorgensen’s 22-year-old record in the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.38.1 comment on this story
To put all this in perspective, only one of 19 individual school records fell the previous eight seasons — the pole vault in 2015. Eleven of those 19 records are between 19 and 35 years old.
Ask head coach Ed Eyestone about the record assault and he points to the arrival of two new coaches the last few years — Stephani Perkins (sprints) and Diljeet Taylor (distance) — and the work of veteran Mark Robison (high jump).
“We have passionate, hard-working coaches and a great tradition, and all those things came together this season," he said. "And success begets success. We hope other kids will see this and want to be a part of it.”