BYU senior Coutney Wayment lived up to her billing as the top 3,000-meter steeplechase runner in the country by winning her heat in 9:32.48, posting the fastest semifinal time in the NCAA Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., on Thursday.

Wayment led the race until the last lap, when Oregon’s Aneta Konieczek overtook her. Wayment kept running strong and grabbed the lead for good just moments later, winning by just under two seconds.

Wayment will run in Saturday’s final in an attempt to join Kassi Anderson (2003), Michaela Mannova (2002) and Elizabeth Jackson (2001) as BYU national champions in the steeplechase.

Junior Sara Musselman ran a personal best 9:55.61 in the race but finished 16th overall and did not qualify for the finals.

Senior Whittni Orton, the Cougars’ top 1,500-meter runner and ranked No. 3 in the nation, had a disappointing finish in her heat at 4:14.99. Needing to place in the top five to advance to the finals, Orton ended up sixth. She’ll have a chance to make up for that race on Saturday in the 5,000 meters, where she is the No. 1 ranked runner.

Senior Anna Camp-Bennett, who was No. 7 coming into the meet, ran in a very fast first heat and was second at 4:09.22, a new BYU record in the event. She’ll advance to Friday’s finals.

Senior Kate Hunter ran a personal best 4:13.45 but did not qualify for the finals.

Camp-Bennett clocked in at 2:03.95 in the third heat of the 800 meters, falling just 7/100ths of a second short of qualifying for the final. Junior Claire Seymour, ranked 16th coming into the race, finished third in her heat in a personal best 2:02.68 and will race in Saturday’s final.

The 4x400-meter relay team of freshman Meghan Hunter, senior Lauren Ellsworth-Barnes, Seymour and senior Alena Ellsworth ran a time of 3:37.05, fifth in their heat, 9th overall and two spots short of qualifying for the final.

Sophomore Dallin Vorkink ended up 17th in the decathlon with 6,388 points. The competition finished on Thursday. Vorkink led the final event, the 1,500 meters, on the final lap and ended up in third place with a personal best time of 4:26.83.

Competition continues on Friday, where the BYU men sent five athletes to the finals: Junior Dallin Shurts in the discus, senior Talem Francom in the 1,500 meters, senior Garrett Marsing in the steeplechase, senior Michael Bluth in the 400 meters and sophomore Casey Clinger in the 5,000 meters. The Cougars scored 10 points on Day 1 of the meet.

Follow Darnell Dickson on Twitter @darnellwrites or e-mail him at ddickson@heraldextra.com.

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