BYU/UVU roundup: Cougars send 21 to NCAA finals, four Wolverines qualify
No. 14 BYU women’s track and field concluded NCAA West Preliminary action at John McDonnell Field on Saturday, punching five more tickets to Eugene for a total of nine national qualifiers. Including the 12 qualifiers on the men’s side, the Cougars qualified 21 total entries.
Sable Lohmeier El-Bakri led off the day for BYU in the discus throw. Competing in the second of three flights, the junior quickly rose to first place with an opening throw of 54.52m/178-10. On her third throw, Lohmeier El-Bakri launched a school record-breaking throw of 56.31m/184-2, a mark that would be good for No. 7 in the event, to clinch her a trip to Nationals.
Cierra Tidwell-Allphin also earned national qualification, finishing in a three-way tie for first place in the high jump with a mark of 1.81m/5-11.25. Making it to Eugene for the second-straight season, she cleared both 1.71m/5-7.25 and 1.76m/5-9.25 on her first attempt as well.
“Going into today, we figured that she would have to clear 1.81-meters to qualify for Nationals,” BYU assistant coach Mark Robison said. “She couldn’t have done any better. This was probably her best outdoor meet of the season. It was good for her to have this performance going into Nationals because now she knows she’s right there in the hunt for a national title.”
Both Courtney Wayment and Lexy Halladay qualified in the 3000-meter steeplechase. Racing in heat two, Halladay posted a 10:06.15 to finish third in her heat and seize an automatic qualification. Wayment competed in heat three and surged to the front of the pack early, breaking away during the final laps to finish over five seconds ahead of the next runner at 9:42.32 and qualify in the event for the second year in a row.
“Coming to this race, I just wanted to be grateful because this is my last opportunity to compete at a West Preliminary,” Wayment said. “The steeplechase is a lot of fun and that was my goal tonight; to have a lot of fun. At the NCAA Championships I just need to put my head down, listen to Coach Taylor and know that it’s my last collegiate race so I’m going to make it the best that I can.”
Claire Seymour punched her ticket to Nationals in the 800-meters, running a 2:03.01. After a 1:01.08 first lap split, the junior surged around the final turn to take second in the third heat and automatically qualify, earning a trip to Eugene in the event in back-to-back seasons.
“I’m super proud of the girls’ effort, “BYU associate director of track and field Diljeet Taylor said. “Obviously at a meet like the West Preliminary some things are going to go your way and others aren’t. We had a couple of women who were right outside qualifying and that’s always gut-wrenching. I’m just super proud of the women for showing up, competing and fighting for their spot. I look forward to two weeks from now when we can showcase what’s been a phenomenal year. We’re hoping to end the season in Eugene on a high note.”
UVU wrapped up the week at the NCAA Division I West Preliminary Rounds on Saturday with Hannah Branch, Everlyn Kemboi and Mazzie Melaney Preston competing in the 5,000-meter race.
Branch finished in 23rd overall with Melaney Preston was right behind her in 24th and Kemboi finished 28th. Branch and Melaney Preston both ran in the first of two heats, finishing 11th and 12th, respectively, while Kemboi landed in 13th in her heat. The top five from each heat and the next two best times advanced to NCAA Nationals.
On Thursday, Branch and Kemboi both punched their tickets to the 10k finals in Eugene, Oregon, with Adam Bunker (3k steeplechase) and Aaron Johnson (long jump) joining them. The female duo represents the first-ever UVU women’s team members to advance to the NCAA Outdoor Finals while the four student-athletes going to nationals are the most in program history.
Bunker set a school record on Friday in the 3k and slid into the 12th and final spot while Johnson registered the fifth-best jump on Wednesday to earn his bid.
The Cougars and Wolverines will have a week to prepare before traveling to Eugene, Oregon, for the 2022 NCAA Division 1 Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Wednesday through Saturday, June 8-11.