BYU roundup: Cougar track adds more regional and national qualifiers at Last Chance meet
No. 8 BYU men’s track and field had four more athletes qualify for the NCAA regionals at the Last Chance meet at the Robison Track in Provo, while the No. 12 Cougar women’s team added two more qualifiers.
On the women’s side, Jessica Thompson punched her ticket to the regional meet with a personal-best throw of 16.27-meters/53-4.5 in the shot put. Thompson now ranks 27th in the West Region, surpassing Evangelynn Harrris of Arkansas State.
The junior from Plains, Montana also jumped to No. 2 all-time at BYU, tying teammate Gretchen Hoekstre. Only Amy Christiansen Palmer’s 17.71m/58-1.25 (1998) stands in Thompson and Hokestre’s way of a school record.
The women’s 4×400-meter relay squad entered the weekend with a season-best time of 3:39.47, two spots out of regional qualifying position. Meghan Hunter, Marianne Barber, Brilee Pontius and Claire Seymour blew past the previous-best to clock 3:33.85 and punched their ticket to regionals.
“Women’s 4×400 came through big time,” said BYU sprints coach Kyle Grossarth. “We were hoping they could run a 3:37 just to qualify for regionals, but then they almost broke the school record.”
With Saturday’s performance, the 4x400m squad ranks 18th in the West, surpassing Texas A&M’s “B” squad, and clears Penn’s squad for 25th nationally. Hunter, Barber, Pontius and Seymour also came close to cracking the school record of 3:33.30. Seymour, Hunter, Alena Ellsworth and Lauren Ellsworth-Barnes combined to set that record in 2021.
The men’s team saw Josh Taylor headline Cougars who broke into BYU top-10 territory with a resounding 45.76 race in the 400-meters. Taylor is just the seventh athlete to ever cross into the 45-second range at BYU in the event.
The performance moved him to solid qualifying position in the NCAA West region, tying with Felix Gamali (Arizona State) for 14th.
In the 100-meter dash, Dallin Draper tied Dave Reeves’ 56 year-old No. 10 time at BYU (10.25) to qualify for NCAA West Preliminaries. He currently stands at No. 26 in the region. In Easton’s Bianchi’s final home meet as a Cougar, the senior joined Draper in setting a personal best in the event as he zipped to a 10.31 qualifying time. Bianchi is now tied with three athletes for 38th in the region.
Jared Davis and Omar Aburouss also added new personal bests in the 100m at 10.60 and 10.85, respectively. Freshman Treyton Anderson’s first collegiate race in the event was a 10.60.
Ben Barton improved on his No. 6 all-time decathlon mark by 35 points, totaling 7,734 to hold his spot at 11th in the nation. Dallin Vorkink posted his best decathlon performance of the season with 7,615 points to vault ahead to 14th in the country, surpassing Alexander Jung of Kansas. The total qualifies Vorkink for a third consecutive nationals appearance. Per NCAA rules, decathletes bypass NCAA preliminaries. The senior placed first in three events Saturday, registering a 45.34m/148-09.75 in the discus throw, a 4.7m/15-5 in the pole vault, and a 4:34.68 in the 1,500-meters.
“This is the kind of last chance meet that you really want because you see people rise up in each category and do things well,” said BYU director of track & field Ed Eyestone. “I was super pleased with our sprinters and multis; getting Dallin [Vorkink] through to nationals was huge.”
Vorkink and Barton’s status as NCAA Nationals qualifiers marks the first time BYU has qualified two decathletes since Chase Dalton and Josh Weirich in 2014, and the sixth consecutive season for the program with at least one decathlete qualifying for nationals.
Freshman Brinton Paulson built upon early collegiate career success with a top-10 breakthrough, tossing the javelin for a 66.92m/219-6.75 mark en route to a No. 9 all-time BYU performance. He now moves to 21st in the region to lock in a qualifying spot.
“Our throwers are doing amazing things,” Eyestone said.
The Cougars will have a weekend off before the NCAA West Preliminaries begin in Sacramento, California on Wednesday, May 24.
BYU softball loses twice to Saint Mary’s
BYU softball was shut out in a doubleheader (2-0, 2-0) at Saint Mary’s to conclude its regular season slate at Cottrell Field on Saturday afternoon.
The Cougars (32-16, 11-4 WCC) tallied just seven hits between the two games and left a total of eight runners on base, with none advancing past second base. They were shut out in consecutive games for the first time all season.
BYU will now await the NCAA’s Selection Show that will air on Sunday, May 14 at 5 p.m. MDT on ESPN2 to determine its postseason fate.
Cougar baseball comes up short against Pacific
BYU baseball dropped game three of its series with Pacific, 11-5, Saturday afternoon at Klein Family Field in Stockton.
Despite the loss, the Cougars won the three-game series 2-1 and are now 22-27 (11-13 WCC) on the year, while Pacific improved to 14-31 (6-21).
“I thought we had plenty of chances early in the game to extend our lead but didn’t take advantage of those opportunities,” said BYU head coach Trent Pratt. “Later in the game we just didn’t make pitches when we needed to, and we gave up a couple of big innings that made it hard to come back from.”
Tyler Stout (4-3) picked up the win for Pacific, while Ben Hansen (0-4) took the loss for BYU.
The Cougars return home for the final series of the year, May 18-20, versus Pepperdine at Miller Park. The Friday and Saturday games are scheduled for 6 p.m. MDT, with the Saturday game at 1 p.m.
All three games will be broadcast live on the BYU Radio App and BYU Radio 107.9 FM in the northern Utah market. The games will also air on the BYUtv App, with the Friday and Saturday games being simulcast on BYUtv.