BYU track and field NCAA West Preliminary Round Day 1

BYU's Connor Mantz (left, in white) competes in the 10,000 meters at the NCAA West Preliminary Round in College Station, Texas, on Wednesday, May 26, 2021.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – BYU track and field’s Cameron Bates, Conner Mantz and Zach McWhorter each advanced to the 2021 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in their respective events on the first day of the NCAA West Preliminary Round on Wednesday.

Bates was the first Cougar to earn his way to the national meet, placing in the top 12 of the men’s javelin. On his second toss of the day, the sophomore recorded a mark of 71.13m/233-4 to finish with the second-best throw of the competition to secure his qualifying spot. Bates is the first BYU men’s javelin thrower to advance to the championship meet since 2014.

Shortly after Bates punched his ticket, McWhorter guaranteed his spot at the NCAA Championships in the men’s pole vault. The two-time All-American and national runner-up at the 2021 NCAA Indoor Championships had to clear 5.45m/17-10.5 to clinch his position in the top 12. The last time BYU had a pole vaulter qualify for the outdoor championships was in 2015.

In the final event of the day, Mantz weathered an aggressive 10,000m race to give the BYU men’s team its third national qualifier of the day. The 2021 NCAA Cross Country Champion battled to the front of the pack before finishing third overall with a time of 29:10.91. The junior has now qualified for three consecutive outdoor championships in the 10,000m.

Along with three national qualifiers, the Cougars also had five athletes advance to their respective quarterfinals on Wednesday.

Three BYU 1500m runners moved on to Friday’s quarterfinal. All-American Lucas Bons finished in the top three of his heat to automatically qualify (3:43.47) and All-American Talem Franco won his heat to advance (3:45.42). After leading his heat a majority of the race, Aidan Troutner got tripped up from behind and fell to the ground. Following a successful protest, he automatically advances to Friday’s quarterfinal at 5:45 CDT.

In the men’s 400m, All-American Michael Bluth took second place in his heat with a time of 46.14 to advance to Friday’s final at 7:20 p.m. CDT. Colten Yardley ran a 50.60 in the 400m hurdles to finish second in his heat and move on to the quarterfinal at 7:55 p.m. on Friday.

Caleb Witsken came just short of advancing to the championship meet in the men’s pole vault with McWhorter. The All-American matched his outdoor personal record of 5.40m/17-8.5 and finished outside the top 12 due to missed attempts.

Elijah Armstrong ran a career-best 3:50.55 in the first round of the 1500m, coming short of moving on to the next round. However, he will have an opportunity to qualify for nationals on Friday in the 5000m.

Jesus Serrano ran a 51.46 to finish fourth in his heat of the 400m hurdles, just one spot outside of the automatic qualifying position. In the men’s 200m, Landon Maxfield clocked a season-best 20.97 and Dallin Draper ran a 21.53.

The Cougars had two other javelin throwers compete along with Bates. Michael Whittaker finished 22nd overall with a throw of 62.54m/205-2 while Max Tooley placed 33rd with a toss of 60.15m/197-4.

Connor Weaver and Michael Ottesen both joined Mantz in the 10,000m, finishing with times of 30:42.19 and 31:08.05. The duo will complete the 5K-10K double, racing in the 5000m on Friday at 8:30 p.m.

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

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