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Cougars place 3rd in region

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. — Led by Nathan Robison and Bryan Lindsay's one-two finish in the 1,500 meters, the BYU men's track & field team finished third at the NCAA West Regional on Saturday. The Cougars finished behind second-place USC by just 2.5 points. The BYU women, fueled by championship performance from Kamila Rywelska in the triple jump, finished fourth behind UCLA, USC and Stanford.

"I couldn't be happier," BYU men's coach Mark Robison said. "With just an adjustment here or there, we would have finished second real easily. The kids came here and really went after it. We have qualified several guys for nationals and now have a chance to make some noise (at nationals) with so many kids going. It's going to be fun."

Requiring a fifth-place finish or better in most events in order to advance to the NCAA National Outdoor Championships in June, the Cougars qualified a total of 17 athletes this weekend, including 10 men and seven women. The Cougars will also send athletes to the national championships in the decathlon, heptathlon and 10,000 meters. Those events were not contested at the regional competition.

Other athletes may be added to the list of competitors based upon provisional qualifying marks. An official list of competitors will be announced Tuesday.

Sitting on the pole position in the 1,500 meters, junior Nathan Robison took the early lead and waited for someone to jump up and take the lead from him. After 300 meters, Utah's Nephi Taylor took the lead for a brief stint. Two hundred meters later, Robison regained the lead and continued to set the pace. Meanwhile, junior Bryan Lindsay was content to sit near the back of the congested pack.

With Robison in the lead and Lindsay 10 meters back, sitting in ninth place, the Orem native shifted gears.

Lindsay turned in a 53.1 second final 400 meters, but it was not enough to catch Robison who was clocked at 53.9 over his final 400 meters.

Robison managed to hold Lindsay off to win the event in a time of 3:44.56. Lindsay was clocked at 3:52.21.

In the women's competition, sophomore Kamila Rywelska claimed the only individual title for the women, winning the triple jump with a distance of 42-08.

After qualifying for nationals in the long jump on Friday, freshman Amy Menlove turned in a fifth-place performance in the 100-meter hurdles to qualify for the national championships with a time of 13.60.

Junior high jumper Lindsey Metcalf also earned a trip to the national championships — her third — with a clearance of 5-10.50 in the event.

Metcalf finished fifth in the event behind four others who all cleared the six-foot mark.

In the 3,000-meter steeplechase, the Cougars represented the 2002 and 2003 NCAA National Outdoor champions in the event. Andersen, the 2003 national champion finished second in a personal-best 9:44.68.

Michaela Mannova, the 2002 national champion finished third with a time of 9:54.18. Both Andersen and Mannova qualified for the national championships next month in Austin, Texas.

In the pole vault, sophomore Robison Pratt finished tied for second with a mark of 17-07. With his performance, Pratt will represent BYU in his second straight NCAA National Championship meet.

Senior Greg Flint finished third in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 50.59, while junior Kansas Whitear clocked a lifetime best of 51.31 to finish in the fifth and final qualifying spot in the event.

Junior Lars Kjerengtroen gave new meaning to the term "a split second." In the 800 meters, Kjerengtroen and Washington's Todd Arnold were caught in a photo finish, battling for the fifth and final qualifying spot. After the public address announcer had claimed Arnold the fifth-place winner, the judges went back to review the electronic image of the finish. After further review, meet officials determined Kjerengtroen had edged Arnold by one-thousandth (.0001) of a second. As a result, Kjerengtroen earned the fifth and final qualifying spot.

UTAH: Utah's Nellie Hammons qualified in the 800 meter by finishing fourth (2:06.97) overall. Her mark is not only a new personal record but also a school record, making it the second school record set at this meet. Friday, Vanessa Mortensen set a school record in the hammer and qualified for the championship meet.

UTAH STATE: As of now, Ryan Bruhn is USU's only automatic qualifier for the NCAA Championships. Bruhn finished third in the hammer throw on Friday with a distance of 60.78 meters (199 feet and five inches).

SOUTHERN UTAH: Junior Alisha Bezanson broke the four-year-old school record in the 1,500-meters with a time of 4:25.56 to place ninth in the region.

WEBER STATE: Weber State junior Wiley King qualified for the NCAA Championships by finishing fourth in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.06. He was the only Wildcat to automatically qualify.