WOMEN'S INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD: Rachel Brooke Fisher broke the all-time BYU record in the pole vault with a mark of 4.25 meters to earn All-MWC honors at the MWC Championships on Friday, as the Cougar women's team finished in first PLACE after the first full day of competition at Albuquerque, N.M.
Fisher, only a freshman, automatically qualified for the NCAAs and finished second only to San Diego State's Stephanie James, who set a conference-record height of 5.30 meters.
"It was really nice to jump well," Fisher said. "I didn't expect to really do this well, so it's great. I felt rested and well-prepared and it finally came together in a meet."
Mindy McClurkin also set a school record in the preliminaries of the 60-meter dash, reaching the finish line in 7.43 seconds to easily qualify for today's final. McClurkin also earned All-Conference honors for herself and eight points for her team in the long jump, going 6.32 meters. The senior will also participate in the 200-meter finals after recording the fastest time in qualifying.
"We qualified about everywhere we had planned on," said BYU head coach Craig Poole. "Our objective was to score as strong as possible, so we deployed our team maybe not in the strongest combination for NCAA, but for the strongest combination to win points."
BYU claimed 19 points in the 5,000-meter race alone, finishing second, third and fourth. Junior Katie Bowen and freshman Nicole Nielsen earned All-Conference honors, while sophomore Katy Andrews finished .02 behind Nielsen for fourth overall.
The Cougars are comfortably in first place with 72 points, more than twice as many as TCU and San Diego State, both of which finished the first day with 30 points.
Junior Leli Fotu, junior Deezbaa Whaley and sophomore Cassandra Woodall all earned points for BYU in the weight throw. Fotu placed fourth, Whaley sixth and Woodall seventh with a personal-best throw of 16.86 meters.
In the relays, Sarah Yingling, Mindy Robins, Lacey Cramer and Sarah Edwards combined to place second in the distance medley relay and earn All-Conference honors.
BYU dominated the 800-meter qualifying, taking four of the top six spots. Nachelle Stewart, defending national and conference champion Cramer and Angela Wagner took the top three spots with Nichole Clark qualifying at sixth overall.
Senior Amy Otis placed first in 60-meter hurdle qualifying, with sophomore Fatima Makakala finishing fourth to also advance to the finals.
Also moving on to finals competition were Natalie Stewart in the 400 meters and Porshe Giddings in the 60-meter dash and 200 meters.
MEN'S INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD: Phillip Bettis, Leif Arrhenius and Trevor Heiner each earned back-to-back MWC championships in their respective events, giving the BYU men's track and field team the team lead after the first full day of competition at the Mountain West Conference Indoor Championships on Friday at Albuquerque, N.M.
Bettis took the championship in the pentathlon with 5,489 points, almost 100 points better than when the junior won the same event last season. Bettis started off the morning with a personal-best 8.21 in the 60-meter hurdles to place first in the event, then pushed his lead higher by finishing out in the pole vault and 1,000-meter run.
The junior's 5,489 points is a career-high, good for second all-time at BYU, third all-time in MWC history and currently 14th-best in the nation this year.
On the field, Trevor Heiner jumped 2.10 meters, the junior's best mark of the season and a higher mark than the 2.08 meters he used to win the event at last year's championships. With Heiner's win, BYU has won the event 9 of the last 11 years.
"I'm probably more happy with jumping 2.10," Heiner said, who set a new season high. "I've been jumping at that mark all indoor season and been close so many times so to finally get over that barrier feels really good. The competition was fun."
Junior Leif Arrhenius claimed his second-straight championship in the weight throw with a toss of 20.91 meters, 21/2 meters better than the next-best competitor.
Oliver Whaley finished third in the weight throw with an 18.35 meters, adding six points to the team score.
In the 5,000 meters, Nathan Ogden set a lifetime best in the senior's final indoor championship, garnering All-MWC honors with a third-place finish. Ogden's time putts him in 11th place in the nation in the event and has automatically qualified him for the NCAAs.
Jon Kotter, who qualified for NCAAs earlier in the season, finished seventh in the 5,000 meters to earn two team points.
The Cougars sit in first place with 63.50 points after six events scored. Wyoming is second with 53 points, while challengers New Mexico and TCU have 43.50 and 21 points, respectively.
"We're still okay, but we have to come better tomorrow across the board," said BYU head coach Mark Robison. "We've just got to come with a little bit better attitude of stepping up."
Brett Birkeland and John Reilly also earned points for BYU in the pentathlon thanks to career-best point totals. Birkeland finished tied for fifth, while Reilly rounded out the top eight.
In the long jump finals, junior Aaron Powell, sophomore Myller DeAraujo and sophomore Kyle Mills all picked up points, finishing 5-6-7 in the event, led by Powell's jump of 7.07 meters.
The Cougars set themselves up for the final day of competition today in the middle distances, including two athletes who qualified for two separate finals.
Senior Bryan Payne qualified in the 400 meters, finishing with the third-best time of the day. Payne also advanced to the finals of the 60-meter hurdles.
Sophomore Rhyan Atrice also qualified for the 400-meter and 200-meter finals.
Senior Kevin Biesinger will join Payne and Atrice in the 400-meter final, while James Jeiner, Justin Hedin and Brian Weirich will all compete in the 800 meters.
Other finals include the shot put, pole vault, triple jump, mile, 3,000 meters and 4x400 (mile) relay. Action starts with the men's shot put at 9:45 a.m. MT and will end around 1:40 p.m. MT with the men's 4x400 (mile) relay.
MEN'S TENNIS: The Cougars earned their 10th win of the season Friday against the University of San Francisco. BYU beat the Dons 4-1 to improve their record to 10-1.
"Having 10 wins this early in the season is a great tribute to the guys," BYU coach Brad Pearce said. "Their hard work and effort started in the fall."
In pairs play, a similar story unfolded on all three courts. As the Cougars settled in, they got ahead in each of the matches, but the Dons would not back down. Cassidy Mears and Thomas Shubert were the first doubles team to record a win. On the remaining courts, BYU led 7-5. At both the Nos. 2 and 3 positions, USF was allowed one more game before being defeated 8-6 and the Cougars went into the break up by one.
"We've been fortunate to get some close wins early in the season and our confidence is growing," Pearce said. "The guys expect to win and that's a good thing."
BYU's momentum continued in singles play with the Cougars easily winning three matches to earn their 10th win of the season. Evan Urbina, Georgy Batrakov and Mears each handily defeated their respective opponents in straight sets to secure the four points necessary for the victory.
San Francisco's only win of the match came at the No. 1 position where Thai Tu defeated Shubert 7-5, 6-3. Smith and Hwang closed out the contest, notching two more singles wins for the Cougars to secure the 6-1 decision.
"It was good to get a match under our belts in preparation for a good Boise State team," Pearce said.
BYU will challenge No. 29 Boise State today at 5:30 p.m. at the BYU Indoor Tennis Courts located south of the Smith Fieldhouse. Admission is free and the team will provide pizza and prizes for fans. All BYU "Y Lot" parking lots are open to the public all day Saturday.
WOMEN'S TENNIS: After a long, difficult match, the Cougars suffered a narrow defeat against Arizona on Friday at Provo. BYU, now 3-5 on the season, barely missed out on an upset in the 4-3 decision.
"It was another tough match," BYU coach Joey Johnson said. "We had several opportunities. We're right there."
Kristina Doerr and Romina Nedakovic swiftly defeated their opponents 8-3 at the No. 2 position to earn the first doubles victory. On court one, it was a battle between two ranked pairs. BYU's No. 27 McCall Jones and Megan Price struggled against No. 42 Natasha Marks and Alexandria Naydenova but eventually won the match 8-6 to secure the doubles point. Chie Hayaska and Elle Carney quickly followed with a win of their own to complete the pairs sweep.
"The good thing is we showed that we can play on their level," Johnson said. "We're on the edge and we need to keep pushing ahead."
In singles, Arizona's Sarah Landsman put the Wildcats right back in the match with a straight-set win at the No. 2 spot. Jones returned the favor with her victory over Marks on court one.
Hayasaka and Price both split sets but finally fell in the third to put Arizona within one point of the victory.
Carney kept hope alive for BYU with a 6-3, 6-4 win at the No. 6 position to tie things up. Nedakovic, the last Cougar on the court, rolled through her first set 6-4 but dropped the second 6-1. Despite her best efforts, the sophomore fell 2-6 in the third set, and the Wildcats notched another win.
"We know we're capable of playing with higher-ranked teams," Johnson said. "We're glad for another opportunity to show that Saturday against DePaul."
BYU will return to the court to play No. 22 DePaul today. The match starts at 10 a.m. at the BYU Indoor Tennis Courts located south of the Smith Fieldhouse. Admission is free and all BYU "Y Lot" parking lots are open to the public all day Saturday.
BASEBALL: Three outs away from completing the fifth inning, BYU led UC Davis 7-1 before rain caused the baseball game to be suspended Friday at Davis, Calif.
Play is anticipated to resume this afternoon or earlier, depending on the weather. If the game does not get completed, it would negate some good numbers for the Cougars.
Brandon Relf walked and Jonathan Cluff belted a two-out triple to score him for the Cougars. Ryan Bernal lined a single to center field to score Cluff, putting the Cougars up 2-0 after the first inning.
BYU loaded the bases in the fifth through singles, bunts and an error as Relf's single scored Dane Nielsen to make the score 3-1. Then Bernal hit a two-run single to score Sean McNaughton and Relf. Austin Hall's double scored Cluff to make it 7-1.
Both Cluff and Bernal were 2-for-3 with multiple RBIs.
"I wish we could have gotten three more outs," said BYU coach Vance Law. "Chunner (Nyberg) pitched well today. We got a couple of clutch hits and a couple of two-out RBI."
GYMNASTICS: With in-state supremacy on the line, the BYU gymnastics team posted its third-highest score of the season Friday night against Utah but came up just short, 195.925-194.375, in the gymnastics installment of the Deseret First Duel at Provo.
"We're moving in the right direction," said BYU head coach Brad Cattermole. "We had three really good events tonight and just made some mistakes on the fourth. I was pleased with our effort. If we can continue improving, we'll be fine."
The Cougars got off to a solid start in the meet with a 48.975 on the vault, their second-highest score of the season on that event. Four BYU gymnasts scored 9.800 or higher to propel the Cougars. BYU saved the best for last with marks of 9.825 from senior Megan Donehue and sophomore Natalie Eyre. Utah began the meet on the bars with a score of 49.000, resulting in a difference of just .025 between the two teams after the first event.
Utah was able to create some distance in the second rotation as the Cougars got off to a slow start on the bars while the Utes posted their second-highest mark of the season on the vault (49.250). McKell Poulson-Merkley tallied the high score for BYU on the bars with a 9.800 while Madeleine Johnson and Donehue each notched 9.775s to contribute to a 48.725 team score. Utes Annie DiLuzio and Kyndal Robarts each recorded 9.900s on the vault.
After tying her season high on the vault, Donehue once again came up big for BYU on the balance beam, equaling her career high with a 9.875. The mark helped boost the Cougars to their highest beam score of the year at 48.700. Donehue posted the top BYU scores on both the beam and the vault and the highest Cougar mark overall in the meet with her beam score. Meanwhile, Utah posted a 49.125 on the floor.
Both teams were forced to count falls on the final rotation as the heat of competition increased. Senior Danielle Goldman and freshman Jennifer Lezeu were the high scorers for BYU on the floor as each gymnast posted a 9.775. However, Utah's Jamie Deetscreek scored a huge 9.925 on the beam to keep the Cougars at bay and secure the win for the Utes.
BYU will next compete in tri-meet action against Boise State and Utah State on Friday, March 5, in Boise, Idaho.
SWIMMING/DIVING: After day three of the Mountain West Conference Championships, the BYU women continued to be on top with 484 points while the men stayed in second with 491.5 points Friday at Oklahoma City, Okla.
UNLV leads the men's race with 555 points, followed by BYU, Air Force (423.5), Wyoming (389), TCU (318) and Utah (262). Following the BYU women in first is Wyoming (448), San Diego State (400), UNLV (275), Utah (258), Colorado State (237), TCU (165), New Mexico (153) and Air Force in ninth (88).
"I'm pleased with the way we're doing here," said BYU head coach Tim Powers. "The divers have done just fantastic — that's what we hoped they would do. One more day of competition and there is still a lot more to look forward to. We're encouraged and we'll keep plugging along."
Finishing first in the prelims and finals of the men's 400 individual medley was Hayden Palmer with a preliminary time of 3:56.34 and a final time of 3:53.51, dropping over eight seconds off his seeded time and earning the first NCAA-B cut of the night. Freshman Ryan Bills also placed 12th in the prelims of the 400 IM with a time of 4:02.47, dropping nine seconds and later dropping three more seconds in the finals with a time of 3:59.49, finishing ninth. His time of 3:59.49 would've placed him in fourth in the top heat.
Junior Rachel Grant came out four seconds ahead of the field in the 400 IM with an NCAA provisional time of 4:16.91 in the prelims and dropped another three seconds in finals with a time of 4:13.47.
Sophomore Brent Stevenson was the only Cougar to make it to the finals in the 100 butterfly, placing 12th with a time of 50.67 in prelims and 11th place in finals with a time of 50.03.
Senior Kirsty Ferrell placed third in the 100 fly in the prelims with a time of 55.59 and moved up one spot in the finals to second place with a time of 55.21 to earn 17 points for the BYU women.
Junior John Kendrick finished second in the 200 freestyle in the prelims with a time of 1:38.38 while teammate Christian Keil just missed the cutoff in ninth with a time of 1:40.22. Kendrick placed third in the finals with a time of 1:37.82, an NCAA provisional time while sophomore Chad Fong moved from 14th to tying Keil for ninth in the finals, both touching the wall at 1:40.15.
Senior Natasha Menezes finished third in the preliminary 200 free with a time of 1:49.30 and moved up to second place in the finals, touching the wall with a time of 1:48.71.
Provisionally qualifying for NCAA Championships, senior David Mason placed fourth in the prelims of the 100 breaststroke with a time of 55.08, while junior Vytenis Slenys was right behind him in fifth with a time of 55.76. In the finals, Mason finished fourth and Slenys was fifth, both earning NCAA-B cuts with respective times of 55.00 and 55.20.
Junior Sara Jayne Baldwin and Kassandra Bispo ranked third and fourth, respectively, in the 100 breaststroke prelims, both provisionally qualifying for the NCAA Championships. Later in the finals, Baldwin and Bispo once again placed third and fourth with final times of 1:02.27 and 1:02.94, respectively. Sophomore Kelsey Higginson finished eighth in the prelims (1:03.83) and finals (1:04.35) to earn a total of 42 points in the heat. Aleesha Miller finished ninth with a time of 1:03.08 that would've placed her fifth in the final heat, while Taryn Toolson placed 12th (1:04.09), Londyn Clawson in 13th (1:04.46) and Jodie Ellis in 16th (1:05.78) in the 100 breaststroke.
Senior Jeff Ferrell placed 13th in the prelims of the 100 backstroke with a time of 50.97 and finished 15th in the finals, clocking in at 51.68.
Sophomore Candice Smith ranked third in the 100 backstroke to qualify provisionally for the NCAA Championships with a time of 55.01 in the preliminary swim and finished fourth in the finals with a time of 55.29.
The first time competing on the 5-meter platform this season, Brandon Watson placed second in the preliminary and final rounds with a final point total of 373.15 to earn 17 points for the men. Sam Hatch finished fourth with a final score of 290.80, while Nic Suder finished fifth (290.80) and Ron Morris was sixth (289.50).
The men's 400 medley relay was led by powerhouse UNLV while the Cougars finished sixth in the event with J. Ferrell, Mason, Ryan Bills and Keil touching the wall with a time of 3:18.80.
The women's 400 medley relay was taken by SDSU with a time of 3:39.86 while the Cougar women took second with an NCAA-B cut time of 3:41.51. Smith started out in the backstroke, Baldwin followed her in the breaststroke, Grant in the butterfly and Miller anchoring in the free.