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BYU punched national championship ticket for three track athletes at NCAA West Regional in Texas

The Cougars advanced eight athletes on Wednesday, with the men’s competition slated to resume on Friday.

BYU’s Conner Mantz competes in the 10,000-meter race at the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
BYU’s Conner Mantz competes in the 10,000-meter race at the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Mantz qualified for the NCAA national championships on Wednesday, May 26, 2021, at the Preliminary NCAA West Regional Track and Field Championships in College Station, Texas.
Nate Edwards, BYU

BYU’s Conner Mantz, the nation’s top 10,000 meters runner, easily qualified for the NCAA national championships to lead his team’s impressive performances at the Preliminary NCAA West Regional Track and Field Championships in College Station, Texas, on Wednesday.

Two of his teammates, Cameron Bates (javelin) and Zach McWorter (pole vault) joined Mantz in securing trips to nationals in Eugene, Oregon.

Five additional Cougars advanced to Friday’s quarterfinals at the preliminary West Regional. They include Lucas Bons, Talem Franco and Aidan Troutner in the 1,500 meters, Michael Bluth in the 400 meters and Colten Yardley in the 400-meter hurdles.

Bates had the second-best javelin effort and Bons posted the third-best time in his event to lead the No. 2-ranked men’s track and field team. On Thursday, the NCAA regional hosts competition for women.

The Cougars advanced eight athletes as the men’s competition resumes on Friday.

BYU, which qualified a school record and nation-best 69 athletes for the preliminaries in both men and women, benefited from a protest in the 1,500 meters when Troutner was tripped from behind and fell to the track. Officials awarded Troutner with an advance to Friday, along with the 12 other qualifiers in that event.

Bates posted a throw of 71.13 meters in the second event of the competition to finish behind Kansas State’s Logan Wofley (72.40). McWhorter’s 17-10 ½ effort in the pole vault was good for seventh place and a trip to Eugene.

Bons’ time of 3:43.47 in 1,500 meters was good for third in his heat and third overall on the day. Franco took first in his 1,500 meter heat with a time of 3:45.42.

Bluth ran a 46.14 to advance in the 400 meters. Yardley’s time of 50.60 was good for a second-place finish in his heat and he advances with the ninth-best time.

The final event of Wednesday’s competition hosted by Texas A&M University was the 10,000 meters and it had the most Utah collegians involved. Mantz ran a 29.10.9, the third-best time behind Iowa State’s Wesley Kiptoo (28.50.11). Mantz posted the nation’s best time in this event at the Cougar Invitational, an impressive 27.41.16.

SUU’s Aiden Reed had the 18th best time of the 48 runners, followed USU’s Luke Beattie (20th), Weber State’s Christian Allen (21st), SUU’s Christian Ricketts (23rd), BYU’s Connor Weaver (37th) and his teammate Michael Ottesen (44th). Only the top 12 advanced to the nationals in Eugene.

Southern Utah and Utah State sent 10 athletes each to the NCAA Preliminary meet in Texas. Weber State sent 17 while BYU’s 49 is the most of any team in any of the regionals and most in school history. Utah Valley University had five qualify. Utah sponsors only women’s track, but did not have any qualifying athletes for the meet in College Station this week.