The women’s 1,500-meter race at the NCAA West Regional preliminary meet Thursday turned into a BYU carnival, laced with plenty of Utah collegians in on the ride in Texas on the campus of Texas A&M University at College Station.
If Thursday showed anything, it was a muscle flex by the Cougar middle distance women.
Anna Camp-Bennett posted a facility record time and personal best of 2:02.83 in the 800-meter race to establish herself as the No. 1 qualifier for Saturday’s quarterfinals. Teammate Clare Seymore also advanced with the fifth-best time of 2.05.27.
Camp-Bennett’s time broken the E.B. Cushing Stadium record set by Georgia’s Aubrey Tanner at 2.02.99. Her time Thursday is the fifth-best in BYU history. She will run the 800 and 1,500 finals on Saturday.
Whittni Orton, the best 5,000-meter runner in BYU history, registered the best 1,500-meter effort in the field at these preliminaries of the NCAA regional. Her time was 4:16.16.
Orton, a senior from Panguitch, is on the board to run both the 1,500-meter and 5,000-meter on Saturday.
Four Cougar women put times in the top 10 in their respective heats of the 1,500-meter, including Orton in a display of depth. This army included Camp-Bennett (eighth), Olivia Hoj Simister (ninth), and Simone Plourde (10th). Teammate Kate Hunter finished 15th and Lauren Ellsworth-Barnes 16th, followed by SUU’s Alison Pray (29th), Weber State’s Cheyenne Leatham, and Cougar Heather Hansen (36th).
What it means is a good chunk of BYU’s defending national championship cross country team, six in all, advanced to the 1,500-meter quarterfinals: Orton, Camp-Bennet, Simister, Plourde, Hunter and Ellsworth-Barnes.
Southern Utah’s Alexis McAllister’s 49.72 effort in the javelin was the 13th best in the field. BYU’s Ashton Riner finished 26th followed by teammates Payge Cuthbertson (27th) and Elizabeth Parkinson (29th). Weber State’s Lauren Olsen (42nd) and Alyssa Hansen (44th) also posted distances in the field of 46. The best effort was Akealy Moton of North Dakota State (54.58m).
In the shot put, Utah State’s Maia Garren’s 16.07 put her in 17th. BYU’s Sierra Freeland finished 28th, and teammate Gretchen Howkstre finished 38th.
Weber State’s Kate Sorensen finished 20th in the 400-meter hurdles, qualifying for the quarterfinals by finishing third in her heat.