By any standard, BYU has qualified an eye-opening number of athletes for the NCAA West preliminary track and field championships, which serves as the gateway to the NCAA outdoor championships two weeks later. BYU has qualified 64 entries; only Arkansas (75) and Texas (66) have more. Qualifications are based on stiff performance standards.

BYU has always been one of the hotbeds of distance and middle-distance running, a reputation that has grown under coaches Ed Eyestone and Diljeet Taylor. But this year the Cougars — at least on the regional level — are strong across the board, especially the men, who have qualified athletes in 17 of the 20 events.

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“On the men’s side, it’s the most we’ve ever qualified,” said Eyestone. He noted that it was also the first time he had qualified his entire 14-man traveling squad for distance events.

The BYU men rank No. 11 in the national polls, the BYU women No. 20, heading into the NCAA West Preliminary, which will be held at Sacramento State. The men will compete May 24 and 26, the women May 25 and 27.

BYU steeplechaser Kenneth Rooks (No. 1) owns the fastest time in the world so far this year. | Mattew Norton, BYU Photo

Eight BYU athletes rank in the top 10 nationally of their events — Kenneth Rooks in the steeplechase (first), Claire Seymour in the 800-meter run (second), Cierra Tidwell-Allphin in the high jump (third), Lexy Halladay-Lowry in the steeplechase (sixth), Cameron Bates in the javelin (seventh), Dallin Shurts in the discus (eighth), Casey Clinger in the 10,000-meter run (eighth), Creed Thompson in the 10,000-meter run (ninth).

As always, the team’s best hopes are in the longer races on the track. The Cougars have qualified a combined total of nine men and women in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and eight in the 10,000-meter run.

Rooks recently posted the fastest steeplechase time in the world so far this year — 8:17.62 — against a field of professionals, breaking a 46-year-old school record held by four-time Olympian Henry Marsh. Rooks, who finished sixth in last year’s NCAA championships, is among the finalists for the Bowerman Award, the Heisman Trophy of track and field.

Seymour, a senior from California, owns the second-fastest time in the nation at 800 meters, 2:00.04, trailing only LSU’s Michaela Rose. A converted high school 400-meter sprinter, she finished second in the 800 at the 2022 NCAA indoor championships. Earlier this season she broke a 36-year-old school record held by Olympian Julie Jenkins.

BYU’s Casey Clinger is among a host of BYU athletes expected to show well at this week’s NCAA West prelims in Sacramento. | BYU Photo

Clinger, the school record holder at 5,000 meters, and Brandon Garnica will double this week, running both the 5,000 and 10,000 distances. Clinger finished second in the NCAA indoor championships at 5,000 meters.

Shurts, a 6-foot-7 junior discus thrower, finished second in the USA Outdoor Championships last summer in one of the biggest surprises of the meet, but he didn’t qualify for the 2022 NCAA championships after finishing just 23rd in the regional meet. He ranks eighth in the nation heading into this week’s preliminary round.

Ashton Riner-Lunt, a senior from Washington, is the defending NCAA champion in the javelin, but a hip injury has hampered her performance this season. She ranks 17th entering this week’s competition.


Cougars competing

Men

  • Christian Allen — West Jordan — 10,000.
  • Treyton Anderson — Montana — 400 hurdles.
  • Cameron Bates — Spanish Fork — Javelin.
  • Easton Bianchi — Illinois — 200/4x100.
  • Lucas Bons — Ohio — 1,500.
  • Danny Bryant — California — Discus/shot put.
  • Nathan Burnett — New Mexico — Pole vault.
  • Spencer Carlile — St. George — 400 hurdles.
  • Chase Clement — Springville — Javelin.
  • Casey Clinger — American Fork    5,000/10,000.
  • James Corrigan — California — 5,000.
  • Dallin Draper — Delta — 100/200/4x100.
  • Zach Erikson — Idaho — Steeplechase.
  • Seb Fernandez — Minnesota — 800.
  • Jake Grimsman — California — High jump.
  • Brandon Garnica — Springville — 5,000/10,000.
  • Luke Grundvig — Highland — 10,000.
  • Eli Hazlett — California — 4x400.
  • Trey Jackson — Alpine — 400,4x100,4x400.
  • Jace Jensen — Bountiful — 400 hurdles,4x400.
  • Caleb Johnson — Draper        1,500.
  • Joey Nokes — Riverton — 10,000.
  • Brinton Paulson — Orem — Javelin.
  • Kenneth Rooks — Washington — Steeplechase.
  • Abram Schaap — New Mexico — 4x100.
  • Dallin Shurts — Oregon — Discus.
  • Garrett Stanford — California — Steeplechase.
  • Jacob Stanford — California — 10,000.
  • Josh Taylor — Richfield — 400/4x400.
  • Creed Thompson — Lehi — 10,000.
  • Dallin Thornton — South Jordan — Pole vault.
  • Caleb Witsken — Nevada — Pole vault.

Women

  • Carmen Alder — North Carolina — 1,500.
  • Marianne Barber — Farmington — 200/4x400.
  • Riley Chamberlain — California — 1,500.
  • Lizzie Dildine — Idaho — Steeplechase.
  • Destiny Everett — California — Steeplechase.
  • Jacey Farmer — California — 1,500.
  • Cailee Faulkner — Arizona — Pole vault.
  • Alissa Fielding — Orem — 1,500.
  • Maren Garnett — Texas — Pole vault.
  • Aubrey Frentheway — Wyoming — 10,000.
  • Jaslyn Gardner — Enterprise — 100/4x100.
  • Lexy Halladay — Idaho — Steeplechase.
  • Heather Hanson — Washington — 1,500.
  • Meghan Hunter — Provo — 800/4x400.
  • Jenna Hutchins — Tennessee — 5,000.
  • Madi Moffitt — Orem — Steeplechase.
  • Ashton Riner — Washington — Javelin.
  • Taylor Rohatinsky — Highland — 1,500.
  • Rebecca Ross — Washington — Pole vault.
  • Sadie Sargent — Coalville — Steeplechase.
  • Claire Seymour — California — 800.
  • Dolita Shaw — United Kingdom — 4x100.
  • Adaobi Tabugbo — Maryland — 100 hurdles/4x100.
  • Jessica Thompson — Montana — Javelin/shot put.
  • Cierra Tidwell — Arizona — High jump.
  • Allie Warner — Orem — Steeplechase.