Utah collegians finished 1-2-3 in the 5,000-meter run to close out the women’s competition at the NCAA West region track and field meet in Sacramento, California, Saturday evening.

The meet, which serves as a qualifier for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships June 7-10 in Austin, Texas, certainly burnished Utah’s reputation as a hotbed for distance and middle-distance running, as seven Utah women and four men qualified for 15 entries in the five events ranging from 800 to 10,000 meters.

The men’s preliminaries were held Wednesday and Friday, the women’s on Thursday and Saturday.

Utah Valley’s Everlyn Kemboi and Utah’s Emily Venters and Simone Plourde each qualified in two events. On Thursday, Kemboi and Venters qualified in the 10,000-meter run by finishing first and third, respectively, and on Saturday evening Plourde qualified in the 1,500-meter run with a  fourth-place finish.

Three hours later, Plourde, who has the second-fastest time in the nation this season in the 5,000, returned to the track and lined up against Venters, who has the nation’s fastest 10,000-meter time this year, in the 5,000-meter semifinals. 

Venters edged Plourde by .04 hundreds of a second – 15:34.60-15:34.64. 

Then they stood by and watched as Kemboi, a junior from Kenya, won the second heat with the night’s fastest time, 15:30.25, giving Utah collegians the three fastest times in the event.

Kemboi has the fastest time in the nation this season at 5,000 meters and the third-fastest at 10,000 meters.

Plourde, a junior from Canada and a BYU transfer, set a school record in the 1,500 when she found herself caught up in the blazing fast second heat in which first place and fifth place were separated by just .81 of a second and all finished under 4:09.

Plourde was fourth in 4:08.70, breaking her own school record of 4:09.48 set earlier this season.

Washington’s Sophie O’Sullivan won the heat and had the fastest time of the day, 4:08.06

BYU, ranked 20th in the latest women’s national poll, led the way for Utah schools by qualifying six athletes in individual events for the national championships plus two sprint relays – Aubrey Frentheway (10,000 meters), Lexy Halladay (steeplechase), Claire Seymour (800 meters), Meghan Hunter (800 meters), Ashton Riner (javelin) and Cierra Tidwell (high jump). 

BYU’s 4 x 100 relay team of Adaobi Tabugbo, Jaslyn Gardner, Dolita Shaw and Marianne Barber delivered one of the biggest surprises of the day for BYU by finishing 10th in Saturday’s quarterfinals with a school-record time of 43.84. It’s the first time in program history that BYU’s women’s 4 x 100 relay team has qualified for nationals.

BYU took down another school record in the 4 x 400 relay. The team of Hunter, Barber, Brilee Pontius and Seymour clocked a time of 3:32.88 to finish ninth overall and qualify for the NCAA finals.

Utah, a program on the rise, qualified Dinedye Denis (400 hurdles), Venters (5,000, 10,000) and Plourde (1,500, 5,000) and also claimed two school records — Plourde in the 1,500 and Denis in the 400 hurdles.

Denis, who transferred from Albany in the fall, was timed in 57.12 to claim the last qualifying spot in the hurdles. 

As expected, Britton Wilson, the sensational junior from Arkansas, had easily the fastest time of the day, 53.71. An hour earlier she also won the 400-meter dash with a time of 49.51.

She set a collegiate record of 49.13 earlier this season.

BYU has earned a reputation for producing 800-meter runners, and Seymour is the latest among them.

She owns the second-fastest time in the nation this season (a school-record 2:00.04), and on Saturday she won the third heat of the 800-meter quarterfinals with a time of 2:04.75 (the top three in each heat automatically advance), the ninth-fastest time of the competition.

The other heats pushed a faster pace, led by Stanford freshman Roisin Willis, who timed 2:02.51.

Hunter, a junior from Provo, finished third in the third heat behind Seymour to automatically advance to the next round. She produced a personal-best time of 2:05.35.

Halladay, a BYU junior from Boise and the second-fastest steeplechaser in BYU history, finished second in her heat and seventh overall to advance to the semifinals in Texas.

She finished with a time of 9:46.02.

Sadie Sargent, a sophomore from Coalville, finished with the day’s 12th fastest time, but Janette Schraft of Iowa State took the 12th and final qualifying spot by finishing in the top three of her heat.

Sargent’s time was 9:57.11, Schraft’s 10:02.55.

The Cougars had a meet-high six entries in the region quarterfinals of the steeplechase.

How Utah collegians performed in Saturday’s NCAA West region preliminary competition (Q = qualified for NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Austin, Texas, June 7-10):

100 hurdles

17th Adaobi Tabugbo (BYU) 13.29

400 hurdles

12th  Dinedye Denis (UU)  57.12 Q

800m run

9th  Claire Seymour (BYU) 2:04.75  Q

13th  Meghan Hunter (BYU) 2:05.35 Q

1,500m run

4th    Simone Plourde (UU) 4:08.70 Q

17th  Riley Chamberlain (BYU) 4:17.61

21st  Erin Vringer (UU) 4:20.34

3,000m steeplechase

7th Lexy Halladay (BYU) 9:46.02 Q

12th Sadie Sargent (BYU) 9:57.11

32nd Allie Warner (BYU) 10:20.65

33rd  Bailey Wall (W) 10:20.71

35th Elizabeth Dildine (BYU) 10:23.21

36th Abby Jensen (USU) 10:23.58

39th Madi Moffitt (BYU) 10:34.43

43rd  Haley Anderson (SUU) 10:38.05

45th  Destiny Everett (BYU) 10:43.72

5,000m run

1st  Everlyn Kemboi (UVU) 15:30.25 Q

2nd Emily Venters (UU) 15:34.60  Q

3rd Simone Plourde (UU) 15:34.64  Q

14th Bella Williams (UU) 15:52.65

15th Billie Hatch (W) 15:55.80

23rd Micaela Rivera (USU) 16:07.73

38th Mazzie Melaney (UVU) 16:31.59

40th Jenna Hutchins (BYU) 16:31.84

4x100 relay

10th Adaobi Tabugbo-Jaslyn Gardner-

        -Dolita Shaw-Marianne Barber (BYU) 43.84 Q

4x400 relay

9th  Claire Seymour-Meghan Hunter

        -Marianne Barber-Brilee Pontius (BYU) 3:32.88 Q

High jump

9thT    Cierra Tidwell (BYU) 5-11 ½ 

27thT  Ajia Hughes (SUU) 5-7 3/4

Triple jump

36th  Shana Van Elderen (UU) 40-2


21st  Tori Bailey (USU)  173-0

NCAA track championship qualifiers from Utah schools


Everlyn Kemboi (UVU) – 10,000m run

                                      – 5,000m run

Emily Venters (UU) – 10,000m run

                                – 5,000m run

Simone Plourde (UU) – 1,500m run

                                   – 5,000m run

Aubrey Frentheway (BYU) – 10,000m run

Lexy Halladay (BYU) - Steeplechase

Claire Seymour (BYU) - 800m run

Meghan Hunter (BYU) - 800m run

Dinedye Denis (UU) - 400m hurdles

Adaobi Tabugbo-Marianne Barber-

-Dolita Shaw-Jaslyn Gardner (BYU) 4x100 relay

Claire Seymour-Meghan Hunter-

-Marianne Barber-Brilee Pontius (BYU) 4 x 400 relay

Ashton Riner-Lent (BYU) – Javelin

Cierra Tidwell (BYU) - High jump


Casey Clinger (BYU) - 5,000 meters

                                   - 10,000 meters

Brandon Garnica (BYU) - 10,000 meters

Kenneth Rooks (BYU) – steeplechase

Bronson Winter (W) - steeplechase

Eli Hazlett-Jace Jensen-

-Landon Maxfield, Josh Taylor (BYU) – 4 x 400 relay

Caleb Witsken (BYU) - pole vault

Cameron Bates (BYU) - javelin

Dallin Shurts (BYU) - discus

Astley Davis (SUU) – triple jump

Cedar English (SUU) – long jump