Utah schools will send more than two dozen athletes to this week’s NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, one of the most competitive competitions in the world each year.

The meet, which consists of semifinals and finals, will be held in Eugene, Oregon. The men will compete Wednesday and Friday, the women Thursday and Saturday.

“We have a nice combination of seniors and underclassmen, and when you combine that kind of youth and experience, it usually ends up with great results. We always want to be in a position to battle for a top-10 finish and if we maximize performance in our jumps, throws and distance we could be right there.”

—  BYU head track coach Ed Eyestone

BYU, a traditional top-20 track and field school, qualified 19 athletes, including members of a relay — eight events on the men’s side and eight events on the women’s side. The BYU women’s team has finished in the top eight of the NCAA championships three of the last four years; the BYU men’s team has finished in the top 10 two of the last five years.

“We are excited to be sending 16 combined entries on the men’s and women’s teams,” says head coach Ed Eyestone. “We have a nice combination of seniors and underclassmen, and when you combine that kind of youth and experience, it usually ends up with great results. We always want to be in a position to battle for a top-10 finish and if we maximize performance in our jumps, throws and distance we could be right there.”

On paper, at least, BYU is not as strong as it has been in recent years. Three of BYU’s top athletes will miss the meet. All-Americans Casey Clinger, Meghan Hunter and Lexy Halladay are redshirting the season, and that doesn’t count 2023 national champion Kenneth Rooks, who gave up his senior year to turn pro last winter.

The NCAA competition will be stiffer than ever. Four collegians have broken 10 seconds in the 100-meter dash, and 21 are under 10.10. On the women’s side, six women have broken 11 seconds in the 100 and 23 are under 11.20.

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The talent is similarly deep across the board. In the 400-meter dash, seven men have run 44 seconds and four women have run 49 seconds — times that would’ve medaled in almost every Olympic Games.

In the 1,500-meter run, 26 men have run under 3:40 (3:42 is the equivalent of a sub-four-minute mile) and 10 have run under 13:30 in the 5,000.

Of the 28 Utah collegians who have qualified for the meet, only seven of them rank in the top 10 of their events.

Dallin Shurts, the 2022 runner-up in the USA national championships, is ranked second in the discus. Cameron Bates, a two-time first-team All-American, ranks only 10th. James Corrigan, the Big 12 steeplechase champion and record holder, ranks ninth.

Jaslyn Gardner, who will be competing in her final collegiate meet, ran 11.00 with a slight wind aid at the West preliminaries and is suddenly a contender to make the finals (the top nine). The BYU women’s program has never had a finalist in any of the three sprint races (100, 200, 400). For that matter, this marks only the second time ever that the women’s team has qualified an athlete for those events.

BYU steeplechasers compete in the NCAA prelims in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on May 25.
BYU steeplechasers compete in the NCAA preliminaries in Fayetteville, Ark., on May 25. | Nate Edwards, BYU Photo

This season, BYU’s Rebekah Erikson, a sophomore pole vaulter from Washington, cleared 14 feet, 1 ¾ inches to break a nine-year-old school record set by Anginae Monteverde by a half-inch. She ranks sixth headed into this week’s championship.

So does high jumper Cierra Allphin, who set an indoor school record of 6-2 ¼ indoors, but has not matched it outdoors.

The other athlete to watch is Utah State’s Logan Hammer, a sophomore from Idaho who has improved his high school personal record of 14-6 to 17-4 ½ as a freshman and to 18-5¼ as a sophomore this season. He is tied for seventh nationally.


NCAA qualifiers from Utah universities

BYU

Men

  • Cameron Bates, javelin (10th).
  • Danny Bryant, shot put (11th).
  • James Corrigan, steeplechase (ninth).
  • Sebastian Fernandez, 800-meter (22nd).
  • Wyatt Haughton, steeplechase (22nd).
  • Dallin Shurts, discus (second).
  • Aidan Troutner, 5,000-meter (16th).
  • 4x400 relay — Eli Hazlett, Abram Schaap, Jace Jensen, Trey Jackson (21st).

Women

  • Cierra Allphin, high jump (sixth).
  • Riley Chamberlain, 1,500-meter (17th).
  • Rebekah Erikson, pole vault, (sixth).
  • Jaslyn Gardner, 100-meter, (sixth).
  • Gretchen Hoekstre, discus (15th).
  • Jenna Hutchins, 10,000-meter (16th).
  • Taylor Lovell, steeplechase (13th).
  • Sadie Sargent, 5,000-meter (15th).
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Southern Utah

  • Hayden Harward, steeplechase (16th).

Utah State

  • Logan Hammer, pole vault (seventh).

University of Utah

  • Harley Daniel, 400 hurdles (24th).
  • Josefine Eriksen, 800-meter (16th).
  • Erin Vringer, 1,500-meter (24th).
  • 4x400 relay — Ally Gomm, Josefine Eriksen, Harley Daniel, Bailey Kealamakia (22nd).

Weber State

  • Josh Trafny, javelin (21st).
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