University Beat: Utah skiers attempt to repeat as regional champions
The University of Utah had the third-best ski team in its conference, according to the final rankings.
However, two consecutive second-place team finishes, including one in its own invitational, have given Utah's director of skiing Kevin Sweeney renewed confidence in his defending champions as the Utes head toward the three-day RMISA and NCAA Championships beginning Friday in Bozeman, Mont.
"I am extremely impressed with our efforts as our overall team score is becoming more and more competitive," Sweeney said. "I like our trend and motivation as we get closer to the championships."
Utah sits behind Denver and New Mexico in overall Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association standings. The men are ranked second and the women third in their respective combined standings.
The 5K and 10K classical races are Friday, with the 15K and 20K freestyle and slalom races scheduled for Saturday. The giant slalom is Sunday.
If Utah has undeniable strength, it comes in men's Nordic, where the top-ranked Utes are led by two-time conference MVP Miles Havlic and this year's runner-up in the voting, Einar Ulsund. Havlic has won five times this season, including his last four at three different distances.
Championship weekend for indoor track & field
As teams prepare for various conference indoor track and field championships, BYU and Utah head to the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Indoor Track and Field Championships on Friday and Saturday with the NCAA meet looming on the horizon.
The MPSF meet, featuring 12 men's teams and 15 women's teams from the Pac-12, WCC and Big West, is the one major indoor meet remaining before the NCAA National Indoor Championships scheduled for March 8-9 at the University of Arkansas. BYU's men and women appear to be peaking.
The Cougar women enjoyed 11 career-best marks on the final day of the recent Air Force Team Challenge. The Cougar men also compiled a handful of PRs, including Ryan Waite's time in the 800 meters (1:48.49), which set a school record.
Utah is one of three schools with women's teams only. Miler Amanda Mergaert has been the Utes' top performer this season, setting a school mark in her events at the recent Husky Classic at Washington.
Weber State and Southern Utah head to Bozeman, Mont., for the Big Sky Conference indoor meet, while Utah State travels to New Mexico for the WAC championships. The Great West Conference meet with Utah Valley takes place in Houston.
BYU swimmers head to MPFS Meet
Defending champion BYU returns five past winners to the MPSF Swimming Championship beginning Wednesday with swimming at East Los Angeles College in Monterey Park, Calif. The diving competition, at the Air Force Academy, begins Thursday.
The Cougar men and women won team championships in 2012. BYU's men faces a hot No. 25 -ranked UNLV team that has won eight consecutive meets. The UC Santa Barbara women, runners-up the last two years, feature reigning MPSF Athlete of the Year Andrea Ward.
BYU's Preston Jenkins has the conference's second-best time in the 100 back and 200 back. Hailey Campbell is meet record holder in the 100 and 200 back.