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Lacking quantity, Cougs to focus on quality at NCAA meet

Published June 21, 2011 11:41 am

Track • Men's and women's teams to fight for rankings.
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BYU's men will be hard-pressed to earn their ranking at this year's NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The No. 10 Cougars will send eight athletes to Des Moines, Iowa, and to finish 10th or better in the competitive field will take a high level of performance.

This is especially true since BYU is spread out in seven events, which allows the smallest room for error.

Last season, the Cougars were disappointed to finish with a single point.

"You always wish you could bring some more, but we have a great group going," BYU coach Mark Robison said. "The terrific thing is, with this group, every one of them is capable of scoring points.

"Our goal is to be in the top 10, and everyone will have to do well for that to happen."

Only six BYU women are among the competitors. What the Cougars lack in numbers, they make up for in quality and expect a top-15 finish when the three-day meet begins Wednesday at Drake University.

Florida is the two-time defending champion.

BYU, which finished 15th at the NCAA Indoors Championships, expects good performances from Lacey Bleazard in the 800 meters as well as Ada Robinson and Diana Blauer in the high jump. All three did well enough to earn All-America indoor honors.

"We have been working toward this weekend all season," BYU women's coach Patrick Shane said.

Junior Miles Batty can get the Cougar men off to a good start with a quality heat time Wednesday. The BYU senior ran the fastest collegiate 1,500 this year — 3 minutes, 36.25 seconds. BYU needs a repeat performance from the indoor All-American.

Leif Arrhenius has consistently ranked among the top 10 nationally in the discus and shot put. Both events are scheduled to begin Wednesday.

"I expect our guys to be able to do it," Robison said.

Meanwhile, Utah's lone entrant is sophomore Amanda Mergaert, who earned a spot in the 1,500 in a school-record time of 4:16.57. Not only was it a school mark, but Mergaert broke her personal record by more than five seconds.

Weber State and Southern Utah are also sending one athlete each. WSU senior Brett Hales will make his second trip to nationals in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, while SUU's Cameron Levins qualified in the men's 5,000.

martyr@sltrib.com