What Utah and BYU fans should watch for at the NCAA track and field championships

A walk-on is heading to Eugene, Utah has a revival, SUU and UVU make history

BYU Athletics Photo | Underdog Anna Camp-Bennett won the 1500m meter race at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Eugene, Ore., on June 12, 2021.

The NCAA track and field national championships will take place from June 8-11 in Eugene, Ore. BYU, Utah, Southern Utah and Utah Valley will all be represented at Hayward Field, led by 21 BYU qualifiers across the men’s and women’s events.

Here are storylines to watch this week.

BYU’s Colten Yardley returns for one last run

BYU’s senior sprinter will headline two events this year after a disappointing finish at nationals a year ago. Yardley qualified individually in the 400-meter hurdles and led BYU’s 4x100 meter team to a national championship berth.

The Utah native ran a personal best 49.6-second 400-meter race to qualify for his second straight national appearance in that event. Last year, he finished No. 17 in the country. His final meet this year will allow him a chance to set BYU’s all-time record in the event. Right now, he is third in school history.

In the 4x100, Yardley is also leading a group that will make back-to-back trips to Oregon. This year, the team just qualified at No. 10 in the regional meet in Arkansas.

A walk-on going to Eugene

BYU’s Sebastian Fernandez started this season as a walk-on, but will end as a national championship qualifier. The 800-meter runner finished with a 1:47.62 in the regional meet to punch his ticket to Eugene.

Fernandez is also the first BYU national qualifier in the 800-meter race since 2016. His regional performance was good for No. 5 all-time in BYU history.

Utah makes a statement

The Utah track and field team is a smaller program that focuses on distance and hurdles. Yet, this year it will have two qualifiers for the first time in a decade.

Josefine Eriksen and Cara Woolnough both will be heading to nationals. Eriksen has set school records in the 800 meters and 4x800 meter this season. Woolnough has set school-bests in the 5000 meters and 4x1600.

Utah’s program overall had its best finish in the Pac-12 championships since 2012. It will also send Simone Plourde to the Canadian Championships and Eriksen to the Norwegian and European Championships.

Southern Utah in the mix

Southern Utah is not normally a staple at track and field nationals. Yet, this year, the program will send its first jumper to Eugene in program history.

Elizabeth White finished tenth at regionals to qualify in the long jump. She is the lone representative from the program.

Courtney Wayment’s dominance continues

BYU’s Courtney Wayment won the 5K NCAA championship in the indoor season this year. And now the senior is going to outdoor nationals in the 3000-meter steeplechase.

Wayment finished first at the regional meet to easily qualify for Eugene. This will be the last race of her college career that has seen multiple school records and national championships.

Utah Valley sends two women for first time in program history

For the first time in school history, Utah Valley will send a representative from the women’s program. Hannah Branch and Everlyn Kemboi both qualified in the in the 10K next week.

They are joined by long jump qualifier Aaron Johnson and steeplechase runner Adam Bunker. The four representatives at nationals is the most in school history.