AUSTIN, Tex. (ABC4 Sports) – With 17 total entries, the #14 BYU men’s track and field team, and the 19th-ranked women’s team are both having very strong seasons, and are expected to do well in the NCAA Championships this weekend in Austin.
“Not only do we have the good quantity of entries, I think we have the quality of people who have a chance of hopefully bringing home a title,” said head coach Ed Eyestone. “I think this bodes very well for us as we look forward to transitioning into the Big 12 next year.”
In fact, only two current Big 12 schools, Texas and Texas Tech, have more entries in this year’s NCAA Championships.
“We realize that stepping into the Big 12 we’re going to be going against some strong teams,” Eyestone said. “But we go against those teams regardless.”
“We’ve been competing at the highest level for years,” said steeplechase runner Kenneth Rooks. “So the transition into the Big 12 is not going to be a very big transition for us, other than having a very competitive conference meet.”
What is also exciting is 59 athletes, nearly half of the mens and women’s teams are from the state Utah.
“If you look at the results of the state meets over the last few years, it’s been off the hook in terms of the quality of athletes that the state of Utah is producing,” said Eyestone. “We’re excited about that, and we’re going to continue to recruit locally as we move into the Big 12.”
Rooks broke a 46-year school record this year, and is ranked second in the country in the 3,000 meter steeplechase. He could be the 8th BYU runner to win a national title in steeplechase.
“It’s cool to be a part of that legacy,” Rooks said. “I have the school record now, and we have some history with having some national champions in the steeplechase.”
Rooks is one of several BYU athletes that can bring home national titles this weekend. Claire Seymour in the 800 meters, Casey Clinger in the 5,000 and 10,000 meter races, Sierra Tidwell in the high jump, plus defending javelin national champion Ashton Riner could go back-to-back in the javelin.
“If we have an ideal meet, we can score some points,” said Eyestone, who said his teams could both finish in the top-10.
Eyestone won three national titles in the 1980’s as a runner at BYU, so he knows he has to let his athletes do what they do.
“The worst thing you can do is try to change things up when you go into one of these championship meets,” he said. “You just want to control the controllable, be present, and let the athletes go out and do what they do best.”
The NCAA Championships run from June 7-10 in Austin, Texas.