Cowgirl Track Brings Home Two Conference Titles On Final Day

May 14, 2011

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When the dust settled at the Mountain West Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Saturday, two Cowgirls claimed two conference titles on the final day in Fort Collins, Colo.

For the weekend, the Cowgirls finished eighth out of nine teams with 56 points, while the Cowboys were sixth out of six teams with 40 points. The BYU men tallied 212 points to claim their 12th consecutive title, while the BYU women scored 191 points to earn their 10th overall crown.

The first crown came when senior Afiya Walker, last year's runner up, won her first outdoor title in the 400-meter dash, posting a time of 53.65 seconds. Walker swept the indoor and outdoor 400 titles this season in the MWC Conference Championships. Lindsey Simmons was sixth in the same event, with a time of 55.31. Simmons now is seventh all-time on UW's top-10 list.

The real surprise of the day was the performance of freshman Erin Kirby, who won the 400-meter hurdles with the second-best time in Wyoming history, clocking in with at 59.39 seconds. This was the first weekend that Kirby had run the event in collegiate competition, and she became only the second freshman in MWC history to win the event. San Diego State's Kristen Olafsdottier (2006) is the only other student-athlete to win the title in her first year.

Kirby's day wasn't done, though, as she performed well in three other events. The women's 4-by-100-meter relay team of Katy Hall, Chantel Bernabo, Kirby and Walker was fourth with a time of 46.32. Kirby also was seventh in the 100-meter hurdles, 14.33. To cap off the meet, the 4-by-400-meter relay team of Kirby, Simmons, Candace Wollert and Walker was second with a time of 3:39.69, which is the No. 5 all-time mark in school history.

Kirby's teammate Diana Long posted her first sub-1 minute mark in the 400-meter hurdles, claiming third place overall with a time of 59.90 seconds.

"I think our kids gave great efforts today," Wyoming coach Don Yentes said. "We had some shortcomings where we got ninth or 10th in a lot of things. Diana Long ran great, Lindsey Simmons ran great, that women's 4-by-4 was outstanding. We had some unfortunate things happen but a lot of kids competed well."

Other notable performances included Maria Cress, who was eighth in the javelin throw with a mark of 127 feet, 2 inches. Ashley Hutchinson was 10th in the shot put with a toss of 44-11 ¼. Andrea Klimowski was ninth in the 1,500-meter run with a time of 4:37.52, good for 10th all-time in UW history. She was followed by teammate Alysha Davis in 4:39.18. Emily Moore, whom Yentes said had one of the best days of her Wyoming career, was eighth in the triple jump with a mark of 38-6. She now is sixth all-time for UW.

Wollert also was third in the 800-meter run, posting an altitude-converted time of 2:08.30, which bettered her mark Friday and remains the second-best time in Wyoming history. Christine Nelson was eighth in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 16:56.33.The men's team had a solid day, as well. Sean Wilde was ninth in the 1,500-meter run with a time of 4:01.09. Two Pokes scored in the 110-meter hurdles, as Brandon Douglass was fifth in the event with a time of personal-best time of 14.54 seconds and Mark Flegel was eighth, 15.08.

Greg Miller was fifth in the 5,000-meter race with an altitude-converted time of 13:58.43, putting him third on UW's all-time list. Garrett Zans was ninth in the same event, 14:19.33, which put him ninth on the all-time list. Taylor Kelting was 11th in the same event with a time of 14:27.90. Travis Gunderson was sixth in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.94 seconds.

Aaron Praska was eighth in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 55.92 seconds and Jaymes Talkington was eighth in the triple jump with a leap of 45-6 ¼. Mark Sparks was 10th in the discus, 154-3; and Joe Riccio was ninth in the javelin throw, 159-5. Lenyn Leonce was fifth in the 200-meter dash, 21.70.

"I thought the kids put it on the line, gave a lot of heart," Yentes said. "That's just the way things work out."

The Cowboys and Cowgirls now will have to wait to see how their times and marks stack up with the rest of the region to see if they can qualify for the NCAA First Round events, which will be May 26-28 in Eugene, Ore.