A trio of Utah State track & field athletes broke seed on the fourth at final day of the NCAA West Preliminary Championships.
Distance runners Camren Todd and Katie Haviland, throwers Maia Garren and Michaela Zilkey, and high jumper Audrey Garrett competed for the Aggies last Saturday at E.B. Cushing Stadium in College Station, Texas.
It was nearly a very memorable day for Todd, who barely qualified for the meet as he was seeded 47th out of 48 competitors in the 5,000 meters. Only the top 12 finishers in each event advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, and Todd was in contention heading into the final lap.
The sophomore wasn’t quite able to keep pace over the final 400 meters, though, and ended up finishing 11th in what turned out to be handily the faster of the two heats. Todd completed the race in 14 minutes, 6.54 seconds, which was good enough for 21st place overall.
Todd, the Mountain West silver medalist in the 10,000 and bronze medalist in cross country, missed out of the final at-large bid to nationals by 11 seconds. The Kaysville native was originally scheduled to compete Friday night, but bad weather forced meet officials to move all 10 of the men’s track events to Saturday.
Iowa State’s Wesley Kiptoo put together another epic performance en route to prevailing in the 5,000. Kiptoo clocked in at 13:42.70, which was nine seconds faster than his nearest competitor. The sophomore won Wednesday’s 10,000 by a whopping 20 seconds.
Haviland was the next highest USU placer on Day 4 of the meet. The senior was 24th in the 3,000 steeplechase and clocked in at 10:21.02, which was less than four seconds slower than her personal record — a noteworthy accomplishment considering how hot and humid it was Saturday.
Haviland, who came very close to garnering All-America honors during the cross country season, finished eighth out of 16 athletes in the first of three heats. The Lehi native will take advantage of the NCAA’s freeze in eligibility and will return for a super senior season in cross country, plus indoor and outdoor track.
BYU’s Courtney Wayment was the gold medalist in the steeplechase and she recorded a time of 9:42.02.
Garren wrapped up a great ending to her season by easily breaking seed for the second time at the meet. The former Logan High standout finished 32nd in Saturday’s discus with her mark of 162 feet, 4 inches. She was seeded 47th. Garren was the No. 42 seed in Thursday’s shot put, but ended up placing 17th with a personal record heave of 52-8.75 — the best showing by a USU athlete at the meet.
Garren, who will be back for a super senior season, was consistent in both of her events last week. All three of her attempts in the shot put eclipsed the 50-foot barrier, and all three of her throws in the discus traveled at least 159-6.
Zilkey also competed in the discus for the Aggies and finished 43rd. The senior scratched on her first and third attempts, and recorded a 144-11 on her second. Zilkey was seeded 36th.
The discus competition was dominated by Arizona State’s Jorinde Van Klinken, who broke the facility record with her 211-5. Only one other athlete exceeded the 200-foot barrier.
It was a challenging day for Garrett, who was unable to clear the bar at 5-5.75, which was the opening height of the competition. The graduate student was coming off a breakthrough performance at the Mountain West Championships, where she was successful at 5-10.75 and won the silver medal. Garrett was seeded 14th.
Three women cleared 5-11.5 on the second attempt and had no other misses en route to sharing the high jump title. Nobody attempted a higher mark since the 12 national qualifiers were already determined.
Note: Former USU star Sindri Gudmundsson reigned supreme in the javelin at the NCAA East Preliminary Championships, which took place in Jacksonville, Florida. Gudmundsson, a three-time first-team All-American for the Aggies in the event, transferred to Mississippi State after the last outdoor season was canceled due to COVID-19.
Gudmundsson, the No. 1 seed, uncorked a season-best mark of 261-11 on his first attempt, which is the best throw by a collegian this spring. The senior won the west prelim title in the javelin as an Aggie in 2018. He will be the favorite at nationals, which will take place next week in Eugene, Oregon.