The wait is over for 17 Utah State track & field athletes.
Dreams of making it to the NCAA Outdoor Championships are on the line for 17 Aggies — 11 men and six women — who will compete in the NCAA West Preliminary Championships, a three-day meet that starts Thursday at Hornet Stadium in Sacramento, California.
“We are excited to send 17 athlete to the first round of the NCAA National Championships this year,” USU head coach Matt Ingebritsen said in a press release. “It’s great for them to get the compete in this championship atmosphere with all of the very best kids from the western part of the United States. Among this 17, we have four returning All-Americans and this should be a great weekend for the Aggies.”
Leading the charge for USU’s contingent is a pair of returning first-team All-Americans in thrower Sindri Gudmundsson and distance runner Cierra Simmons-Mecham. Also competing for the Aggies in the meet are Brenn Flint, a two-time honorable mention All-American in the shot put, and Alyssa Snyder, who was a first-team All-American for Montana State in the 10,000 meters in 2017.
This will be Flint’s fourth time showcasing her skills at the West Prelims, while Simmons-Mecham and Gudmundsson will be making their third appearances. Of the 17 Aggies who qualified for this meet, only six are seniors, and six are freshmen or sophomores.
The top 48 athletes in each event in each of the two preliminary meets, plus the top 24 relay teams, will be competing this week. The NCAA East Preliminary Championships will take place in Jacksonville, Florida.
At each preliminary meet, the top 12 placers in each individual event and the top 12 relay squads will advance to the NCAA Championships, which will be contested from June 5-8 in Austin, Texas. Anyone who punches their ticket to nationals are at least guaranteed of earning honorable mention All-America honors.
“We are to the point of the season where it’s survive and advance,” USU head cross country coach Artie Gulden said in a press release. “We want them to be excited about qualifying for the meet, but not satisfied so they will compete as hard as they can to move on to Austin. Most who qualified have either been here before or competed in other big meets, which will hopefully allow them to not get up in the environment and head to Sacramento ready to take care of business.”
Here are capsules on the 17 Aggies who will be competing this week:
Josh Barclay: The Former Minico (Idaho) High School star qualified in the shot put, which will take place Saturday at 3:45 p.m. The sophomore, who is making his first appearance at this meet, is seeded 35th in the West and 62nd nationally with his Mountain West title-winning mark of 59 feet, 7 inches. Barclay is Idaho’s all-time high school record-holder in the shot put.
Luke Beattie: The junior qualified in the 10,000, which will take place Thursday at 10:40 p.m. Beattie, who will be making his second appearance at this meet, is seeded 18th in the West and 36th nationally with his time of 29 minutes, 0.82 seconds — a clocking that ranks third in the USU record books.
Talie Bonds: The sophomore qualified in the 100 hurdles, which will take place Friday at 5:30 p.m. The Las Vegas native, who is making her debut at this meet, is seeded 36th in the West and 82nd nationally with her altitude-adjusted time of 13.47. Bonds ranks third in program history in the event.
Kyle Brost: The junior qualified in the triple jump, which will take place Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Brost, the school record-holder in the event, is seeded 22nd in the West and 58th nationally with his mark of 50-9.25. The native of Chandler, Arizona is making his first appearance at this meet and is the reigning Mountain West champion in the triple jump.
Jennifer Christensen: The former Grantsville High standout qualified in the high school, which will take place Thursday at 4:30 p.m. The senior is making her first appearance at this meet and is seeded 29th in the West and tied for 54th nationally with her clearance of 5-9.25.
Flint: The Syracuse native is one of three Aggies who will be competing in two events this week. The others are fellow throwers Kyle Morris and Michala Zilkey. Flint qualified in the discus, which will take place Friday at 1 p.m., and the shot put, which will be contested Saturday at 6:15 p.m. Flint will be looking to secure her third straight bid to nationals in the shot put. She is USU’s record-holder in the event and is seeded 12th in the West and 23rd nationally (54-3.75). Flint is seeded 23rd in the West and 39th nationally in the discus with her heave of 175-05, which ranks second in the Aggie record books.
Leaugen Fray: The senior qualified in the high jump, which will take place Saturday at 5 p.m. Teammates Hunter Simonsen and Chandler Obray will also be competing in the event. Fray, who is making his second appearance at this meet, is seeded 20th in the West and tied for 41st nationally with his clearance of 7-0.25. Fray captured the MW title in the event a couple weeks ago.
Gudmundsson: The redshirt junior qualified in the javelin, which will take place Friday at 1 p.m. Gudmundsson is the reigning West prelims champion in the event, plus is a two-time All-American and three-time conference titelist. Gudmudsson’s only throw this season went 241-9, which is good enough for the sixth-best mark in the West and ninth nationally. He is the Mountain West and USU record-holder in the javelin.
Adam Hendrickson: The Box Elder product qualified in the 3,000 steeplechase, which will take place Friday at 10 p.m. The senior, who will be making his second appearance at this meet, is seeded 43rd in the West and 87th nationally with his time of 8:59.40.
Morris: This junior will compete in the shot put and javelin, and will be making his second appearance at this meet in the javelin. Morris is seeded 22nd in the West and 36th nationally in the javelin (224-5), and 36th in the West and 63rd nationally in the shot put (59-5). Morris, the reigning Mountain West runner-up in the shot put, ranks fourth in program history in the javelin.
Obray: The freshman from Layton will be making his first appearance at this meet in the high jump. Obray ranks 33rd in the West and tied for 61st nationally with his clearance of 6-11.
Simmons-Mecham: The former Soda Springs (Idaho) High stalwart qualified in the 3,000 steeplechase, which will take place Friday at 9:20 p.m. The senior is seeded seventh in the West and 10th nationally with her time of 9:56.58. Simmons-Mecham is the USU record-holder in the event and won the Mountain West title as a junior.
Simonsen: The sophomore from Kaysville will be making his debut appearance at this meet in the high jump. Simonsen, the 2019 MW indoor champion, is seeded 18th in the West and tied for 41st nationally with his clearance of 7-0.25.
Stokton Smith: Like Hendrickson, Smith will be competing in the 3,000 steeplechase. The sophomore from Kaysville is seeded 32nd in the West and 56th nationally with his time of 8:54.99. This will be Smith’s first appearance at this meet.
Christian Sonnenberg: The sophomore qualified in the discus, which will take place Friday at 5 p.m. Sonnenberg, who will be making his first appearance at this meet, is seeded 47th in the West and tied for 84th nationally with his mark of 176-11.
Snyder: The senior from Coalville qualified in the 10,000, which will take place Thursday at 10 p.m. The two-time All-American — once in cross country and once in the 10,000 — is seeded 23rd in the West and 44th nationally with her school-record time of 33:50.
Zilkey: This senior will vie for a spot to nationals in the discus and hammer, which will take place Thursday at 5 p.m. Zilkey is seeded 41st in the West and 73rd nationally in the discus (167-7), and 48th in the West in the hammer (188-6). Zilkey ranks in the top 10 in program history in both events.