ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Utah State’s men’s track & field team grabbed the lead Thursday at the 2016 Mountain West Indoor Track and Field Championships by winning the only scored event on the opening day of competition.
Juniors Benjamin Johnston and Landon Watts, along with sophomores Jordan Beutler and Dillon Maggard, teamed up to win the distance medley relay (DMR) in 9:47.99, narrowly edging Boise State, which finished second at 9:48.34.
“The men were fantastic,” said veteran head coach Gregg Gensel. “They ran against a really good Boise State team and the other teams are pretty good in the conference, too, so they showed that they belong here. They won it with an awesome time, one of the fastest times I’ve seen a team run in this meet. I’m really proud of the way they did that.”
It’s the second-fastest time in school history, trailing only the time of 9:43.11 set in 2011.
“We honestly didn’t know if we were even going to be racing together until pretty much the day of,” Maggard said. “We came out and performed well. Everyone did well in each leg.”
Johnston led things off for the Aggies by running the 1,200-meter leg, followed by Watts (400m), Beutler (800m) and Maggard (mile).
“Jordan caught the Boise State runner and put me in good position, so by the time I got the baton, I was ahead,” Maggard said. “Running ahead like that was actually pretty hard and scary just because I didn’t know what my pace was and I was afraid the Boise State guy was going to catch me. I looked back a good amount of times just to see where he was because I could hear him.”
By winning the DMR, the Aggies earned 10 points as a team. Boise State is second with eight points and Air Force is in third with six points.
The women’s DMR team of sophomores Kelsey Yamauchi and Breann Bate, junior Tori Parkinson and freshman Shannon Maloney also had a stellar showing in the event. The Aggies finished seventh overall, but they crossed the finish line with a school-record time of 11:49.14. The previous record of 11:50.29 was set in 2011.
“I feel like our competition has increased a lot since last year, when we took third,” Parkinson said. “We broke the school record, which means we ran faster this year, but the competition is harder. It’s hard to keep your head up while you’re running when you’re in the back, but you just have to know you can still run a good time.”
Boise State placed first in the women’s DMR with a meet-record time of 11:16.41. In fact, the first five teams to cross the finish line all broke the meet record of 11:37.96, set by BYU in 2007.
“The women set the school record and finished seventh, which shows you how strong the women are in the conference,” Gensel said. “Both teams ran fantastic. We’re just not there yet with the women’s team, but we’ve got the right people and we’re developing them and we’re going in the right direction.”
With the two points they earned in the DMR, the Aggie women are currently in 11th place in the team standings.
All five events of the women’s pentathlon took place on Thursday. Freshmen Alyssa Hirschi and Emily Reed both competed for the Aggies. Hirschi placed 11th with 3,419 points, but Reed did not finish.
“Alyssa and Emily are both really young and have never done a multi-event before this year,” Gensel said. “They’re going to be good when they get a few more multis under their belts.”
The first four events of the men’s heptathlon (60m, long jump, shot put, high jump) also took place Thursday, and a pair of Aggies took part in the competition in junior Bradford Strobell and freshman Samuel Wing.
“The thing that stood out the most today was having my teammates here,” Strobell said. “It was nice having them cheer me on and that really helped my long jump. It was a good environment to compete in.”
Strobell currently sits in seventh place in the heptathlon standings with 2,660 points. His best finish of the day was in the long jump, where he placed third (6.70m/21-11.75).
“I want to finish strong on Friday,” Strobell said. “The second day is my better day of the two, so just going out and doing what I normally do and hopefully, it all works out.”
Wing is in 11th place with 2,428 points.
Friday’s action begins at 11 a.m. with the final three events of the heptathlon. The field events begin at 12:30 p.m. with the women’s weight throw, while the track events start at 1:30 p.m. with qualifying for the men’s mile.
“We have a lot of momentum going and I really think our team can keep it going for the rest of the weekend,” Parkinson said.
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UTAH STATE RESULTS
MOUNTAIN WEST INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
FEBRUARY 25, 2016
1. Colorado State – 13
2. Nevada – 11
3. Boise State – 10
4. Fresno State – 8
5. Air Force – 7
T6. Wyoming – 6
T6. San Jose State – 6
T6. New Mexico – 6
9. San Diego State – 5
10. UNLV – 4
11. UTAH STATE – 2
1. UTAH STATE – 10
2. Boise State – 8
3. Air Force – 6
4. Colorado State – 5
5. Wyoming – 4
6. New Mexico – 3
USU WOMEN RESULTS:
Pentathlon (finals) – 11. Alyssa Hirschi, 3,419 points; — Emily Reed, DNF
Pentathlon 60m Hurdles – 12. Alyssa Hirschi, 9.38; 17. Emily Reed, 9.85.
Pentathlon High Jump – 11. Alyssa Hirschi, 1.56m (5-01.25); — Emily Reed, NH
Pentathlon Shot Put – 7. Alyssa Hirschi, 10.75m (35-03.25); 17. Emily Reed, 8.16m (26-09.25).
Pentathlon Long Jump – T12. Alyssa Hirschi, 5.11m (16-09.25); 16. Emily Reed, 4.88m (16-00.25).
Pentathlon 800m – 8. Alyssa Hirschi, 2:27.10.
DMR (finals) – 7. Utah State (Yamauchi, Bate, Maloney, Parkinson), 11:49.14*.
USU MEN RESULTS:
Heptathlon (four events) – 7. Bradford Strobell, 2,660 points; 11. Samuel Wing, 2,428 points.
Heptathlon 60m Dash – 5. Samuel Wing, 7.21; 8. Bradford Strobell, 7.29.
Heptathlon Long Jump – 3. Bradford Strobell, 6.70m (21-11.75); 8. Samuel Wing 6.19m (20-03.75).
Heptathlon Shot Put – 10. Bradford Strobell, 9.81m (32-02.25); 11. Samuel Wing, 8.66m (28-05.00).
Heptathlon High Jump – T5. Bradford Strobell, 1.84m (6-00.50); 10. Samuel Wing, 1.75m (5-08.75).
DMR (finals) – 1. Utah State (Johnston, Watts, Beutler, Maggard), 9:47.99.
* = Utah State Record
x = Meet Record
& = Conference Record