|Kassi Andersen finishes 1st|
in the Steeplechase
at National Championships
For the third straight year, a BYU athlete has won the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase title at the NCAA National Track & Field Championships, and set the NCAA meet record in the process. Sophomore Kassi Andersen turned in the third fastest time in U.S. history with a time of 9 minutes 44.95 seconds, eclipsing BYU's Michaela Manova's 2002 NCAA Meet record by a second, to win her first national championship in the event.
"You can't plan on being the national champion," Andersen said. "I just kept that thought in the back of my head. I was thinking of all the hard work and effort I have put into this before the race. I told myself to just put it all on the line right now because I didn't want to have any regrets."
Andersen was dead last after the first 250 meters, but began to stagger in on each and every competitor on her way to the championship. Going her designated pace, Andersen moved into eight place with four laps to go, staying tight in the pack in order to conserve energy for the finish.
With three laps to go, the Provo native moved into second place and followed Northern Arizona's Ida Nilsson for the next 650 meters. On the bell lap, the two pulled away from the rest of the field, while Andersen pulled away from Nilsson at the water jump and coasted down the home stretch to victory.
"I knew I had the race at the water jump," Andersen said. "At the bell, she started to kick, and I just went with her. Prior to the race Coach Shane told me to stay with the leader, and if I was close at the water jump, pass her and go. That's exactly what I did."
Teammate Lisa Antonelli also earned All-America honors finishing 12th overall in the event in a personal-best time of 10 minutes 14.37 seconds.
Saturday, the final day of competition, the Cougars competed in three final events. Junior Aneta Lemiesz ran the 800 meters, senior Jaime Cottle competed in the 1,500 meters and Lindsey Metcalf competed in the high jump. All three earned All-American honors.
Cottle made the most of her final performance in a BYU uniform in the 1,500 meters with a school-record performance. Cottle finished seventh with a personal-best time of 4minutes 11.67 seconds.
"Before I came to the track, Coach Shane told me to go out and run with my heart and leave my head at the hotel," Cottle said. "I tried to do that. This whole weekend I feel like I have competed a little outside myself. I'm excited to end my career like this."
With 400 meters remaining, Cottle found herself in 10th place. At the 300-meter mark, she kicked up the pace and reeled in a couple of competitors. With 100 meters left, the native of Howell, Mich., grabbed another gear and passed the Pac-10 champion, Stanford's Malindi Elmore, to finish seventh overall.
"I kicked in to fifth gear with 300 meters left, but still needed a little more," Cottle said. "So, with about 100 meters left, I dropped down to sixth gear and was able to move into seventh and get the school record."
After competing in three races in the past four days, Lemiesz completed the weekend with a seventh-place finish in the 800 meters to earn All-America honors and recorded her fifth-straight PR in the event with a time of 2 minutes 4.03 seconds. Saturday's time marks the third fastest time in BYU women's track history.
"It was a faster race then I thought," Lemiesz said. "The first 200 meters was really fast. I knew I had to stay with them, but the last 200 meters, I just didn't have it. I'm happy though. I know I can run faster, and I will keep working on this event. I'll be faster next year. But, for this year, I'm pretty happy."
Lemiesz, who originally qualified in the event with a time of 2 minutes 5.30 seconds, and was ranked 15th entering the competition, shaved over one second off her time during a series of three different races at the NCAA championships, including the qualifying round, preliminaries and finals.
Metcalf cleared 5 feet 10.5 inches to finish fifth in the high jump, earning All-America honors for the second-straight season. Metcalf earned an All-America citation as a freshman, finishing seventh last season in Baton Rouge.
"Even though I'm happy with my performance at nationals," Metcalf said. "I really wanted to clear the six-foot mark this season. I wish I could have done it this weekend."