Utah distance medley relay team sets school record at Alex Wilson Invitational.
March 2, 2012
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – After breaking the school record at the Alex Wilson Invitational for the second-consecutive year, the University of Utah distance medley relay team fell short of qualifying for the NCAA Championships.
“We ran great tonight and did everything right,” Utah head coach Kyle Kepler said. “We crushed the school record and I couldn’t more proud of this group. Unfortunately, we didn’t finish in the top-12 of the country and don’t get to compete at the NCAA Championships. It is a numb feeling to run that fast and not make it, but credit to the rest of the country for their performances this season.”
The distance medley relay featured all four members clocking lifetime-best splits. Senior Alyssa Abbott led off the race and finished the 1200m split with a time of 3:24.5. Lauryn McKay took the baton for the second leg and posted a 400m split time of 54.5 seconds. With the Utes near the front of the pack, senior Lucy Yates took the baton and finished the 800m with a time of 2:06.98. Amanda Mergaert ran the final 1600m of the relay clocking a time of 4:39, capturing third place overall for the Utes. The relay had a combined time of 11:05.78, which is a new school record.
The overall winner of the event was Nebraska with a time of 10:58.74 followed by Notre Dame (11:04.45).
Unfortunately, the Utes finished just shy of qualifying for the NCAA Championships. The final team to qualify for the national meet was the University of Michigan with a time of 11:04.29.
“This is the fastest ever qualifying times for the distance medley relay,” Kepler said. “If you would have told me at the beginning of the season that we would have performed the way we did tonight, I would have said we would for sure make it to the NCAA Championships. We are all extremely proud of this group. They ran their guts out tonight. It was amazing to watch everyone give it their all tonight. Everybody ran a new personal best and we can’t ask for more.”
Entering the week, Mergaert ranks 20th in the country for her performance in the mile at last weekend’s MPSF Championships. As a three-time NCAA qualifier, Mergaert has her work cut out as typically the NCAA accept the top 18 athletes in the country.
Abbott will also compete in the mile. Following a medical redshirt grant by the NCAA last season, Abbott is set to extend her career by one more week as she eyes breaking the school record and qualifying for her second NCAA Championships.
Yates will compete in the 800m, for the Utes. In 2010, Yates finished 23rd at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 800m. As a senior, Yates is determined to make one more appearance at the national meet as she strives to achieve All-American status.
Making her first appearance at the last chance qualifier meet, McKay is slated to compete in the 400m. McKay has improved on her 400m time at every meet this season. She enters the weekend with a season-best 400m time of 56.37.
McKay will get the day started in the 400m for the Utes. Her race will begin at 12:20 p.m. EST in the Loftus Sports Center in South Bend, Ind.