Fifteen members of the University of Wyoming track and field program will compete at the NCAA West Preliminary meet in Fayetteville, Arkansas today through Saturday.

Eight Cowboys and seven Cowgirls will try to finish in the top 12 of their event in order to advance on to the NCAA Championships next month in Eugene, Oregon.

The 15 qualifiers for the NCAA West Preliminary are the most in the program's history since the current system was put in place in 2010.

Wyoming track and field head coach Bryan Berryhill says to have that many qualifiers in his second year, "It shows me we're moving in the right direction... What's exciting about these 15 is I feel like a good portion of them have a chance to advance."

Senior thrower Mason Finley is the highest ranked qualifier for the Cowboys. He is second in the West in the discus, thanks to a toss of 210-6. Also among the top 15 for the men are senior Garrett Zans, who is ranked tenth in the steeplechase, and junior Paul Thomas, who sits 13th in the discus. Both Zans and Thomas will compete in their third regional meet.

Zans says, "Since I've been there before, I'm not as shocked as I used to be. When I first went, it was kind of like, holy crap, these kids are fast; it was really intimidating going there. Now, I'm to the point where it's not nearly as intimidating; it's not nearly as scary. I know where I stand. I know where everyone else stands."

The top Cowgirl is senior Taylor Gardner in the 400-meter hurdles. She has the 13th best time in the region.

This is Gardner's second trip to this meet, and she says, "It is hard not to, you know, kind of put it up on a pedestal, and try and get yourself hyped up. I think that's the biggest thing we've been focusing on this last week and a half; just approaching it as I have been all year."

Five of the 15 Wyoming athletes will compete today. The meet will start with field events and 11 a.m., Mountain Time, while the track events will begin at 3:30 p.m., Mountain Time.

To find out more on the Wyoming contingent at this competition, click here.

If you would like to see a schedule of the action this weekend, click here.

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