ESPN gets kudos on their last day coverage of NCAA Women's Track & Field Outdoor Champs


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We asked Jeff Benjamin to review the coverage fo the last day of the NCAA Men and Women's coverage on ESPN from June 8-11. This is the review of the last day of the women's coverage, which was a fantastic day of track & field!

Well, television viewers can't say there wasn't equal coverage, that's for sure. In the same mode of operation as yesterday's coverage of the Men's competition, ESPN gave sound and equal treatment to the last day of the Women's competition in Hayward Field. As Dwight Stones proclaimed at the beginning of the broadcast, "Today is Ladies Day in Eugene". Leading off the coverage was the exciting 4X100 relay as LSU's Rushell Harvey anchor leg looked easy and smooth leading her squad to the win in 42.65.

Like yesterday's men's 4X100, ESPN showed great replays of each of the exchanges, culminating in Harvey's anchor leg. After a brief intro piece led by Stones, Rawson and Jill Montgomery (once again working on the field) set up the stage for the oncoming show with Stones mentioning that the presence of great athletes included some "who are world class", with Rawson echoing the hope of some of these athletes making their respective Olympic teams.

In an emotional piece prior to the 1500 Marta Freitas of Mississippi State was previewed including the sad facts about her dad who tragically passed away at a meet 2 years ago in Portugal. The race itself started out slow with some pushing amongst the runners.

Rawson then commented on Freitas' small tattoo on her wrist commemorating her father. "She said it always reminds me that he is still with me." After the first 400, Freitas surged to the lead but, with 2 laps to go the pack still there and by the bell lap there were still 5 runners. With 200 to go Elise Cranny of Stanford tried to go for the win but then Freitas put her surge on, leading off the final turn, but then almost facing the nightmare of every runner and coach, Freitas slowed and celebrated before the finish line and it was close at the line between Freitas and Cranny, leading the announcers to speculate If she celebrated too early.

Rawson stated," Coaches tell you this all the time ; run the race as though it's 1500 meters plus 4 more meters! Don't hit the line slowing down!" It was then determined that Freitas won by 1 - 1000th of a second, with Stones adding,"That was almost an extremely expensive lesson to learn, but you know what? A win is a win." In the closest finish in NCAA meet history Freitas beat 4:09.530 to 4:09.534.

After a commercial ESPN showed a cameo of track fan and NFL Quarterback Robert Griffin III, and then it was on to the Steeplechase, with Courtney Frerichs of New Mexico setting the pace. In between a few laps was not a commercial break but rather a quick Heptathlon recap, with the return to the Steeple showing Frerichs dominating the field. With Rawson acknowledging the on - their - feet applauding Hayward fans as "Very knowledgeable crowd ; what a classy move by the fans" Frerichs broke the finish in 9:24.41 a time which broke Jenny Barringer-Simpson's 7 year record and also beat her second place finisher by a whopping 17 seconds.

The Meet then went in to show Texas A&M' Maggie Malone win the Javelin with 204-0, a new NCAA record along with her happy sister and teammate Audrey Malone throwing 187-2.

The Women's 100 hurdles was won in a wind aided 12.54 by Freshman Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Kentucky, but not before 2 falls in the race added to the drama and excitement. There am seemed to be no distractions for the champion, as Camacho-Quinn told Montgomery after the race, "I don't pay attention to my surroundings".

It was then on to the Shot put as Ole Miss Soph Raven Saunders set
a new collegiate record throw of 63'-5". Then, before a euphorically loud crowd, Ariana Washington of Oregon, who, according to Stones, Stones, " did not have a great start", nonetheless Powered on to win in 10.95 prompting Rawson to exclaim, "This crowd went bananas" and the victorious Washington telling lMontgomery that,"Hayward field magic is so real!"

After a Commercial break ESPN, like in yesterday's broadcast showed
Jenny Barringer-Simpson's tweet congratulations to Frerichs with the words, "So thrilled for you."

Perhaps ESPN wanted to show equal coverage with the men's coverage from yesterday in once again showing the piece on the History of Hayward Field again? That's the only reason one can see, which only added to the aura of Eugene when it comes to the Spirt.

The Women's 400 was all Courtney Okolo of Texas as around the final turn Stones described her as she, " gobbled up distance" and powered her way to a dominating win 50.36. According to Rawson
3 of the top 8 times in the world this year have been recorded by the Texas star, with Montgomery interviewing the victor and stating, "And she's not even breathing hard!"

Like with King Edward yesterday there was a quick Recap of the 10K from the the bell lap as Arkansas Senior Dominique Scott dominated the race in 32.35.69. And like Cheserak she'd be returning later in the 5k!

ESPN then quickly showed the victorious Hammer throw of 234' 8" by Deanna Price of Southern Illinois which beat her competition by almost 20 ft.

Following the Hammer was Ling Jumper Chanice Porter of Georgia, who Stones exclaimed, "Saved the Best for last" in jumping 21' 10 3/4" for the win.

The Pole Vault Was next as the high school record holder Alexis Weeks, who now competes for Arkansas, cleared 14' -9" for the victory. There followed the progression of Kansas State's Akela Jones in the Heptathlon - with the focus on her lead going into the 800 heptathlon final.

The 800 still had a pack with a lap to go (59.40) but then Oregon's Raevyn Rogers moved from 4th to 3rd on the backstretch and then, with 200 to go made her move to blow away her competition in the final turn, clocking 2:00.75 before the screaming hometown crowd prompting Montgomery to comment in regards to on Olympic Trials preparations that this was a "Dress Rehearsals for perhaps the Olympics!"

Speaking of Olympic dress rehearsals Stones could not hide his affection and enthusiasm for the 400 hurdles star Shamier Little of Texas A&M.

"I adore this child. I love this bow!", he said of the last years Beijing World Championship Silver medalist.

Dominating the race in a winning time of 53.51, which is the fastest time in the world this year (hashtag #fearthebow) Rawson explained the fundamentals in being successful in this event. "The key is to count your steps, not stutter step", said Rawson. Showing another tweet on the screen this time paying homage to Little's performance, Angelo Taylor tweeted, "She reminds me of a young Angelo Taylor!"

After a commercial break ESPN once again showed the Planning for success piece, but this time it was with the Women's coches Robert Johnson of Oregon and Lance Harter of Arkansas.

Once again, Hayward fans erupted at the finish of the 200 as Oregon's Arianna Washington (22.21) and Deajah Stevens (22.25) led a 1-2 finish for the Ducks.

After another commercial break came the 1st heat of the Heptathlon 800 final and then a snippet of the Triple Jump American Record (47' 8") of Georgia's Keturah Orji followed by the 2nd heat of the Heptathlon 800. In the race both Stones and Rawson were amazed by the overall leader Akeela Jones battle to stay in 2ndvplace for the race but her sub-sequential slowdown and then walking at the 600 mark! Remarked Rawson- "I've never seen this happen in a championship meet before...she was way over her pace head wise"

Sadly Jones Fell at the finish exhausted and also fell out of contention for the win, finishing 3rd to Kendall Williams of Georgia.

After leading a bunched up pack in the Women's 5000 Dominique Scott Accelarated at the bell lap and once again won easily in 15:57.07. During the race (which included a quick question and answer between Montgomery and Tracktown's leader Vin Lannana, who gave kudos to the great crowds of knowledgeable fans at Hayward Field Rawson once again tried to relate an event on the track to the mainstream viewers, explaining how the joggers and runners in 5K events can relate to and appreciate Scott's performance.

The emotional winner told Montgomery that she hoped her country of South Africa would select her to compete in Rio. Rawson then discussed her early on "hard college adjustment" that got better due to the unwavering support from her Coach and the team.

In the final event, the 4X400, USC dropped the baton during the 2nd leg exchange, prompting an incredulous Stones to state, "I'm always amazed how much trouble the athletes have with it". Off the final turn Texas Senior Courtney Okolo's 50.4 anchor came out of nowhere to blow by her competitors winning in 3:27.64 with Taylor Ellis-Watson of Arkansas almost matching Okolo's split and finishing right behind her, officially giving the Razorbacks the team title. " What a great way for her to go out!, exclaimed Stones at the end of the last event conducted.

Angie Lansing of the NCAA then presented the Arkansas Women with their first ever NCAA Outdoor Championship trophy with Coach Harter talking about the drive, passion and dedication possessed by his athletes. One thing's for sure - that same drive, passion and dedication were definitely shown by ESPN' s Broadcasters!

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