The NCAA Championships is four days of track and field nirvana. Runblogrun.com has Roy Stevenson, Dave Hunter and Kevin Mangan covering the championships for you. Here is Roy’s first piece on the first day of the NCAA Championships….
NCAA Championships Day 1 Report
By Roy Stevenson
Only four days after the Pre Classic, Eugene was host to the NCAA Division I Track & Field Championships. The hot Pre Classic weather, in the mid 80s, prevailed, providing excellent temperatures for the sprinters and explosive eventers, but causing some suffering among the long distance runners. In fact, the women’s 10,000 meters started at the pedestrian pace of just under 6 minutes/mile.
The qualifiers for the men’s 400m final gave nothing away as the qualifiers in the three semifinals ran between 45.19 and 45.70. George Mason Senior, David Verburg, ran the fastest time of the day, and Akheem Gauntlett’s 45.691 cost last year’s Oregon runner-up, Mike Berry, a place in the final by a mere 0.004 seconds! Berry appeared flat throughout the whole race and could not muster a hard finish.
Other fastest qualifiers included Florida State Junior James Harris, 45.23, Texas A & M Sophomore Deon Lendore’s 45.36, and USC Senior Bryshon Nellum’s 45.42. On paper, Nellum, Lendore, Verburg, and Harris look good for placings, but this is one event where anything can go wrong and outsiders can surprise.
The women’s 400m unfolded as predicted with the season’s fastest trio winning their semifinals. Georgia frosh, Shaunae Miller, took the first semi in 51.57 (equal fastest time) unchallenged from Lenora Guion-Formin (52.03). In semifinal two, Illinois sophomore Ashley Spencer was first across the line in 51.61, and in semifinal #3, Arkansas senior Regina George easily prevailed in 51.57.
The men’s 800m semifinals were won by the fastest seeds, but the slow times gave spectators little opportunity to see what the runners are really capable of. Arkansas Senior Leoman Momon took the first semi in 1:47.44 from Declam Murray (Loyola) by .04 seconds, giving them the fastest times of the day.
Casimir Loxsom (Penn State) won the second semifinal in 1:48.71 from Eliud Rutto (Middle Tenessee State) by .2 seconds, and Oregon’s Elijah Greer soundly out sprinted the field to win the third semi in 1:48.76 in a late dash. Greer looks set to win the final, having a season’s fastest time of 1:46.20 and a sound competitive record all season.
The first two semis in the women’s 800m proceeded exactly as the book makers would have predicted based on seed times. Semifinal #1 was taken by LSU Junior Natoya Goule in 2:03.77 from Lauren Wallace (2:04.05), the two fastest seeds. Semifinal #2 also proceeded according to seeding times with Oregon Junior Laura Roesler breaking the tape in 2:03.63 from Stanford Senior Justine Fedronic (2:04.07).
Semifinal three was more of an open race and 5th seeded LSU Senior Charlene won in 2:03.22 from Duke Senior Cydney Ross (2:03.62). Predictions for the final would have to include Goule to win, with the minor places being sorted between Wallace, Roesler, Lipsey and Ross.
If consistency were used to determine the winners in track and field, things would have looked different in the men’s shot put results. Third seeded Ryan Crouser won the shot put with an interesting combination of five fouls and one winner (on his third put). Arizona State Senior Jordan Clarke had a more consistent series of throws to win silver, coming within 3 centimeters of Crouser’s 20.31m with a 20.28m throw, and three other puts over 20m. Clarke must have been shaking his head at Crouser’s “big one” that was then followed by three duds. Ah, that’s track and field for you! Texas Tech Sophomore Kole Weldon’s third place was exactly one meter behind Clarke’s best throw.
It was a battle of the freshmen as Georgia’s Freya Jones wrested the women’s Javelin title with her fifth throw (54.95m) from Florida Freshman Marija Vucenovic who had led the competition with her first round throw of 54.76m. Stanford Sophomore Brianna Bain secured bronze with her fourth round throw of 53.93m. Penn State’s Lauren Kenney, who had thrown the farthest before the meet (54.02m) finished fifth with 53.88m.