2013 NCAA Div I Outdoor Track & Field Championships
A Day Of Magic At Hayward Field
June 7, 2013
The day began under sunny skies as the capacity crowd at Hayward Field was treated to a gold-medal rendition of The Star Spangled Banner by Brigetta Barrett – the defending NCAA champion, the current collegiate leader [6’6Â¼” / 1.96m], the collegiate record holder, and the reigning Olympic silver medalist in the high jump. It’s good to have a broad array of versatile skills…
Almost as a hint of what was to come throughout the day, Stanford’s Kori Carter set the tone for the superior performances that would follow. The junior – the pre-race favorite in the women’s 400H – surprised all with a speedy, convincing, wire-to-wire victory. Her record-shattering time of 53.21 set a new collegiate and meet record – supplanting UCLA’s Sheena Johnson’s 2004 mark of 53.54. In the men’s 400H, USC’s Reggie White was nearly as impressive. The long-striding Trojan led from the gun and was never headed as his winning time of 48.58 lowered his own collegiate leading time of 49.17.
Kansas welcomed the points earned for them by Heptathlete Lindsay Vollmer. The Jayhawk multi star clinched her win in the 800 where her 7-second PR gave her 6086 points and the title. But it was her monster javelin heave of 151’6″ [46.18m] – yet another lifetime best – that not only ensured 10 points for Kansas but also may have punctured the Triple Crown title hopes for the Lady Ducks.
The apprehension was palpable as the finalists loaded into the blocks for the women’s 100. Vollmer’s heptathlon win loomed even larger as the status of Oregon’s English Gardner – suddenly a wounded Duck with a uncooperative right ankle – was most uncertain. Gardner quickly quashed all concerns. With a lightning start, the Oregon junior snatched a quick lead she never relinquished and powered to victory – and 10 big points for the Oregon women. Her 10.96 clocking – 3rd fastest collegiate mark of all time – vanquished an impressive field that included Octavius Freeman [2nd in 11.00] and Kimberlyn Duncan [3rd in 11.08]. Past the finish line, Gardner – on her knees and pounding the track in celebration – signaled that her successful defense of her 100 title had put the Ducks back in the game.
In the men’s 100, a tricky zephyr slightly over the allowable limit was the only tarnish on Charles Silmon’s sparkling winning time of 9.89w. His collegiate leading time equaled the wind-legal collegiate and meet record of Florida State’s Ngonie Makusha – set in the rain in Des Moines in 2011. FSU’s Dentarius Locke [2nd in 9.91] and Ole Miss’ Isiah Young [3rd in 9.96] also dipped under 10 seconds.
It was all business in the women’s 800 final. LSU junior Natolya Goule – the collegiate leader at 2:00.76 – rushed to the front from the opening gun to open up a sizeable lead on an impressive field. Taking the bell in 57.98, Goule pressed on as Oregon junior Laura Roesler moved into position for a furious final furlong. Goule – her face showing the effort – held form to stop the clock for the victory and a lifetime best of 2:00.06 while Roesler – who soaked up that Hayward Magic generously offered by the capacity crowd – also PR’d in 2:01.67 for second.
But there was more Hayward Magic to come. And this time Oregon’s Elijah Greer – the collegiate leader at 1:46.20 – was the magician. Shunning the often ill-fated tendency to lay back, Greer stayed close to early pacesetter Leoman Momoh of Arkansas who was intent to keep the pace honest. The Duck senior made a decisive move just before the 600 meter mark to gain a critical 4 meter advantage. Penn State senior Casimir Loxsom – his last chance to capture an NCAA individual title – made a valiant bid down the final straightaway. But Greer – steeled by the roar of the Hayward faithful – would not crack. Greer [1:46.58] edged the Nittany Lion [1:46.88] for the win while Brannon Kidder [1:47.51] – Loxsom’s frosh teammate – surprised for third.
The women’s 400 provided a special glimpse into the next generation of 400 meter royalty. The race lived up to its pre-race billing as a showdown between the collegiate co-leaders at 50.88: Illinois’ phenomenal long sprinter Ashley Spencer and Georgia’s Bahamian star Shaunae Miller. As the race unfolded, Spencer – who has never lost a collegiate outdoor 400 – pushed hard down the backstretch. Coming off the Bowerman curve, Spencer embraced a two meter lead that Miller – try as she might – couldn’t dent. Spencer – undefeated still! – finished in 50.28 to lower the collegiate leader and claim the #4 spot of the collegiate all-time list. Both Miller [2nd in 50.70] and Oregon’s Phyllis Francis [3rd in 50.86] bettered the old collegiate leading mark.
Sometimes that ethereal Hayward Magic confers its mystical powers upon worthy performers beyond the circle of Oregon athletes. You might ask Bryshon Nellum. The USC star’s career appeared to have been tragically eclipsed when Nellum was the victim of an improbable drive-by shooting several years ago. You wouldn’t have suspected he had endured such a horrible occurrence by watching his stunning, storybook performance in the men’s 400 final. Nellum – the collegiate leader – displayed a special toughness down the final straightaway to hold off Texas A&M’s Deon Lendore – 44.73 to 44.94. Rejoicing his comeback all the way back, Nellum – effusive in the press tent – summed it up well. “It’s a miracle,” the new champion exclaimed.
The final track event of the day was the much-anticipated women’s 5000 – an event with many story lines. Iowa State’s Betsy Saina was seeking to take the 5000 crown as a bookend to her 10,000 win. Dartmouth’s Abbey D’Agostino – the collegiate leader at 15:11.35 – was looking to successfully defend her 5000 title. And Oregon’s Jordan Hasay was seeking to capture that elusive outdoor title in her final collegiate race in front of her adoring Hayward Field fans. After some early pacing work by Kentucky’s Chelsea Oswald, Saina went to the front of the race with less than 6 laps remaining to pick up the pace and control the race tempo. The race was on. With less than 4 laps to go, the defending champion took over the lead and the pace quickened even more. It was Hasay and D’Agostino locked in combat at the bell. When Hasay spurted to the lead, the Oregon faithful roared. But the cool Ivy Leaguer stay poised and proceeded to unleash the decisive move with 300 remaining. It was over immediately. D’Agostino powered home in 15:43.68 and Saina [15:50.26] – awakened from her slumber over the final 200 – rallied to catch a fading Hasay [15:50.78] in the final meters. “I’ve been working on my speed and I feel strong,” the victor noted. “I felt I had a good chance.” Saina was reflective and gracious in defeat. “I was fighting and fighting. But I couldn’t hold the pace. I kicked over the final 200. I’m happy to be here and finish in second place.” A poised Hasay added, “It was bittersweet. I wouldn’t change anything about my career here. I am grateful for all who have supported me. I look forward to focusing on the 10,000. My running career is just getting started.”
Excitement swirled around the men’s high jump – a showdown between Olympic silver medalist Erik Kynard and the Olympic bronze medalist Derek Drouin. It was the first such NCAA showdown since Olympic medalists Lee Evans and Larry James squared off in the
400 way back in 1969. Drouin – who lost to Kynard at Hayward the prior weekend at the Pre Classic – had the upper hand today. With a strategic pass at 2.31m [7’6Â¾”] after an initial, Drouin moved to the next height of 2.34m [7’8″]. When Kynard – jumping clean through 2.31m – was unsuccessful at three attempts at this height, Drouin’s third-attempt clearance at 2.34 gave him his fifth NCAA title. “It’s only the second time I’ve ever done that [passed to the next height after a miss],” noted the winner. “And it’s the first time it’s worked.” Kynard was a realist in the wake of his loss. “He’s a great jumper,” acknowledge Kynard about his foe. I won last week. He beat meet this week. He had make 2.34 to beat me and he made it. It happens.”
In other field events, UCLA junior and Olympian Julian Wruck captured the discus title with a mark of 213’1″ [64.94m]. San Diego State’s Shanieka Thomas took the triple jump with an impressive leap of 46’4Â¾” [14,14m] – once again relegating Kansas’ Andrea Guebelle [44’8Â¾” / 13.63m] to the runner-up position. The pole vault title was won by Bethany Buell of South Dakota with a 14’7Â¼” [4.45m] clearance.
And so the stage is set. The Kansas women will take a 15 point lead over the Lady Ducks heading into the final day of competition. On the men’s side, Texas and USC will start the Saturday events tied for the lead. And that means track & field fans will fill Hayward Field to see the final chapter of these battles for the NCAA team crown.