The NCAA outdoor track and field championships got underway Wednesday with five field event finals, the women’s 10,000 meter finals and qualifying in a number of other events on the track including qualifying heats of the men’s 100 meters that saw three times at or under 10.00.
Chelsea Cassulo threw 69.12 meters to win the women’s hammer throw, finishing ahead of Brittany Smith and Alena Krechyk with the top three finishers separated by less than three feet. Cassulo’s winning throw came on her final toss of the competition
In the women’s long jump, TCU’s Lorraine Ugen easily out-jumped the competition posting a best jump of 6.77 meters, equalling a mark set by the legendary Gail Devers.
In the men’s shot put Texas’s Ryan Crouser at long last dethroned five time indoor and outdoor national champion Jordan Clarke of Arizona State by less than an inch.
Ole Miss’s Sam Kendricks was the only pole vaulter to clear 5.70 and took first place in the event when Jack Whitt of Oral Roberts elected to pass at 5.70 but couldn’t clear the bar on either of his jumps at 5.75 meters.
Florida freshman Marija Vucenovic made the most of the first throw of the meet, throwing 54.76m, ultimately good enough to win the event. Oregon multi-sport phenom Liz Brenner was eighth overall in the javelin.
On the track preliminary rounds of sprint events saw both fast times and heartbreak. Oregon’s Mike Berry missed out on the 400 meter final by four one-thousandths of a second.
“I talked a little bit on ESPN about the ebbs and flows of a championship meet,” Oregon head coach Robert Johnson said. “It’s going to be like that tomorrow and the rest of the weekend, and those that handle those highs and lows the best will be happy on Saturday.”
Among the highs for Oregon were a heat victory for Elijah Greer in the 800 and the women’s 4×100 relay team. Jenna Prandini and English Garner — both members of the relay team as well — both finished second in their 100 meter heats to advance to the final.
“Just like indoors, she wasn’t even ‘supposed to’ be in that race,” Johnson said. “Those people that create those form charts, Jenna Prandini seems to be one of those people that messes them up every time.”
Meanwhile in the men’s 100 prelims Dentarius Locke of Florida State turned in a 9.97 time only to be outdone moments later by Charles Silmon‘s 9.92. Texas A&M’s Prezel Hardy Jr was the first one out of the 100 meter final despite running a 10.11.
In the women’s 10,000 meter final Betsy Saina finished in 33:08.85 to win it for Iowa State. The race ran as a tight pack early on with a relatively slow early pace before Saina made a late kick to pull ahead.
The NCAA championships continue on Thursday with the conclusion of the decathlon, the men’s 10,000 meter finals, men’s hammer throw and long jump and the women’s discus.
Oregon decathlete Dakotah Keys is in 15th after five events, about 400 points behind leader Jermey Taiwo of Washington. Just six points behind Taiwo is Duke’s Curtis Beach, responsible for setting the pace in the decathlon 1500 Olympic Trials that clinched the World Record for Ashton Eaton.