EUGENE, Ore. — Kemba Nelson ran an all-conditions personal best in the 100 meters Saturday to finish fourth in the NCAA Outdoor championship meet at Hayward Field.
One of four entrants for the Ducks on Saturday’s concluding day of the meet, Nelson was the only one to score. Aneta Konieczek (steeplechase) and Dominique Ruotolo (triple jump) each finished ninth, and the UO 4×100-meter relay team was disqualified after a bad exchange.
The Women of Oregon finished the meet with 19 teams points, bolstered by the five from Nelson in the 100. That total also included 10 from Carmela Cardama Baez’s victory Thursday in the 10,000, and four from Alysah Hickey’s fifth-place finish Thursday in the triple jump.
“Obviously, not the start we wanted,” UO coach Robert Johnson said. “We thought, coming into today, if we hit on all cylinders we would have had a chance to win a trophy. To start that way was a little deflating. We tried to rally but I’m proud of the team and the effort all season. It’s one of those things where we’ll go back to the drawing board and finish out the rest of this postseason at the Trials.”
Nelson, the NCAA Indoor champ at 60 meters, ran 10.90 seconds in Saturday’s 100 final, which featured wind at +2.2. Cambrea Sturgis of North Carolina A&T won in 10.74 seconds, before doubling back to win the 200 as well.
“I knew it was a fast race, but honestly I was surprised when I saw the time — but I did that,” Nelson said. “It feels good after a long season—indoor and outdoor—and running at a high intensity throughout, and to do (10.90) here, I am happy. I can’t complain.”
USC won the women’s team race with 74 points, helped by a sweep of the hurdles races from Anna Cockrell. The Ducks finished tied for 11th in the team scoring.
Oregon’s day began with the DQ in the 4×100, as Nelson — running the second leg — couldn’t get the baton to Jasmin Reed in rhythm. The Pac-12 champs gathered themselves and finished the race but ultimately were disqualified.
“I feel like part of that was for them because of what we talked about after the relay,” Nelson said of her open 100. “I said, ‘I’m not done yet,’ and I still had the 100 to go out and prove what I could do. I was doing it for all of us.”
Konieczek, who set a UO record in the 3,000 steeplechase of 9:34.47 in Thursday’s semifinals, was running with the lead pack Saturday with three laps to go before fading.
Roseburg native Mahala Norris of Air Force was the winner, and the third-place finisher was Washington’s Katie Rainsberger, who began her career at Oregon before transferring.
In the triple jump, Ruotolo put together her best jump on her opening attempt, of 44 feet, 1.5 inches. That helped her advance to the finals, where she did not improve and thus didn’t move up into scoring position.
“When I first stepped on the runway, the energy … I mean, it is Hayward magic. I literally had goosebumps.” Ruotolo said. “…. The first jump was just to get it out of the way because I was so nervous, since it was my first time competing here. When I was down there I could literally feel the energy, so I was trying to think about my phases but I just kept smiling: ‘Oh no, I’m not focused.’ It was a good first jump but I just couldn’t get it going after that.”