Thursday, June 18, 2015

2015 NCAA Championships

This is a fun meet. Neat to see budding stars laying it down.

We also have to be on top of our game. Given that the meet is also a team competition, any foul can cost a team points in the overall standings, and many coaches get bonuses or larger travel stipends based on how their team performs. A single point (8th place) can be very significant.

In other words, the coaches will scream 'foul' if someone spits the wrong way.

Men's Wednesday:

Florida's Marquis Dendy wins the men's long jump for the second year in a row, the kid just has monster springs. 27'8" is a huge leap for a college kid. His coach must be very proud...

Baylor soph Trayvon Bromell, defending 100m champ, says he's not bothered by the new schedule:
Wednesday: men's semis and 10k final
Thursday: women's semis and 10k final
Friday: men's finals
Saturday: women's finals

The timing means that people doubling in sprint events (ex 100/200) have two heats on their first day and two on their second. Possibly more, if they run the 4 x 1 relay. But Trayvon is not worried.....or is he?

Oregon's Cheserek and Jenkins go 1-2 in the 10,000m for 18 points. It was a slow race in the first half, and then the Texas kid remembered that Ches has a monster kick. So Texas starts pushing thru the second half, nothing to lose.

It doesn't matter: Ches and Jenkins hammer the last lap and break everyone's legs. The home team ends the day with a 34-16 lead over Florida.
Thursday: Ladies's turn

The form charts predict a very tight race on the women's side. Probably five teams have a shot at winning.

UO Junior Jenna Prandini qualified in 4 events and starts her meet with a 2nd place in the long jump; she won it last year.

As i'm walking near the shot put competition, I see a bunch of spectators yelling, "LET'S GO EAT!"
I think, "that's a little rude." Shot putters are not prone to ignore food, but there's a bit of PC called for, no?


Southern Illinois Frosh Raven Saunders wins the shot put on her last throw. It was her teammates yelling their rallying cry. Okaaaaaaaay....

As a high schooler last year, she didn't have the money to travel from Charleston to Eugene for Junior Nationals. So she did what all good Americans do; she created a GoFundMe account. She raised enough for her and her mother to make the trip; good thing, because she won Junior Nationals. I believe that qualified her for travel expenses to come back three weeks later for Junior Worlds, where she placed second to a foreign behemoth. Raven also got a full ride to SIU out of it. You go, girl...

10k defending champ Emma Bates is the odds-on favorite, and she busts open the field with 4 laps to go, dropping a 66 or something ridiculous. I think, 'it's over.'

It sure was. After her breakout lap, she fades like an old t-shirt and finishes out of the money. She said she had no regrets....huh? I can see working on tactics, but not in a championship race.

Men's (Friday):

Cheserek/Jenkins 1-2 in the long distance double, with a bonus 4th place by Will Geoghegan, who looks a lot like a young Prefontaine.

Geoghegan in middle

Freshman Prefontaine, circa 1969

Florida's Dendy doubles in the triple jump, and but for a wisp of wind over the legal limit, would have broken the NCAA record.

USC Junior Andre de Grasse runs a ridiculous 9.75 in the 100m, then an equally ridiculous 19.58 in the 200m. Both had excessive wind. Still, those are world class times.

He's from Ontario, and says he looks forward to helping Canada compete against the US in the sprints.

I have to editorialize....

I'm all for national unity. It just aggravates the crap out of me when an athlete:
  • leaves their home country for opportunities elsewhere
  • comes to the US for college
  • partakes of benefits within US programs
  • excels under US programs
  • then competes against the US
Mo Farah didn't do much of anything until he moved to Portland to train. Yet he won two Olympic golds as a 'British citizen.'      Of course, there are recent allegations might have less to do with his Portland training and more to do with his Portland pharmacist. But I digress...

Okay, I feel better now.

The men's steeple provides a photo op for the ages. A Michigan kid hits the water barrier and tumbles ass over teakettle into the water. The photographer, on the inside of the track, snaps a shot, with the kid's entire body dry except for his head. Yes, a picture perfect dive. Since he landed in the shallow part of the pit, it's a wonder the kid didn't break his neck. 

After a couple of unexpected 2nd places in the 110HH and 400m, not to mention the 23 points from the 5000, UO puts a wrap on their 2nd straight NCAA Championship.

Late that night after the 5k final, I'm eating dinner at a Thai restaurant's patio on 12th and Oak, when I see a familiar stride go jogging by. None other than Eric Jenkins! I give him a shout-out and he returns the salute.

Saturday Women's:

Gut check time. The SEC sprinters are licking their chops with Oregon in their sights. Everyone knew the women's overall was gonna be tight. And we all said "CRAP" after the UO 4x1 team blew it in the 2nd zone. First event, too!

women's 100m. Oregon's Prandini had 3 events and needed to score lots of points.

The gun fires, and she is STUCK in the blocks. It looked like she had to dig herself out.

After about 2 steps, I said, "She's screwed."

They're heading away from me, so I don't have a good vantage point.

At 50m, i'm still shaking my head. (looking at the video screen by now).

At 70m, i'm thinking, "maybe top three."

At 90m, I'm thinking, 'top two.'

At the line, I see she got it. by 0.01 seconds, good lean. Man, that crowd was loud!!!! Very cool. She seems like a good kid

800m: Oregon's Raevyn Rogers wasn't projected for top three. The girl who led hit 200m in 24 seconds and 400 in 56; as she passed me, I said she'll fold quickly. That's an insane, suicidal pace for pros, much less college. It never works for Alysia Montano in the big international meets.

Meanwhile, the UO girl is a freshman...I was imploring her not to give in and chase, but to run her own race, and she heard me!! Except with 150 to go, another girl comes smoothly up to her shoulder and is poised to kick...

And then Raevyn takes her to the woodshed in the sprint! She maintained perfect form and just motored away....that was INCREDIBLE composure and tactics....FROM A FRESHMAN! And sub-2:00.   HUGE! that win was a complete surprise to the crowd, and an enormous lift to the UO team. very, VERY loud stadium. And a rather violent victory celebration when she crossed the line! Right before she started bawling.

Shamir Little from Texas A&M is a beast, just solid form the whole way. She stayed within herself and exploded in the last 80m when she needed to. Back to back winner, and defending World Junior Champ.

I was hoping Prandini could get the double in the 200. Just like last year, she had the lead with 50 to go and barely got nosed out. She'll get stronger as she gets older. Regardless, she contributed 26 points to her team.

FSU girl in the 400 came out of nowhere in lane 8. The two favorites in the middle were shoulder to shoulder, and this girl snuck in the back door. Photo finish and a pause while it was being sorted out, and then she started screaming!

MSU's Leah O'Connor, defending steeple champ, fell on her butt the day before while exiting the stands and was worried about a hairline fracture. Nothing that dramatic, just very sore. Due to the therapeutic effects of ice, she recovered enough to take 3rd in the final a day later.

The UO women won their first title in 30 years by a slim 9 points. Great showing on the home track!

I'm looking forward to becoming a head umpire, so my lodging will be paid and I won't have to drive right after the meet. it would be nice to chill out after the meet is done!

A couple days later, the Tx A&M coach just complained in an interview that having the championships in Oregon is 'an unfair advantage.' Interesting; he didn't say that in the years that his teams swept the event at Hayward!!!!

Dude, if you don't have runners qualifying for the finals, no venue is going to help you!!! His teams were absent in so many of the scoring events. And the homefield advantage sure didn't help the UO 4x1 relay team that was DQ'd!    He had a strong runner in the men's 400 (Lendore), but the kid pulled up on the backstretch injured. That's Oregon's fault???   Here's his own track...the VERY SPARSE bleachers are a mile away from the track!!! Come on, man: find a similar or better venue than Hayward if you want a more neutral site.

And oh by the way: after he failed to win either the 100 or 200, Baylor's Bromell complained about the schedule. Just like he said he wouldn't!
I got slapped a bit for the men's 5k; there was some bumping with about 600m to go, nothing big. I didn't write anything up, but several coaches protested. None of the protests were upheld, citing incidental contact. But I guess the referees in the big meets also want us to write up anything that could be construed as a violation, even if it wasn't a full-blown foul. That way, they could cite the umpire's non-call as further justification to let the results stand. Good to know.

Great meet.


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