Eugene- one last hurrah for “historic” Hayward Field and the clouds and rain rolled in for the NCAA Track & Field Championships at University of Oregon. Many might have seen this as a potential ominous sign for the men’s and women’s teams of Oregon. However, hopes of national titles for either group were seemingly washed away with the precipitation.
The Georgia Bulldogs comfortably wrapped up the men’s national title with 52 team points, a full 10 ahead of second place Florida. Georgia swept the shot put and hammer throw as well as nabbing a third place finish in the 200 and a 3-5 finish in the high jump. USC, who finished with 34 points, were bolstered by Michael Norman’s win in the 400 which shattered the meet record of 44.00 with a 43.61 finish.
The Oregon men, however, finished with a total of 8 team points, their lowest total in 16 years. Cravon Gillespie finished 4th in the 100 meters and Sam Prakel placed 6th in the 1,500. In essence, the most exciting performance from a local may have been the man protesting the reconstruction of Hayward Field.
The women’s team had troubles of their own over the weekend. The women of Troy were the queens of the crop as USC corralled the national title in dramatic fashion as Kendall Ellis provided a photo-finish anchor leg in the 4x400 relay for a 1 point win over Georgia. Oregon’s 4x400 team finished 3rd, but by that point the Ducks had been eliminated from contention.
Alaysha Johnson posted a 13.22 finish in the hurdles, placing 7th. Ariana Washington, who swept the 2016 100 and 200, finished this year’s 100 in 8th with a time of 11.50. Makenzie Dunmore suffered a hamstring injury on the final turn of the 400 and went down on the track before eventually rising and limping to the finish line for 8th place.
The highlight for Oregon was provided by Jessica Hull, who rode the roar of the home crowd around the Bowerman Curve to a 1st place finish in the 1,500 with a time of 4:08.75, a personal best and the 4th best in school history.
After winning this same meet a year ago, the women finished 7th overall with 39 team points.