English and Elijah Electrify NCAAs

EUGENE, Ore. – English Gardner and the Oregon women roared into contention, while Elijah Greer slipped into overdrive to win the men's 800 meters in style Friday before 10,128 fans at Historic Hayward Field.

(PHOTO) Jun 7, 2013; Eugene, OR, USA; English Gardner of Oregon (3) celebrates after defeating Octavious Freeman (5) and Aurieyall Scott (4) of UCF to win the womens 100m in 10.96 in the 2013 NCAA Championships at Hayward Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Gardner led a 32-point day for the women as they raced into second place with 33 points, trailing only Kansas with 48 points.

Greer, the only competitor for the men on Friday, upped the Ducks' total to 18 and tied with UCLA for sixth, USC led the competition with 32 points, followed by Texas with 32, Arkansas with 30.5, Florida State with 21.5 and Texas A&M with 21.

"We definitely did some good things out there," said Oregon head coach Robert Johnson. "There were some things that exceeded our expectations. Overall, it was a good day."

Gardner shot out of the blocks like a cannon and gutted her way to the finish line to win the 100 meters in a Pac-12 and school record 10.96 seconds. It was her second straight NCAA 100 title.

"It's the icing on top of the cake," said Gardner. "I love the Oregon fans and I love Hayward Field. I'm very happy and I'm pleased. I thank my abilities and I thank the Lord."

The junior from Voorhees, N.J. tied for the third-fastest time in NCAA history, and broke the Pac-12 record of 10.97 seconds set by UCLA's Gail Devers in 1987. In collegiate history, she now trails only Dawn Sowell of Louisiana State (10.78) and Simone Facey of Texas A&M (10.95).

"I heard she told you that you'd see her in the 100 meter dash yesterday and she was right," said Gardner. "You saw her in a big way."

Also in the 100, freshman Jenna Prandini recorded a seventh place finish in 11.43 to tack on two more points for the Ducks.

Laura Roesler ran her best race as a Duck in the 800 meters as she was the national runner-up in 2:00.98. The junior from Fargo, N.D., went out fast with Natoya Goule of Louisiana State, who eventually won in 2:00.06. Still, Roesler ran the third-fastest time in school history, and the fourth fastest in Pac-12 history.

The Ducks' 20 points in the 100 and 800 were backed by a pair of third place finishes in the 400 and 5,000 meters.

Phyllis Francis became just the second Oregon woman to break :51 in the 400 meters. She placed third in 50.86 in a fast final won by Ashley Spencer in 50.28. Shaunae Miller of Georgia was second in 50.70.

"I'm happy, I scored for my team, but I felt my body tightening up near the end," said Francis, a junior from Queens, N.Y. "I felt I kept my composure, though. I didn't like my finish, but overall I'm happy."

Francis' time was the fourth fastest in Pac-12 history and second in the Oregon record books behind only Keshia Baker's 50.76.

Jordan Hasay capped the Ducks' scoring with her third place finish in the 5,000 meters.

The senior from Arroyo Grande, Calif., briefly took the lead on the bell lap to the thrill of the packed Hayward grandstands before Abbey D'Agostino defended her title in 15:43.68.

Betsy Saina of Iowa State snuck in for second in 15:50.26, with Hasay, who will officially earn her school record 18th career All-America award next week, third in 15:50.78.

"This past week has been one of the best weeks of my life," said Hasay after her final collegiate race in an Oregon singlet. "I feel blessed to experience it. It's sad that's it's the end, but I also have a lot of great memories.

"I'll race at Hayward again, just not in this uniform. There is such an amazing community supporting me and I'm just very thankful for everything."

On the men's side, Elijah Greer revved up his engine to hold off all challengers in winning his first NCAA outdoor 800 meter title. The senior from Lake Oswego, Ore., took control early and led the entire last lap as none of the other seven runners could take the lead from him.

Greer won in 1:46.58, shifting into overdrive to finish ahead of Penn State's Casmir Loxsom, who was second in 1:46.88.

"I felt pretty good," said Greer, who joined Oregon's impressive stable of 800 meter national champions like Andrew Wheating (2009-10), Joaquim Cruz (1983-84) and Wade Bell (1967). "About 300 meters into it, I was thinking, ‘Wow, is this the Championship?'

"(Loxsom) was a real competitor. I felt him kind of touch the back of my shoes at about 250 meters, so I knew he was there. With 100 meters to go, I looked at the Jumbotron and saw him right on my tail. I had to work my hardest and give it my all."

The 2013 NCAA Championships concludes on Saturday beginning with Oregon's Sam Crouser in the men's javelin at 12:30 p.m.

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