Oregon men bring home outdoor T&F title

EUGENE — The Oregon men's track and field team brought home the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship in front of a packed home crowd at Hayward Field on Saturday afternoon, it's first since 1984.

The men easily ran away with the title, outscoring second place Florida, 88-70. The Oregon women scored 59 points and finished third behind National Champions Texas A&M and Texas.

With the victory, the men completed a sweep of both the indoor and outdoor track and field titles for the first time in program history.

Both the men and women came into Saturday's finale with leads, although the men were favored to hang on to their lead through the finish.

Sprinter Devon Allen, fresh off of dominant performance in the Oregon football Spring Game last month, sealed the championship by winning the 110 meter hurdles with a time of 13.16, the second fastest collegiate time ever recorded. The freshman jubilantly fist pumped into the turn after crossing the finish line with a raucous crowd behind him celebrating.

"I tried to show no emotion, but I had to," Allen said. "I was just really excited to win and to score some points for my team."

Moments before, junior Sam Crouser set Allen and the Ducks up for the clinching race with a victory in the javelin. Battling a sore knee, Crouser mustered enough strength to overtake Kentucky junior Raymond Dykstra with a 76.98 meter throw and all but guarantee the title for the Ducks.

As Allen narrowly edged out USC senior Aleec Harris, Crouser, who was watching from the awards podium, greeted the jubilant freshman with a big hug.

"There was so much energy, you could just feel the crowd getting into it and you can feel all the hard work is just paying off," Crouser said. "Everyone is doing so well at the end and reaping the rewards a little bit."

Oregon seized momentum early on when senior Mac Fleet, racing for the the final time in an Oregon uniform, beat Friday night's 5,000 meter champion, Arizona senior Lawi Lalang, in the 1500 meter run. Lalang had control of the race until Fleet kicked inside the 100 meter mark and the two battled neck and neck to the finish line. Fleet won by .04 seconds, sending the Hayward crowd into an early frenzy that carried over to the Crouser and Allen victories.

"I felt like this was exactly how the story was supposed to end," Fleet said of his last race. "I'm pretty realistic with myself, and I would've been pretty heartbroken."

Florida battled to stay in the competition behind Marquis Dendy's splendid day in the triple jump and Dedric Dukes performance on the track. Dendy won the triple jump with a 17.05 meter mark while Dukes won the 200 meter dash and was a part of the 4x100 meter relay team that placed first and the 4x400 meter relay team that placed second.

But the Ducks were too much to overcome, especially with smaller contributions from juniors Arthur Delaney and Tanguy Pepiot. Delaney picked up two points in the 200 meter dash after placing seventh and Pepoit picked up three points with a sixth place finish in the 3000 meter steeplechase.

Stating that his goal was to make it mathematically impossible for Florida to catch up, UO head coach Robert Johnson spoke proudly about his three individual champions that helped the team accomplish their goal.

"In an amount of about an hour we had three national champions with Crouser, Fleet, and Allen," UO head coach Robert Johnson said. "Devon [Allen] is a super competitor and Crouser there on his last throw has a flair for the dramatic. Then, of course the golden boy Mac Fleet did an awesome job there just biding his time."

Meanwhile, the women fought hard but were unable to overcome the numerous scoring opportunities for Texas A&M. The Ducks held a two point edge over the Aggies headed into Saturday, but that was quickly erased when the Aggies won the 4x100 meter relay with a time of 42.80.

From there, the Aggies built on their lead by getting key points with a second place finish in the 4x400 meter relay and placing two of the top three in the 200 meter dash, where junior Kamaria Brown narrowly beat Oregon sophomore Jenna Prandini by .007 seconds.

The strong showing by Prandini as well as a third place finish in the 4x400 meter relay were a couple of the bright moments on the day for the women, as was freshman Brittany Mann's seventh place finish in the shot put.

"We tried to do something a little bit different with running Christian Brennan on the first leg," Johnson said of the 4x400. "It didn't quite turn out in our favor there but good job by them at least hanging in there to get third."

Other Oregon notes:

Freshman Sam Prakel finished 10th in the men's 1500 meter run.

Senior Sarah Penney finished 10th in the women's 1500 meter run.

Freshman Fride Berge finished 15th in the 5000 meter run.

Junior Lauren Crockett finished 14th in the high jump.

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