Young Ducks Fight Hard at NCAA Indoor

A lot of good came out of the NCAA indoor meet last weekend (ending Mar. 15th) at Fayetteville, Ark. The young Ducks showed their competitive spirit and went for wins rather than places. Sophomore AJ Acosta was the most able to stay near the front of his race and was the most successful of the Ducks with his third place finish in the mile.

The competition started with second seeded Ashton Eaton's first day of the heptathlon. Eaton started well with a 6.93 in the 60 (personal record 6.83 in heptathlon and –37 points) that put him into second overall behind Jangy Addy of Tennessee (third seeded and third at last year's outdoor championships). The Oregon state long jump and sprint champ jumped 23-10 ¾, a good mark for him (superior to heptathlon pr mark and +15 points). It did put him into first with 1788 points. In second was Kansas State's Rok Derzanic (sixth seeded) by 46 points, third was Mountain Pacific champion Stanford's Josh Hustedt (fifth seeded) at 1738, and sixth seeded Gonzalo Barroilhet of Florida State at 1731.

Things went awry in the shot put. Eaton had two fouls and had to get a safe throw of 35-8, worst among the sixteen competitors and short of his heptathlon performance of 39-5 ¾ (-70 points and 92 points short of his school record heptathlon pace). A mark equal to his early season mark would have left him in third, now he was at 2326 and in seventh (first was Addy at 2562) and unlikely to win but Matt Clark of Northern Iowa was in third at 2362, within range for the competition. The last event of the day was the men's high jump, an event that Eaton had made great strides in with his 6-8 3/4 clearance during his school record. His first two heights he made on the first attempt (final clearance 6-0 ½ - 661 points) but could not clear 6-1 ½ (-189 points and short 281 points) and fell to 12th overall at 2987 behind Barroilhet at 3265. Eaton was in now in danger of not placing in the top eight (eighth was Mat Clark of Northern Iowa at 3102). The lack of experience (his first multi-event competition was in college) in the high jump, shot put and decathlon was now coming to light. He would have overnight to get himself together and make a push to move up in the standings.

Sophomore Keshia Baker was up next in the 400 meters. Baker was second in the first heat at 53.79, her second best time ever (behind her indoor school record 53.52). She finished second to the fastest preliminary winner time of Krista Simkins of Miami (51.95). There were five heats and only three time qualifiers in addition to the five winners. The second and third heats had two time qualifiers ahead of her. Keshia finished 11th overall, .18 behind the final qualifier Senior Kenyata Coleman of Mississippi State.

Acosta stayed right behind the two-time NCAA champ Lyle Manzano of Texas and Micky Cobrin of Arkansas in the first heat. When it came time to kick he moved past Micky and stayed in second to qualify for the final in 4:05.45 to 4:05.42 of Manzano. Mike McGrath was in the same heat but was in fourth with 200 meters to go and couldn't stay in that position. He finished sixth at in the heat (4:06.61) and did not advance to the final (11th overall).

Alexandra Kosinski ran in the second heat of the women's two mile. She had to finish in the top three or be one of four time time qualifiers in her own heat faster than 4:42.77. Smartly, she ran near the front, just behind Katie Follett of Washington. At 600 meters she had dropped into fourth but by 800 meters was back into second and fought to stay there until she was just passed by Nicole Edwards of Michigan and was pushed back to fourth while Amanda Miller just trailed her teammate. With 400 hundred meters to go Ann Detmer of Wisconsin and then Akilah Vargas of Villanova passed Alexandra and she finished in sixth at 4:44.21 and did not qualify for the final. She finished 12th overall.

Less than 2 ½ hours after the open mile preliminaries, Mike McGrath would come back to help the distance medley relay. For the opening 1200 meter leg he ran 2:58.57, off his 2:56 split from the US championships. That put the Ducks in eighth. Sophomore Chad Barlow ran the seventh fastest 400 leg (47.13) but was passed by LSU's Sophomore Armanti Hayes (46.27) who ran the third fastest leg. Andrew Wheating continued his emergence and moved the Ducks into third, passing six teams. His split of 1:47.95 was faster than anyone else by 1.05 seconds. Matt Centrowitz replaced Acosta on the relay and ran a good mile at 4:03.16 but was passed by six teams and Oregon finished ninth in 9:36.80.

The last event of the day and less than 2 ½ hours after the women's mile Alexandra Kosinski ran the opening 1200 meters for the Distance Medley relay. Things did not go well and she ran 3:37.27 (10 seconds slower than the school record performance) for 12th place, almost six seconds behind last place Pennsylvania. Keshia Baker ran the sixth fastest 400 but Oregon did not move closer than six seconds behind Minnesota. Sophomore Zoe Buckman ran 2:06.12 for the third fastest 800 and moved the team to within 2.5 seconds of last place Wisconsin. Nicole Blood took the baton for the last place Ducks and ran close to a pr with a time of 4:44.15 (eighth fastest). That moved Oregon into ninth.

Ashton Eaton had a chance on Saturday to make up for the bad finish on Friday. He started the day with a .01 pr in the 60 meter hurdles (7.96 +3 points, -278 overall), second fastest of the day behind Addy's 7.86. Barroilhet was still in first overall at 4252 and Eaton had moved to eighth from twelfth with 3979 points and just 55 points from sixth place Derzanic. Eaton continued his success and vaulted 15-7, an eight inch pr (+59, -219 overall). Eaton moved up one spot to seventh, 4813, behind the prohibitive favorite with event to go, Barroilhet at 5178. Eaton ran the 1,000 meters in 2:40.90, a pr of more than three seconds (+36 points, -183), for 863 and a total of 5676. He passed Cepeda for sixth and Barroilhet won at 5951.

The men's mile run was next. Acosta was the top seed but was facing now three time NCAA champion Manzano (a third in previous night's DMR). Acosta took the lead and lead ahead of Manzano and his teammate Jake Morse for the first lap. Manzano moved to the front for the second lap with Acosta just behind and Morse slightly behind. Morse passed Acosta with 200 meters to go and Acosta finished in third at 4:04.90 with a 57.60 final lap.

The women's pole vault was going through the height progressions as the mile was contested. Freshman sensation pole vaulter Melissa Gergel continued her consistent vaulting and cleared 4.10, 13-5 ¼ on her first attempt. She tied with two others at eighth place for 1/3 point, tying with last year's high school record setting Tori Anthony of UCLA.

In the women's 3,000 meters Nicole Blood went to get an NCAA title or high place. For the first kilometer she was in fourth in the lead pack with Susan Kuiken of Florida State, Brie Felnagle of North Carolina, and list leader Ariana Lambie of Stanford. By 2k she was six seconds off the pace but still in fourth. She had trouble finishing after running a 4:44 mile the night before and finished in 14th at 9:38.04.

In the second heat of the men's 4x400 meter relay the Oregon men had another chance to score well. Ashton Eaton came back after the heptathlon had finished and ran a half-second pr in 47.64 for the opening leg and the team was in fourth among four teams. Chad Barlow ran a great leg in 46.24 and the team was still in fourth, but compared to the previous heat of three teams and the next heat of four teams, had the fourth best time. The third leg by Phil Alexander of 46.93 put the team into second in this heat and third overall. Marcus Dillon ran 47.08 for the anchor and Oregon finished second in the heat and seventh overall at 3:07.89.

The men scored 11 points for =19th in the team standings and the women finished with 1/3 of a point. This meet was not as successful as the team would have hoped but there is not an emphasis on this meet. The team succeeded in its goal of gaining experience to make a run at the outdoor postseason meets.

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