Ducks First Time Ever

Oregon pulled a first ever in the multi-events by both the men and women finishing first and second at the Pac-10 championships. Junior Ashton Eaton won his second Pac-10 Decathlon title (8091 points) and sophomore Brianne Thiesen won her first Heptathlon title (personal record 5986 points). Both marks are national leaders.

Eaton won the each of the five events the first day and ran away to the first day lead with a personal record (pr) 4309 points. After only a full month of training due to a strained groin that happened just before the NCAA indoor meet he is showing a lot of consistency with his first day marks. He ran a 2.6 meter/second (m/s) wind-aided (w) 10.49 for 100 meters, 24-5 long jump, 41-5 ¼ shot put, 6-7 high jump and ran 47.12 over 400 meters with no prs but close to bests in all events. He broke his first day record that he set at the Oregon Relays (4258). All five of the other Duck contestants had first day prs. Junior Aaron McVein was 2nd all the way through the first day and finished at 3784 points. He had a 58 point pr with 11.01 w 2.6 m/s for 100 meters, 22-2 ½ long jump , and 51.05 for 400 meters were personal bests. Junior Marshall Ackley started in third with a pr of 11.03 and dropped a position in the long jump and shot put. He finished with a 173-point pr at 3636 points (previous pr at the Oregon relays). He had additional prs with 21-10 in the long jump, 38-9 in the shot put, and 48.65 in the 400 meters. He was behind freshman Jeremy Taiwo of Washington in third at 3730 points and Kyle Mills-Bunje of California at 3641.

The women were literally off to a fast start. Thiesen and senior Kalindra McFadden both broke 14 seconds for 100 hurdles for the first time at 13.86 and 13.95 (w 3.1 m/s). Nia Ali of USC was the fastest at 13.56. Thiesen closed the lead (1957 to 1951 points) with a win in the high jump at 5-10 and McFadden was in fifth at 1791 after clearing 5-5 ¼. Ali won the shot put at 42-4 ¾ and McFadden set a heptathlon pr for second at 41-10. Thiesen set a pr at 39-0 ¼ but dropped to a 2679 to 2605 deficit. McFadden was now in third at 2502 points. Thiesen received a heavy supporting wind at 4.9 m/s (even over the Heptathlon allowable 4.0 m/s) and ran her fastest time ever at 24.02. Ali only ran 25.04 and Thiesen was in the lead with 3584 points to 3562 for Ali. McFadden broke 25 seconds for the first time at 24.62 and was third in the event. She started to make separation from the rest of the competition and was in third with 3424 points ahead of freshman Ryann Krais of UCLA at 3387 points. Erin Funkhouser had prs in two events (5-1 ¾ in the high jump and 26.45 for 200 meters) and was in eleventh at 2696 points.

The second day started well with Eaton and Ackley getting decathlon prs in the 110 hurdles at 14.01 and 14.95 as Eaton won his sixth (and last) event and had 5282 points, Ackley moved into third at 4492 points to 4594 for Taiwo as he ran the second best time at 14.88. McVein ran 17.42 for a pr but dropped to fourth at 4365 points and Mills-Bunje was fifth with 4360 points. Eaton threw a near pr in the Discus Throw with a best of 130-7 second only to freshman Sean Harris of Washington State (147-9). Taiwo barely passed Ackley again at 125-8 to 124-11 (almost seven foot pr for Ackley). Ackley was now down 5224 to 5117 for second. McVein threw a pr 127-2 for third and stayed in fourth overall with 5005 to 4964 for Mills-Bunje. Eaton vaulted close to his pr for second at 15-11 (6807 through eight events) to 16-6 ¾ for Stanford's Corey Dysick. Dysick, who started the day in ninth was now fifth with 5564 points and McVein, in his third Decathlon (all from this year), had dropped to seventh at 5501 points behind Chris McGovern of Arizona at 5558. Ackley cleared a Decathlon pr 15-3 to move into second at 5921 to 5912 for Taiwo who in his first year of vaulting cleared 13-11 ¼.

Ackley knew he was probably better at the 1500 meters than Taiwo who had never completed a full Decathlon. He would have been worried that Taiwo, a superior shot putter, was likely a better 1500-meter runner. Taiwo beat Ackley by just two inches (176-2 to 176-0) as Ackley had a 13-½ pr and Ackley now was leading 6564 to 6556. Eaton had an average throw at 163-0 (7391 points through nine events) and he had won the competition without completing the last event. McVein threw a pr 161-1 and was in seventh with 6076 points and Trent Perez of UCLA had 6002 in eighth. McGovern had 6176 in sixth and Dysick had 6242 in fifth. Ackley had to be within 1.1 seconds of Taiwo in the 1500 to get second. Ackley had just pr'd at the Oregon relays in the 1500 by beating one of the pac-10s top decathlon 1500 meter runners, Ashton Eaton. Perez won the race in 4:20.72 and McVein ran a near pr 4:55.09 and dropped into eighth at 6664 (163 point pr). Ackley and Eaton took the pace out and Taiwo joined them. Taiwo took off with 500 to go by Ackley out-ran Taiwo 4:25.64 to 4:30.25 as Ackley got another pr for a 7337 final score (404 point pr) ahead of Taiwo at 7299. Steele said afterward, "I was stressed out like everybody else." Eaton said of Ackley's performance, "this kid's tough." Eaton relaxed and ran 4:36.87 (pr is 16 seconds faster). He will have heavy duty next weekend during individual events of the pac-10 meet and still had a near pr (8122) performance. As Steele said later, "clearly for him (Eaton) it's about his teammates."

Thiesen and McFadden had both had huge first days. Thiesen seemed to cool off and was nearly a foot off her individual best in the long jump but just off her heptathlon best with a 19-4 ¾w jump just ahead of Ali's 19-3 for fourth and fifth (4406 to 4372 over five events). McFadden jumped a near pr 18-8 ¾ and had 4186 points for third ahead of 4131 for Krais. Funkhouser had another pr with an 18-0 jump and moved into tenth with 3393 points and the last scoring position, eighth was still a fair distance away with Liz Fuller of Washington at 3629 points with two events to go. Thiesen had another off event with a best of 133-8 in the javelin throw, much better than Ali's 128-9 and now had a solid lead of 5087 to 5025 with one of her best events to come. McFadden had a nearly six foot pr with a throw of 134-3 and had a solid lead of 4871 to 4713 with McFadden as the top seed in the last event, the 800 meters. Funkhouser threw 119-11 and Fuller threw 113-7 and now Funkhouser was behind by 199 points and still in 10th. Luckily Erin is one of the better 800-meter runners and each second difference is worth about 13 points. Neither Fuller nor ninth-place Angela Jensen of Washington State is very good at the 800. McFadden won the 800 meters with a pr 2:13.82, Ducks Thiesen (pr 2:14.57) and Erin Funkhouser (pr 2:15.43) were close with Krais (2:14.96) running with them. McFadden knew she needed a big time to hopefully close the gap with Ali and at the end, "I just gave it everything I had." Jensen (2:28.63), Ali (2:33.01), and Fuller (2:33.39) were so far back that Thiesen won in a pr and collegiate leading 5986 point (221 point pr) score, McFadden leapfrogged Ali into second with a 198 point pr of 5780 and Funkhouser leapt into eighth with a 23-point pr 4881 points. The women's performances inspired Eaton, "that's what got me fired up."

Both teams had gone 1-2-8 for 19 points and the early Pac-10 leads. Steele said afterward, "I am very proud of these athletes, they all stepped up." As for next week during the individual events McFadden said, "we just want to scrap together as many points as possible for the team." With 19 for the men and the women they have given an great start for the rest of the team to hopefully win both team titles.

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