Stiegeler and Hartmann Pace Duck Track Teams at NCAA Track Opener

May 31, 2001

EUGENE - The University of Oregon men=s and women=s track and field teams opened action at the NCAA Track and Field Championships with one NCAA title, another third-place individual finish, and the Duck men leading the team race with 16 points. USC and Notre Dame followed in second in the men=s contest, while Idaho and Arizona are tied atop the women=s scoreboard with 10 points.

Individually for the Duck men, redshirt sophomore John Stiegeler verified his top seed status with a 13-foot win in the javelin (252-10, 77.07m), edging UTEP=s Vesa Jappinen (second, 239-7) and Tulane=s Nathan Junius (third, 233-11).

Stiegeler=s best mark on his second throw was sandwiched between fouls on the first and third throws. After more than an hour wait for the ensuing second flight to finish, the delay before the final appeared to effect his other third (228-10) and fourth (231-2) throws, followed by a foul on his final effort.

'I felt good with my performance today, and I that at the end, I still had a lot more left in me,' Stiegeler said. 'I really brought it today and threw some heat up there. You always have to start off with a good throw, because that means that everyone else is left to chase you.'

Overall, the Coos Bay, Ore., native=s winning throw was a personal best by more than seven feet B after a previous best of 245-9 from April B and broke the previous Oregon school record of Art Skipper (251-8) set in 1992. The Stiegeler-Skipper connection continued with Stiegeler winning Oregon=s first NCAA title since Skipper=s victory in 1992 (248-7) B Oregon=s seventh in the event and 47th overall.

'The win in the javelin is very important to help build up the program,' Stiegeler said. 'You are seeing a program that is coming back on the rise. We have a lot of guys that are excited and working hard. Our coaching staff has done a good job of recruiting.'

Wednesday= honor proved a fitting finale for a collegiate season that featured six meets past the 240-foot mark, a Pac-10 title in May (240-10), and a likely top-five seeding for the USA Championships scheduled for Eugene, June 21-24.

The Oregon scoring cause also benefitted from another NCAA debut, this time by redshirt freshman Jason Hartmann who improved from a seventh-place pre-meet seeding to take third (29:28.97), trailing a pair of seniors B Notre Dame=s Ryan Shay (first, 29:05.44) and Arkansas= Murray Link (second, 29:25.75).

Hartmann=s first All-America honor on the track gave him the third of his career for the Ducks after cross country distinctions in 2000 (35th) and 1999 (37th). On the NCAA oval, his third-place honor in the 25-lap event was the second-highest ever by a Duck B matching Alberto Salazar=s finish in 1979 (third, 28:06.12) and just off of Mark McMonigal=s effort in 1986 (second, 29:22.71).

'Today was very miportant because we set the tone for the other guys on the team,' Hartmann said. 'Now they know what they have to do tomorrow.'

For his first race at the collegiate track finale, Hartmann ran a smart race tactically, biding his time in the lead pack for the first half of the race before Shay and Link pushed ahead just before the midway point. Shay led the race virtually the whole race, except for the two laps leading into the fourth mile. The Irish three-time 10K scorer then retook the lead to open the fourth mile and eventually eased to a comfortable victory. Hartmann relied on a strong final kick in the final lap to hold off Alabama=s Christopher Mutai (third, 29:30.30), Dartmouth=s Tom McArdle (fourth, 29:30.30) and Arizona State=s Fasil Bizuneh (29:33.18).

'I didn't think I could get third, but I got to the last lap, and it was a great feeling,' Hartmann said. 'I didn't want to get in over my head, but I thought it was the perfect situation to stay right there until the last lap.'

In other final-event action for the men=s team, freshman pole-vaulter Trevor Woods failed to clear the opening height of 16-10 3/4 (5.15m). USC senior Dennis Kholev won the event with a two-inch personal best (18-6 1/2, 5.65m) over BYU=s Jeff Hansen (second, 18-2 1/2) B the only competitors to clear 18 feet.

The Ducks look to continue their scoring tomorrow after personal-best first-day decathlon scores by juniors Santiago Lorenzo and Billy Pappas who rank second and ninth overall at the halfway point with point totals of 3,991 and 3,794 points, respectively.

Lorenzo had first day marks of 11.03 (100), 23-2 (long jump), 40-3 1/2 (shot put), 6-3 1/4 (high jump) and 48.27 (400). Pappas had marks of 11.20 (100), 23-2 3/4 (long jump), 45-1 3/4 (shot put), 6-2 (high jump) and 50.72 (400) B his long jump, 400 and shot put marks were personal bests, and his 100 mark was only .03 seconds short of equal merit.

'I didn't start out great, but I came back in the 400,' Lorenzo said. 'Today the fans pushed me through the 400, and that is why I did as well as I did.'

'I felt pretty good, but it could be better,' Pappas said. 'I'm glad that I'm putting together a decent meet at this level of competition. I don't think I scored many points compared to the others, but my second day is usually pretty good. I'm looking forward to it.'

Overall in the decathlon, Tennessee=s Stephen Harris leads the competition (4,245) over Lorenzo (second, 3,991), Rice=s Ryan Harlan (third, 3,927), Lyndon McDowell (fourth, 3,895), Oklahoma=s Justin Conlkin (fifth, 3,877) and Georgia=s David Lemen (sixth, 3,864). LSU=s Claston Bernard, the overwhelming favorite, pulled up with a hamstring injury at the end of the opening event, the 100. After failing to appear at the start of the subsequent event, the long jump, judges ruled that he had to withdraw from the meet, and a subsequent protest of LSU coaches was denied.

Among other day one highlights across the track, Tennessee Justin Gatlin sped to a 200-meter qualifying-leading 19.86 (w:+4.0) to win his heat, with teammate Leonard Scott the second-round winner and third-fastest of the day. The Volunteers came back to lead qualifying action in the 4x100 relay (first, 38.66), while sprint rival TCU won the other preliminary heat in an equally impressive time (38.70).

In the 800, top seed and South Carolina sophomore Otukile Lekote (1:47.38) and Arkansas junior Dirk Heinze (1:47.69) led times from the opening three heats with their 1-2 finish in the second heat.

On the women=s side, the Ducks had only one athlete competing Wednesday B sophomore Mary Etter in the discus. The Kirkland, Wash., native finished 19th in the 21-athlete competition with a third throw of 139-2 (42.41m) after fouls on her opening two efforts.

Among the day=s two women=s finals, Idaho senior Katja Schreiber claimed the discus (197-11) handily over Colorado=s State=s Liz Toman (184-5), and Arizona junior Brianna Glenn added a five-inch win in the long jump (21-6 1/4) over Rice=s Alice Falaiye (21-1 1/4).

In qualifying action, LSU frosh Muna Lee won the opening heat of the 200 with the day=s fastest clocking (22.53), while other section winners included South Carolina=s Miki Barber (22.71), Brianna Glenn (23.00) and USC=s Kinshasa Davis (22.79).

In a related event, the 4x100 relay, LSU (43.35), Florida (43.99) and South Carolina (43.53) won their sections, while fifth-seeded UCLA was a DNF. The Bruins= misfortune continued in the 400 hurdles as top-seeded Sheena Johnson failed to advance to the final after taking sixth in her heat (59.84). Section winners included Harvard=s Brenda Taylor (56.64), Cal State Northridge=s Frances Santin (57.02) and Rice=s Allison Beckford (56.39).

In the 800, USC=s top-ranked Brigita Langerholc won her opening heat (2:05.69), with Applachian State=s Mary Jayne Harrelson (2:05.45) and UCLA=s Lena Nilsson (2:07.00) other section winners.

The women=s steeplechase made its debut at the NCAA finale as BYU sophomore Nan Evans (10:11.54) and Weber State=s Rebecca Bennion (10:11.72) won their qualifying sections.

Looking ahead to Thursday, the Ducks have another busy day with final day action in the decathlon (Lorenzo and Pappas), opening round action in the men=s 110 hurdles (Micah Harris) and the finals of the men=s high jump (Jason Boness). The next event for the Duck women is the pole vault, scheduled for a 5 pm start on Friday.

Full NCAA Championships results are available at the web site.

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