Becky Holliday and Niki McEwen Advance to Pole Vault Finals in NCAA Second Day
June 12, 2003
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - In the second day of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, the University of Oregon track and field teams featured their first pair of All-America finishers on the men's side, while it's top-five ranked women's pole vault pair advanced to Saturday's final.
On the women's side, the Duck senior pole vault duo of Becky Holliday and Niki McEwen navigated their preliminary round and each cleared the higher two of the three contested prelim heights - 13-1 1/2 and 12-9 1/2 - to advance to Saturday's 14-woman final.
After both Duck vaulters passed at the opening height of 12-3 1/2, McEwen went first of the pair and cleared her first attempts at both heights. The Newport, Ore., native was one of five vaulters to make first attempts at both heights - and three of which were from the Pac-10 - while six of the 14 competitors in Saturday's final will hail from the Conference of Champions. Holliday shook off an opening hiccup on her first try - just like her West Regional effort - to make her second try, then converted her first attempt at the subsequent 13-1 1/2 bar.
'The prelims can be more nerve-racking than the final, because it can be hard not to look past it,' Holliday said. 'I don't normally open this low so I tried to alter my opening routine accordingly, and it worked out fine. I'm looking forward to getting out there again on Saturday. I will have a lot of friends and family here, and I'm looking forward to doing my best for them and the team.'
Holliday entered the competition as the top seed thanks to a collegiate record in her West Regional win two weeks ago (14-8), while McEwen - making her seventh NCAA appearance and chasing her fourth All-America honors - is also top-four seeded after clearing an outdoor best of 13-11 1/4 in the Pepsi Team Invite in Eugene in mid-April.
'I felt pretty comfortable today,' McEwen said. 'These types of meets are getting easier and less intimidating as you get used to dealing with the hype and nerves. We also jumped here at the Olympic Trials in 2000, so that also made me more comfortable since I knew the surroundings. I felt good physically - the runway was fast and the winds weren't too bad - and I was happy with being able to convert my bars fairly easily.'
The Duck women also featured two senior field event specialists who did not advance past Thursday's prelims but capped impressive careers that feature places high on the all-time school rankings.
In her NCAA debut in the hammer, senior Jordan Sauvage tossed a daily best of 180-2 on the her third and final throw to rank 25th of the 28 entries. The North Bend, Wash., native opened with a throw of 176-1, then followed with a 175-10 second effort. Overall in the event, the Florida pair of Candice Scott and Jukina Dickerson led the prelims with marks of 222-7 and 217-1, with the top-12 finishers returning for Saturday's final.
Looking back over 2003, Sauvage's mark of 180-2 was her seventh meet past the 180-foot line, including a personal best of 191-4 from the Texas Relays that broke the previous school record (186-6) by 4 feet, 10 inches, and almost eight feet better than her preseason best of 183-9.
'I was just getting going at the end, and would have loved to have had another throw,' Sauvage said, 'but I guess that's what all throwers say. It didn't hit me until midway through the first throw that I was actually at nationals, and it threw me off a little. I would have loved to advance to the final, but big picture, I have to happy with how much I've matured. I came in as a walk-on and to end your career with your first national appearance is pretty special.'
Sauvage also was a two-time Pac-10 scorer in the event thanks to eighth- and seventh-place finishes as a junior and senior. More recently, she earned her first NCAA bid after claiming the fifth and final qualifying spot from the West Regional (183-11).
In the triple jump, Eugene native and Sheldon High School graduate Amanda Brown capped an impressive, two-year triple jump career with her first NCAA appearance and ranked 23rd of the 28 entries in the event prelim. Brown opened the breezy late-afternoon first flight with daily best of 40-1 1/2 (2.0 wind), then followed with a second leap of 39-10 1/2 and a foul on her final try. Overall, she entered the meet seed 26th after a surprise West Regional runner-up finish - seven places higher than her ninth-place pre-Regional meet seeding, while Nebraska's Ineta Radevica led Thursday's prelim field by a three-inch margin (44-9 3/4) over Minnesota's Shani Marks (second, 44-6 3/4).
'I was kind of hoping to come away with a personal best and something to really end it on a high note,' Brown said. 'However, I didn't feel at full strength - partly because I was up past midnight last night studying for a final early this morning - but that's the life of a student-athlete. To end you career competing against the nation's best is an honor and thrill. I have to thank everybody who has made this possible and so fun - it's gone by so quickly, and I can't believe it's over.'
In only her second year in the event, Brown shifted from her long-jump duty only as a freshman sophomore, and claimed a pair of sixth-place Pac-10 triple jump honors in 2003 (40-6) and 2002 (40-2 3/4). After ending with a 2002 freshman season best 40-2 3/4 from her league debut, she topped that distance in seven of 10 contests in 2003, including her first 41-foot leap of her career with a barely-windy wind reading at the inaugural West Regional finale (+2.2 meters per second). On the all-time Oregon list, she ranks fourth overall with a wind-legal best of 40-9 1/2, while the two-time Pac-10 long jump scorer owned a collegiate event best of 19-4 1/4 from April's Pepsi Team Invite that was only 3 1/2 inches shy of the Duck all-time top-10 rolls.
The Duck men got on the scoreboard with five points courtesy of redshirt juniors Jason Hartmann and Ryan Andrus in the 10,000 meters. Seeded11th and 22nd coming into the meet, the pair upset the form-chart with fourth- and 13th-place finishes and personal best times of 28:31.96 and 29:11.04 in the 10,000 meters.
Hartmann relied on similar tactics from his past two NCAA appearances, running in a 5-7 man pack contending for fourth place. As three others started their kicks earlier in the last lap, Hartmann held his surge until the final 100 meters and edged Stanford rival Ian Dobson at the line who was bare a quarter-second back (fifth, 28:32.23). Hartmann's time stood as a 20-second season best and 14-second personal best from his respective marks from the 2003 Mt. SAC Relays (28:52.03) and 2002 USA Championships (28:46.76).
'I felt really good coming and just tried to compete as smart as I could,' Hartmann said. 'Among the three NCAA races, this had to be the most rewarding because it was the best field from top to bottom. That showed in the results and the times, and it was great to be in the middle of it. I knew I had to be patient and things would unfold themselves.'
Hartmann notched his third, top-four NCAA finish in the 25-lap event and became only the second three-time Duck All-American in the track event with Alberto Salazar, and even bested the former Duck great as far as top-four finishes with Salazar (2 - sixth-1978; 1979-third; 1981-fourth). The Rockford, Mich., native Hartmann had finished third as a redshirt freshman in the event in 2001 in Eugene and fourth in 2003 in Baton Rouge.
Looking ahead, Hartmann's season may not be quite over since he is qualified in the 10,000 meters for the third straight season for the USA Championships, June 19-22 in Stanford, Calif., although he may not make his decision until next week. Last season he ranked second among collegians in the event and eighth overall, although there was a three-week break between the two meets, compared to just one week this year.
In Hartmann's wake, Andrus (13th, 29:11.04) missed the eighth and final American-based All-America honor by one place, but could still take satisfaction after improving on his pre-meet seeding by nine places.
'This was another big step for me,' Andrus said. 'Being an All-American last fall (in cross country) started the momentum in the right direction, and that strength and foundation has helped set me up for outdoors. I really enjoyed the race and I'm feeling more and more comfortable at that distance. It's not an easy race, but I really hung in there mentally, and it paid off.'
Looking back over his season, Andrus' time Thursday stood as a nearly one-second personal best that improved on his former mark of 29:12.02 from the Stanford Invitational in March. The Orem, Utah native opened the school year last fall with his first cross country All-America honor (34th), then clocked personal bests and NCAA provisional marks in the 3,000 and 5,000 of 8:01.22 and 14:06.33, respectively indoors in March and February, respectively.
Also on the track Thursday, a trio of Duck freshmen ended their individual runs but all placed higher in their respective prelims than their pre-meet seedings.
In the 110 hurdles, newcomer Eric Mitchum missed advancing to the final by only .02 seconds after finishing fifth in the second semifinal (13.89, w:+0.6) - with the second through fourth-place and automatic times all .05 seconds or less away (13.84, 13.85 and 13.87). His second semifinal featured a .30-second win by Texas A&M's Chris Pinnock (13.54), the second-fastest collegian this season coming in - while USC's Ryan Wilson won the first section (13.60) by a .08-second margin over Cincinnati's David Payne (second,13.68).
Mitchum almost took advantage of Sacramento's nine-lane track which meant one time-based qualifier for Saturday's final, besides each semifinal heat's top four finishers. However, Ohio State's Joel Brown (13.74) earned the at-large nod since he was .15 seconds faster from the first section. Mitchum could still claim top freshman honors since he was the only first-year collegian to make the semifinals, while only one sophomore ran faster Thursday (Florida's Josh Walker, first heat, third, 13.71).
'Man I was so close to the final, but that's how the event works,' Mitchum said. 'I know I hit a hurdle really hard in the middle and that didn't help. But I did my best to keep my composure and stay in the mix. This has been a big year for me, and I've learned a lot of things, and ran against a lot of great competition - the Texas Relays, the Pre, Pac-10s, Regionals and NCAAs. It will only make me better in the future.'
Mitchum ranked 12th- fastest Thursday in the prelims after entering the meet seeded 16th with his windy best of 13.73w (w:+3.8) from his runner-up Pac-10 finish. His clocking also stood as his ninth, sub-14.00 effort this year in 14 appearances, including a wind-legal season best of 13.75 from the Pac-10 prelims that ranks him second all-time for the Ducks, just behind 2002 All-American Micah Harris (13.67). Mitchum will return to the straightaway for one last race next week, and is entered in the 110 hurdles in the USA Junior Championships at Stanford (6/20-21).
In the morning prelims of the 400, freshman Matt Scherer (fifth-heat, 18th overall, 46.47) missed the final time qualifying position by only two positions and .04 seconds. The Sumner, Ill., native ranked as the second-fastest among five freshmen (including the fastest of four from the Pac-10) in the 26-person field event. Clemson's Otto Spain won Scherer's heat (45.57), while Minnesota's Mitch Potter owned the fastest time from the second heat (45.34).
Scherer could also take satisfaction with Thursday's .12-second personal best that moved him up one position to sixth all-time for the Ducks in a tie with Klaus Weigeldt. Season-wise, Scherer turned in a strong run during the championship slate with a trio of previous personal bests in the Pac-10 Champs (seventh, 46.87) and West Regional (fourth, 46.59 / first-prelims, 46.85). The Midwest transplant entered the year with a prep best from his junior season of 46.87, although his high school focus was less concentrated, and spread between 10 all-state appearances in the 100, 200, 400 and triple jump.
'I tend to do pretty well in high-pressure situations,' Scherer said. 'I knew I had to step up at Pac-10s, and that ended up being the springboard for me. I still felt it today - so I can't be disappointed with a personal best (even though I didn't advance). Coach Silvey has really helped me mature mentally at the end of the season and that was probably the biggest difference. (Having to also run) the 400 hurdles earlier in the year helped me build a strong foundation that prepared me to run faster at the end of the year. However, I have a lot to work on for next year.'
The trio of freshmen Travis Anderson, Matt Scherer and Jordan Kent and junior Brandon Holliday also returned for a 1.32-second season best in the 4x400 relay (fourth-heat, 11th overall, 3:06.73), and missed the final time qualifier (LSU, eighth, 3:05.45) by only 1.28 seconds. The Ducks - who entered the event seeded 25th and last among the entries based on season bests - also stood second-fastest of the three Pac-10 teams that competed, just behind Arizona State (ninth overall, 3:05.85).
'We knew all along that we could run this fast, and we could have even gone faster,' Holliday said. 'This is so exciting that we could place this well - for each of us individually and together and as a group. They said I ran a 46.5 split which is good, but now I wished I would have gotten down into the 45's. I tried to run my leg smart - I caught up to the Florida guy (Rickey Harris) in the opening 100 and almost tried to pass him, but then I thought better of it and realized I needed to be smart. I felt strong at the end - maybe not as fast as the guys in front of me - but I was able to maintain pretty well through the finish.'
The quartet's effort capped a strong finish as two weeks ago the group entered the West Regional seeded ninth, but claimed second overall with a then-season best of 3:08.05. Even more impressive that effort was basically a time trial as the squad ran by themselves up front from start to finish in the slower section, while the regional champion Stanford relay was less than a second faster in the faster section. After a similar scenario from the Pac-10s where Stanford ran less than a second faster in a separate, faster heat to edge Oregon in the ultimate team standings by one point, the Ducks extracted a little revenge Thursday, with the Cardinal slightly behind in 17th (3:09.24).
Looking ahead to Friday's third day action, Duck entries include field event finals for Elisa Crumley and Roslyn Lundeen (javelin), Trevor Woods (pole vault), Adam Kriz (hammer), John Stiegeler (javelin), sprinter Samie Parker (100), and Abby Andrus begins the two-day heptathlon competition.
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