Mike Morrison Finishes as NCAA Runner-Up in Decathlon
June 11, 2010
EUGENE, Ore. - With a surge in the final three events, California junior Mike Morrison vaulted into second place in the decathlon, while junior Steve Sodaro earned All-America honors with a sixth-place finish in the 3000-meter steeplechase on the third day of the NCAA Track & Field Championships Friday at Oregon's Hayward Field.
Morrison, who entered the day in the fifth position, posted Cal PRs in each of his final four events to move up the leader board. His finish was the highest for a Golden Bear in the decathlon since Bevan Hart captured the title in 2000.
Oregon's Ashton Eaton secured his third consecutive NCAA decathlon championship with 8,457 points, with Morrison second in 7,801 and Texas A&M's Trinity Otto third in 7,724. Otto entered the day in second place with 4,254 points, 243 ahead of Morrison. But Morrison outscored Otto by 315 over the final three events to overtake him for the runner-up spot.
'Considering where he was about six weeks ago, he's come back from the dead,' director of track & field Tony Sandoval said, referring to a sprained ankle that limited Morrison's training for about three weeks. 'There were a couple of key events for him. He did a very good job in the pole vault and he threw over 190 feet in the javelin. He then had to run a very good 1500. What a great job.'
Morrison began the day by winning his three-man section in the 110-meter hurdles in 14.93 seconds, which was ninth overall among the competitors. The time was just 0.01 seconds off his season best in the event. In the discus, Morrison unleashed a Cal PR on his first attempt, achieving a mark of 130-4.
Morrison gave notice that he intended to rise in the standings in the third event of the afternoon - the pole vault. He tied for first in the field with a Cal PR 16-0.75, well above his previous best of 15-1.00. The effort was worth 880 points and put him in third place with two events to go.
In the vault, Morrison didn't enter the competition until the bar reached 15-1, which he cleared on his first attempt. After passing on 15-5, he vaulted 15-9 on his third try and 16-0.75 on his second attempt. Other than Eaton and Morrison, no one else among the top nine at the time posted a height above 15-1.
Morrison finished off with two more Cal PRs in the javelin and 1500 meters. In the javelin, he threw 193-2, easily breaking his previous long of 184-6 from the Pac-10 Championships. And in the 1500, he crossed the line in 4:41.39, a seven-second improvement at the distance.
Morrison's total is just two points shy of his career best set while he was a sophomore at Florida before transferring to Cal. The mark also moves him up to fourth on Cal's all-time performers list behind only Chris Huffins (8,007, 1993), Hart (8,002, 2000) and Ross Bomben (7,808, 1998).
Sodaro was the first Bear to put points on the board for Cal when he finished sixth in the 3000-meter steeplechase in 8:44.06 just before the decathlon concluded. He became the first Cal male to score at the NCAA meet in a running event since Belota Asmerom was second in the 5000 meters in 2001, while he is the first Bear to place in the steeplechase since Bob Price was fifth in the event in 1967.
Sodaro concluded a breakout season, which included a Pac-10 championship in the steeplechase, a sub-four-minute mile at the Brutus Hamilton Invitational and all-region honors in cross country during the fall.
Sophomore Deborah Maier, the final Cal runner to compete Friday, finished just out of the scoring when she took ninth in 16:07.20. The time was an outdoor PR, eight seconds faster than the time she ran at the Pac-10 Championships in May, and was good enough to earn her All-America honors.
Maier's time was the third fastest outdoor performance in school history. Her PR of 15:58.49 was set during the 2010 indoor season.
The Bears have one final competitor who will compete on Saturday, the final day of the NCAA Championships. Senior Mark Matusak will be in the 1500-meter final, seeking All-America status for the first time in the event. Fans can follow all the action online either through live results or live video streaming.
NCAA Track & Field Championships
Hayward Field, Eugene, Ore.
3000-meter Steeplechase - 6. Steve Sodaro 8:44.06
110-meter hurdles - 9. Mike Morrison 14.93 (858 points)
Discus - 7. Mike Morrison 130-4 (39.73m) (659 points)
Pole Vault - 1. Mike Morrison 16-0.75 (4.90m) (880 points)
Javelin - 4. Mike Morrison 193-2 (58.87m) (721 points)
1500 meters - 13. Mike Morrison 4:41.39 (672 points)
Final total - 2. Mike Morrison 7,801 points
5000 meters - 9. Deborah Maier 16:07.20