NCAA track and field day 1 recap: ASU's Cassulo is a champ

Arizona State's Chelsea Cassulo won the NCAA women's hammer throw title to highlight the first day of action at the NCAA track and field championships in Eugene. The competition continues Thursday and runs through Saturday.


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Georganne Moline provided the first highlight of the day for director Fred Harvey; the 2012 Olympic Games finalist was one of three Pac-12ers to advance to the finals of the women's 400m hurdles by posting a time of 54.89 seconds, the second-fastest prelim time in NCAA history. Interestingly enough, the second-fastest prelim time in NCAA history was only good enough for second place in her heat, as Stanford's Kori Carter took the No. 1 spot heading into Friday's finals. Meanwhile, Jennifer Bergman provided the second highlight of the day for Arizona track with her sixth-place finish in the 10K thanks to a time of 33:45.03. As such, Bergman earned three points for Arizona's team efforts.


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Things got off to a great start for the Forks, as Chelsea Cassulo won the NCAA title in the hammer throw. Sixth time turned out to be the charm for Cassulo, as the UNLV transfer claimed first place with a throw of 226-09 ft./69.12m in her final throw. Ten points for the good guys:

Meanwhile, Jordan Clarke was looking for his fifth consecutive NCAA shot put title but juuuussssssst missed out on first place by an inch and a quarter/three-hundredths of a meter to Texas' Ryan Crouser, whose only legal throw was good enough to win him the title. A heartbreaking end to the Alaskan redshirt senior's career, but his distance of 66-06.50 ft/20.28m was still good for second place in the event and eight Arizona State team points.


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Cal's 4x100-meter relay team of Julius Travis, Tom Blocker, Dash Oliver and Ray Stewart finished in seventh in its preliminary heat and is now eliminated from championship contention, while Malaina Payton finished 10th in the long jump with a jump of 20-07.00/6.27m. Fear not, Cal fan, because Ray Stewart is competin' in the 110-meter hurdles and Hammed Suleman is partakin' in the long jump tomorrow. Both of those dudes were Pac-12 champs in those events.


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The bright spot of the day for Boulder faithful came in the form of Aric VanHalen's 8:44.70 in the 3,000m steeplechase, which was good enough to get him third in his preliminary heat and qualify him for a spot in Friday's final round. He has guaranteed himself at least a second-team All-American nod as a top 12 steeplechaser. Additionally, Emily Hunsucker placed ninth in the women's hammer throw, just missing out on a podium finish.

   

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The Duck women dominated the short and intermediate distances on their home turf. Check out this laundry list of Oregon female athletes advancing to the finals of their events — 2012 NCAA 100m dash champ English Gardner, 2013 Pac-12 100m dash champ Jenna Prandini, 2013 Pac-12 400m dash champion Phyllis Francis, Laura Roesler (800 meters) and the 4x100 meter relay team, which won its heat with a blistering time of 43.73 seconds. And how could we forget that four-sport athlete Liz Brenner? She earned herself extra javelin throws and finished in eighth (168-09 ft/51.43m). As you can see, the Ducks' women's team is ranked in the top 5 for a reason.


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Brianna Bain delivered the major talking point over Cardinal supporters' dinner tables worldwide when she finished third in the javelin throw. The sophomore chipped in six points to the Stanford effort with her throw of 176-11 ft./53.93m. Stanford's female hurdlers and sprinters had their bright spots at Historic Hayward Field as well, most notably in the form of the aforementioned Kori Carter. The junior now owns the fastest 400m hurdles preliminary time at 54.67 seconds. Also joining her in NCAA finals will be Justine Fedronic and Amy Weissenbach, who finished second and third in their 800m heat behind Oregon's Laura Roesler.  


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UCLA can lay claim to two more All-Americans thanks to Ida Storm and Kylie Price. Storm finished fifth in the women's hammer throw (214-05ft/65.35m), while Price placed sixth in the women's long jump (20-11.75ft/6.39m), recording her longest jump in her first attempt. Combined, Storm and Price contributed seven points to UCLA's team total for the NCAA championships.        


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Dudes. USC's male sprinters and hurdlers did most of the torch-carrying for Troy today, as Aaron Brown advanced to the finals of the 100m dash (10.05 seconds), Pac-12 400m champ Bryshon Nellum won his heat to advance in that event and 400m hurdler Reggie Wyatt topped his heat to advance to the finals of that event after posting a time of 49.23 seconds, the fastest time in the preliminary stage today. Not to be forgotten, the USC women's 4x100m relay team finished third in its semifinal heat (44.57 seconds) to advance to the finals and earn All-American status.


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I'm not sure I could ever run 10,000 meters uninterrupted (that sounds like death to me), but Megan Goethals is in far better shape than I and evidently faster at that distance than all but three in the NCAA women's ranks. Goethals finished fourth with a time of 33:40.85 to give the Dawgs five points in the event. She's not quite done yet, either:

On the men's side, Jeremy Taiwo holds a super-duper slim edge in the decathlon, leading Duke's Curtis Beach by six points through five events. The major contributing factor here was Taiwo's first-place finish in the high jump among the 24 decathletes (7-01.5ft/2.17m; he set a world record in the heptathlon high jump this past indoor season).  

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Washington State senior Shawna Fermin will most likely finish up her career as a second-team All-American after she finished 13th in the 400m semifinals with a season-best time of 52.76 seconds. She now plans to race in the Trinidad and Tobago national championships (she has dual citizenship). Click the link text for complete results of Wednesday's action in Eugene.

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