U.S. Olympic Trials: 17 current, former Pac-12 athletes headed to Rio
EUGENE, Ore. – 17 current or former Pac-12 track and field athletes have punched their tickets to the 2016 Olympic Games over the past 10 days. Seven of those qualifications happened in the final two days of competition.
Washington State alum Bernard Lagat proved that age is just a number on Saturday. At 41 years old, many expected his career to be fading. However, after winning the United State Olympic Trials 5,000m in 13:35.50, he proved them wrong.
“All I had to do was concentrate, be patient, and wait until there was 100 meters to go,” says Lagat. He did just that and gave the nearly 23,000 fans in attendance quite the show as he kicked down the leader. Lagat’s last lap was clocked at 52.82 seconds.
While a Cougar, Lagat was a three-time Pac-10 champion, 11-time All-American and three-time NCAA Champion. In 1999, he was named the Pac-10 Men’s Track & Field Co-Athlete of the Year.
Current Oregon Duck Devon Allen also gave the crowds what they wanted. The dual sport star ran a lifetime best 13.03 in the men’s 110m hurdles to win the meet and earn a spot on the United States team.
Allen, also a member of the Oregon football team, was injured during the 2015 Rose Bowl game. He was determined to come back from his injury better than ever. After earning a spot on one of the world's most competitive teams, it seems safe to say that he has done just that.
In Sunday's action, Arizona State alumna Shelby Houlihan ran 15:06.14 in the women’s 5000m to finish second and earn her spot on the Olympic team.
While a Sun Devil, Houlihan was a seven-time All-Academic honoree and 12-time All-American. She also set four school records for the Sun Devils in the 800m, 1500m, mile and 3000m. She now lives and trains in Portland, Oregon with the Bowerman Track Club.
Another Pac-12 alumna was crowned a champion in the women’s 1,500m. Colorado’s Jenny Simpson won the meet in 4:04.74 to earn a spot on her third Olympic team.
While a Buff, Simpson was a seven-time All-American and four-time NCAA Champion. Simpson also set four collegiate records in the indoor mile, 1500m, 3000m and 5000m.
The men’s side of the event also saw a Pac-12 alum crowned champion. Oregon’s Matthew Centrowitz won the event and set a new Olympic Trials record, running 3:34.09 over 1500m. This is his second Olympic team.
As a Duck, Centrowitz was a three-time Pac-12 Champion, seven-time All-American and the NCAA Champion in the 1500m. He also set two school records in the 1500m and indoor distance medley relay.
Perhaps where Pac-12 athletes shined brightest was in the women’s 200m. Half of the athletes who made up the final field hail from Pac-12 schools: Allyson Felix (USC), Ariana Washington (Oregon), Deajah Stevens (Oregon), and Jenna Prandini (Oregon). Of those four women, two are now Olympians.
Oregon Ducks Deajah Stevens and Jenna Prandini finished in second and third places, respectively, to earn their Olympic berth. Stevens ran 22.30 seconds and Prandini ran 22.53 seconds over the distance. Prandini earned her spot by just .01 seconds, dipping over the line just before USC alumna and defending Olympic 200m champion Allyson Felix.
Here's a full list of Pac-12 athletes and what you can watch them compete in at the 2016 Olympic Games:
Inika McPherson (California), Women’s High Jump
Allyson Felix (USC), Women’s 400m
Phyllis Francis (Oregon), Women’s 400m
Ashton Eaton (Oregon), Decathlon
Jeremy Taiwo (Washington), Decathlon
English Gardner (Oregon), Women’s 100m
Cyrus Hostetler (Oregon), Men’s Javelin
Sam Crouser (Oregon), Men’s Javelin
Conor McCullough (USC), Men’s Hammer*
Emma Coburn (Colorado), Women’s 3000m Steeplechase
Bernard Lagat (Washington State), Men’s 5000m
Devon Allen (Oregon), Men’s 110m Hurdles
Dalilah Muhammad (USC), Women's 400m Hurdles
Shelby Houlihan (ASU), Women’s 5000m
Jenny Simpson (Colorado), Women’s 1500m
Jenna Prandini (Oregon), Women’s 200m
Deajah Stevens (Oregon), Women’s 200m
Matthew Centrowitz (Oregon), Men’s 1500m
#BackThePac has never been so strong.
*Though Conor McCullough qualified for the Olympic Games by place, he does not have the Olympic “A” standard needed to compete. However, the field is not yet full with athletes who have achieved it, so it is likely he will still be invited to compete.