Lorenzo Wins NCAA Decathlon Title

June 1, 2001

EUGENE - Junior Santiago Lorenzo won the University of Oregon men's track and field team's second NCAA title in as many days, relying on a dramatic finish in the decathlon to also help keep the Ducks in first place in the team race with 27 points, ahead of Georgia, USC and Utah State (second, 16).

The Buenos Aires, Argentina native rallied from third place going into the final event, the 1,500, and overcame a 70-point deficit behind Georgia's David Lemen (7,160 points) and Tennessee's Stephen Harris (7,871) after nine events.

Relying on his home-track advantage, Lorenzo reacted to the roar of the home crowd of 4,575 spectators as he entered the final lap, unleashed a gutty final 400 en route to a narrow second-place finish and eight-second personal best (4:21.84), behind UMKC's Grant Dennis (first, 4:20.57). Harris trailed in fourth place (4:25.78) in the event, with Lemen back in eighth place (4:48.12).

'The last two laps the fans were really cheering, and I never got tired,' Lonrezo said. 'I just wen out hard and I knew I had to run a huge time today. I was going to have to PR i the 1,500 and when I finished I looked back and knew I won.'

After an anxious moment, the dream became reality as Lorenzo's final effort sealed the overall crown by a scant eight points (7,889) over Harris (second, 7,871) who needed to stay within Lorenzo by approximately two seconds, but was almost two seconds short. Lemen followed in third place overall (7,790), while Duck junior Billy Pappas also earned a medal stand appearance with an eighth-place finish and new personal best (7,488).

'I can't think of a better thing that could have happened,' Lorenzo said. 'I wasn't even first heading into the 1,500, and I had to really work for it. It was amazing.'

Lorenzo's win marked Oregon's first-ever decathlon title, the team's first pair of national champions in the same year since 1986 (with Wednesday's javelin winner John Stiegeler), and the team's highest point total (27) since 1992 when they finished fifth with 33 points. The two-time All-American Lorenzo also climbed to fourth all-time in UO history, trailing Pedro daSilva (1992, 8,167), Muhammad Oliver (1992, 8,087) and Craig Brigham (1975, 8,027).

The steady supply of points by Lorenzo, with only one win among the 10 events (Wednesday's closer, the 400, 48.27), proved the difference. Besides his runner-up finish in the 1,500 Thursday, he ranked fourth in the pole vault (decathlon best and tied his overall best 16-0 3/4), eighth in the 110 hurdles (15.10, .04 seconds shy of a decathlon best), fourth in the discus (decathlon best 137-11) and javelin (183-5),

Looking back over his seven decathlons for the Ducks since arriving for the 1998-1999 season with a prior best of 7,306 points, he has raised his personal best in four of those collegiate contests, and has topped the 7,500-point barrier at six of them.

UO teammate Pappas was equally steady across the board both days and was rewarded with a 146-point personal best (eighth, 7,488). In Thursday's events, the Azalea, Ore., native and Lane Community College product ranked fourth in the 110 hurdles (overall personal best of 14.63), fifth in the javelin (181-4) and discus (137-10), sixth in the 1,500 (4:42.26) and ninth in the pole vault (decathlon best 14-9).

Pappas' personal best moved him to ninth all-time on the Duck decathlon list, ironically passing older brother Paul Pappas who tallied a personal best of 7,303 points in 1997. His first All-America honor for the Ducks also gave the team its first pair of scorers in the same event since another pair of decathletes - Pedro daSilva and Muhammad Oliver - notched their personal bests and UO's all-time leading marks of 8,167 and 8,060 points, respectively, at the NCAA Championships in 1992.

Among other final events, Georgia junior Andras Haklits won with a throw of 247-8 (75.50 meters) - one of only two fair throws on the day - edging Utah State senior James Parker (240-7, 73.32m). Weber State senior Charles Clinger defended his top seed status and indoor collegiate title with the win Thursday (7-6 1/2), earning the nod over Utah State senior Dave Hoffman (second, 7-6 1/2) on fewer misses. Ole Miss senior Savante Stringfellow won the long jump by 3 1/2 inches (27-1 3/4) over LSU junior Walter Davis (26-10 1/2).

In the high jump, Duck junior Jason Boness exactly equaled his pre-meet seeding with a 13th-place finish (6-11 3/4) among the 20-jumper field. The Casper, Wyo., native and three-time All-American finished the season with a season best of 7-3 that netted Pac-10 runner-up honors almost two weeks ago, while he claimed marks of seven feet or better at eight of 10 appearances outdoors in 2001.

'I let the team down today,' Boness aid, 'and that's what I'm most disappointed about. It was home, but it didn't feel like home. It's been a long year and I haven't been able to gain confidence. I need to collect myself ... need to rest ... and get ready for my last outdoor season (next year).'

Junior Micah Harris successfully passed his first test for more potential Duck points in Thursday's preliminary round of the 110 hurdles. Harris finished sixth in his heat in a school record of 13.73, grabbing the first of seven spots based on qualifying times. Overall he ranked 12th among the 19 entrants, and his time was a .06-second improvement over his previous best of 13.79 from his win at the Texas Invitational in May's opening week - a mark that matched Bob Gray's school record from 1991.

'I felt really comfortable in the beginning of the race,' Harris said. 'I felt strong, and towards the last three hurdles I felt like I could keep going. I just had to remember to do the little things and focus on what I did to get here. I did that, and it got me in the semifinals.'

Looking ahead, Harris advanced to Friday's semifinal round, with the top four finishers in his second section advancing to Saturday's final.

'I just wanted to do my best,' Harris said. 'My coach told me to remember the little things..It's always good to get the first out of the way, and it was nice in front of the home crowd. I just tried to remember all the things I learned that got me here.'

In other men's qualifying action, 400-meter prelim winners included Florida's Geno White (45.96), LSU's Alleyne Francique (45.43) and Auburn's Avard Moncur (45.06). Moncur came back to help Auburn to a section win the 4x400 prelim (3:02.30) with LSU first in the other (3:01.66). Arkansas' Daniel Lincoln (8:46.98) and Tulane's Solomon Kandie (8:45.14) paced the two preliminary sections of the steeplechase.

'We've had a wonderful first two days,' head coach Martin Smith said. 'When you take a step back and look at it, we have two national champions in Santiago Lorenzo and John Stiegeler. And we've also had a number of other athletes have very impressive performances - Jason Hartmann in the 10,000, Billy Pappas in the decathlon and Micah Harris in the hurdles. A wonder individual and team effort so far.'

On the women's side, the Duck women did not feature any individuals among the day's two finals and other qualifying action.

In the women's shot put final, UCLA seniuor Christina Tolson won with a throw of (57-0 3/4 17.39m), besting Clemson junior Jamine Moton (second, 56-4 3/4 17.19). Senior Amy Yoder-Begley broke the tape first in the women's 10,000 final (33:59.96) and edged Wake Forest senior Sara Day (second, 34:06.53).

Among women's qualifying events, Illinois freshman and sophomore Predita Felicien and Perdita Felicien led qualifying action in the 100 hurdles (12.83, 12.93). Rice's Allison Beckford (51.50) paced the preliminaries of the 400, just ahead of South Carolina's Demetria Washington (51.70).Texas and South Carolina took the tape in the 4x400 prelims in times of 3:29.57 and 3:29.80, respectively. Stanford's Sally Glynn and Arkansas' Tracy Robertson led the 1,500 prelims in clockings of 4:17.22 and 4:19.45, respectively.

Overall in the women's team race, UCLA leads the field with 16 points, with Arizona, Idaho and Arkansas locked in a three-way tie for second (10 points). Rice, Colorado State, Clemson and Wake Forest are tied in fifth (6).

Looking ahead to Friday's third day action, the Duck women enter junior Niki Reed in the pole vault (5 pm), freshman Sarah Malone and sophomore Charyl Weingarten in the javelin (6 pm), junior Micah Harris in the 110 hurdles (6:40 pm) and senior Michael Kasahun in the 5,000 (8 pm).

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