NCAA track and field day 4 recap: 4 Pac-12ers win individual titles

Four Pac-12 athletes won individual titles in the last day of competition at the NCAA outdoor track and field championships in Eugene: Arizona's Lawi Lalang and Brigetta Barrett in the men's 5,000m and women's high jump, Colorado's Emma Coburn in the 3,000m steeplechase and Oregon's Mac Fleet in the 1,500m. From a team perspective, Oregon was the highest Pac-12 finisher in both the men's and women's standings, with the women finishing third and the men fourth.

That man Lawi Lalang is a long-distance machine. After destroying the field in the 10K, Lalang cruised to the 5K title with a time of 13:35.19. This guy has had a heck of a season:  

Brigetta Barrett wanted to join in on the first-place fun as well:

Barrett has been a busy woman this year, but that didn't stop the Pac-12 Woman of the Year from clearing 6-04.75ft./1.95m. Not a new collegiate record for her, but enough for another first-place finish. Her high jump title along with Julie Labonté's fifth-place showing in the shot put helped the Wildcat women wrap up the weekend in a tie for sixth for Stanford with 33 points, while Lalang's belt got the men a top-10 finish with 20.50 points (10th).

The Forks' ninth-ranked women's team got a couple of more points in the form of Shelby Houlihan's seventh-place finish in the 1,500m. Her time of 4:14.95 made her an All-American and put her in rarified air in Sun Devils lore:

Anna Jelmini tried to pick up a second individual championship after winning the discus throw, but finished 11th in the shot put with a hurl of 53-07.50ft./16.34m. Thus, the Arizona State women completed the weekend with 28 points-- 10th-best at the meet.

The question really wasn't whether or not Emma Coburn would win the 3,000m steeplechase-- everyone knew she would, and Coburn did indeed finish her storied career with an NCAA title. It was whether or not she could break the collegiate record set by her training partner Jenny Barringer Simpson (also a Buff). Coburn ended up crossing the finish line at 9:35.38, a little fewer than ten seconds off the record of 9:25.54. That's ok by Coburn, however, as she said after the race it was a conscious decision to not go for the record and just make sure she wrapped up the championship. She did that with ease, getting out to a huge lead and winning by nearly three seconds (which is actually a lot closer than she is used to). Simply put, the Buffs own the steeplechase.

The Oregon women needed to make up a 15-point deficit to usurp Kansas on Saturday, but things looked gloomy from the start of the day for Robert Johnson's female athletes with a fourth-place finish in the 4x100m relay. The Quacks quartet had the lead up until the final pass of the baton, but a shaky exchange between Jenna Prandini and Chizoba Okodogbe allowed Texas A&M to take charge. Then, the lady Ducks were unable to get on the board in the 1,500m despite having two participants in the event (Anne Kesselring fell near the finish line just as she was in a position to get points). The zero points in the 1,500m essentially did the Ducks in, and Kansas' lead grew to 19 points with five events remaining. The women did get five more points with a fourth-place showing in the 4x400m relay, but the Jayhawks were too far out in front and ended up winning the title with 60 points. The men had an outside chance at the team title heading into the final day of competition and Mac Fleet helped the cause by winning the 1,500m championship with a time of 3:50.25, gesturing to the Historic Hayward Field crowd as he crossed the finish line.

That was the last big highlight of the day, however, as Jonathan Cabral finished fifth in the 110m hurdles (a very game effort from him just to get fifth, though), Sam Crouser finished third in the javelin throw and the men's 4x400m relay team also got third thanks to a very strong anchor leg from Mike Berry. When it was all said and done, the Oregon women finished with 43 points (third) and the Duck men compiled 44 (fourth).

There weren't too many points left for the Card to get on the women's side, but Kori Carter did her best to gobble up as many as possible. The 400 hurdles champion put an impressive 12.79 on the board in the 100 hurdles, but Brianna Rollins of Clemson ran an NCAA-record 12.39 seconds to give the Tigers ten points. Still, Carter's eight allowed the Card women to finish with 33 points and tied for sixth with fellow Pac-12er Arizona.

Well Bryshon Nellum couldn't be the first guy to get the 200-400 double in 62 years, but he and Aaron Brown helped push the Trojan men towards the top of the standings with their ten combined points -- Nellum claimed third with a 20.27-second effort while Brown took home fifth, just six-hundredths of a second slower than his teammate in the 200m. That put the Trojans in first with 42 points, but the 200m was the end of their road with five events still on the board, so a first-place finish was going to be highly unlikely. Indeed, the Trojans fell out of first but still found itself in the top five with a fifth-place finish.

The Utes' only representative in Eugene did her thing. Senior Amanda Mergaert put Utah on the leader board with her third-place finish in the 1,500m.  She wasn't the Pac-12 champion in this event back in May, but she did record the best Pac-12 finish in the 1,500m this time around, clocking in at 4:14.30. Add another All-American honor to the Mergaert's résumé; she earned such nods in cross country and indoor track as well.  

All three of the Husky competitors today were in the men's javelin throw, and all three fell short of an extra three throws -- James Brookman checked in at 16th (214-04ft./65.33m), Joe Zimmerman finished 17th (210-03ft./64.09m) and Carson Fuller rounded out the Washington contingent in 22nd (202-05ft./61.70m).   Click on the link for complete results from the NCAA outdoor track and field championships. Congratulations to the Kansas Jayhwaks for winning the women's title and the Texas A&M Aggies and Florida Gators for sharing the men's top spot.

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