Men of Oregon Win 2021 NCAA Indoor Title
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – On the strength of six individual champions, the Men of Oregon won the 2021 NCAA Indoor Championships on Saturday afternoon at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, Ark. The Ducks racked up 79 points, the second-highest score in meet history and highest total since 1994. The national indoor title is the fourth under head coach Robert Johnson, good for his 14th NCAA Championship overall.
For the Women of Oregon, Kemba Nelson broke the collegiate record with a blazing time of 7.05 on the way to victory in the 60 meters. Paired with a pair of seventh-place efforts from Aneta Konieczek in the mile and Emily Sloan in the 60-meter hurdles, the UO women tallied 14 points at the national meet.
"That point total is absolutely crazy," Johnson said during the trophy presentation for the UO men. "A lot of praise and accolades will go to the national champions but we don't want to forget those guys that were second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth because they make this championship and make it special.
"With all that's gone on in the world and having this meet canceled a year ago, I couldn't be prouder."
Cole Hocker was a double winner Saturday with victories in the mile and 3,000 meters. He was joined in the champions circle by teammates Micah Williams (60m), Charlie Hunter (800m) and Emmanuel Ihemeje (triple jump). Coupled with Friday's win in the distance-medley relay, the Men of Oregon won six NCAA indoor titles during the weekend. It's only the second time that has ever been done and first time since Arkansas in 1994.
With his dual performance, Hocker posted the first mile-3K title sweep since 2013 (Lawi Lalang, Arizona). In his first of two races, Hocker (3:53.71) broke Lalang's meet record in the mile to post the Ducks' first win of the day. Teammate Reed Brown added four points in a fifth-place finish, running 3:57.62 in his third-career appearance at the NCAA meet.
Approximately an hour later, Hocker was back on the track to lead a 1-2 Oregon finish in the 3,000 meters with Cooper Teare. In a tight finish, Hocker established a new personal best of 7:46.15 with Teare finishing in 7:46.23 for second place. The pair were more than two seconds clear of the field. Needing seven points between the two to clinch the team title, Hocker and Teare maximized the opportunity with 18 points to secure the victory.
Nelson bettered the previous NCAA mark shared by Aleia Hobbs (LSU) and former Ducks' standout Hannah Cunliffe. Nelson also becomes the third Oregon woman to win the NCAA title at 60 meters, joining the exclusive list featuring Cunliffe and English Gardner.
Combined with Williams' win in the men's 60, Oregon is the second school to sweep the NCAA titles in the event and first since LSU did so in 2008.
In the Ducks' lone field event of the day, Ihemeje put on a show in the triple jump. He entered the weekend as the No. 6 national qualifier with a best of 16.41 meters. Ihemeje eclipsed that mark four times Saturday, finishing with a day's best of 17.26m/56-7.5 to improve upon his own school record and move into a tie for the No. 6 performer in collegiate history. Ihemeje is the first NCAA triple jump champion in program history.
Williams, another UO freshman, matched his personal best of 6.49 to win the 60 meters, another first for the UO men. He is the third runner to go sub-6.50 to win the NCAA indoor title, joining the short list that features Ronnie Baker (TCU) in 2016 and collegiate-record holder Christian Coleman (Tennessee) in 2017.
Hunter, a member of Friday's victorious DMR, out-leaned Finley McLear of Miami (Ohio) for the victory in the 800 meters. Hunter sat in fourth at the bell but moved into second position by the top of the final curve. Down the last 50 meters, the UO standout tracked the leader and passed him right at the line to win in 1:45.90, just .01 ahead of McLear. Hunter is the Ducks' first 800-meter indoor champion since Elijah Greer in 2013.
Konieczek turned in a time of 4:38.46 to cap her NCAA debut with the Ducks. She had previous NCAA experience at the Division II level with Western State (Colo.). In the Ducks' finale event of the weekend, Sloan bettered her time from Friday's prelim in 8.08 to collect two points for the UO women. This weekend marked her first trip to the NCAA Championships.
Making her NCAA Championships debut, Dominique Ruotolo had a day's best of 13.02m/42-8.75 in round three. The UO sophomore finishes the indoor campaign with a season best of 13.38m/43-10.75 from the Championships at the Peak meet (Feb. 27). With that mark, she ranks third on the UO all-time indoor list.
NCAA Indoor Championships – Day 3
1. Micah Williams – 6.49 (=PR)
5. Gaston Bouchereau – 6.65
1. Charlie Hunter – 1:45.90
1. Cole Hocker – 3:53.71 [meet record]
5. Reed Brown – 3:57.62
1. Cole Hocker – 7:46.15 (PR)
2. Cooper Teare – 7:46.23
1. Emmanuel Ihemeje – 17.26m/56-7.5 (PR) [No. 1 UO, =No. 6 NCAA]
1. Kemba Nelson – 7.05 (PR) [No. 1 UO, collegiate record)]
7. Aneta Konieczek – 4:38.46
7. Emily Sloan – 8.08
13. Dominique Ruotolo – 13.02m/42-8.75
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