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Pac-12 announces 2022 track & field postseason awards

May 19, 2022

SAN FRANCISCO – Oregon's Micah Williams and Colorado's Abby Nichols were named the Pac-12 Men's and Women's Track Athletes of the Year, while California's Mykolas Alekna and Arizona State's Jorinde van Klinken were tabbed the Pac-12 Men's and Women's Field Athletes of the Year in a vote of conference coaches announced on Thursday.

Alekna was also selected Pac-12 Men's Track & Field Freshman of the Year, Washington State's Micaela De Mello won the first-year accolade on the women's side, and Ducks' head coach Robert Johnson swept both Pac-12 Men's and Women's Coach of the Year honors.

PAC-12 MEN'S TRACK ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Micah Williams, Oregon
At the Pac-12 Championships on Sunday, Williams' double in the 100 and 200-meter dashes led the Ducks to their 15th consecutive conference title. He ran a meet-record 9.93 in the 100, besting the 9.97s of Oregon's Cravon Gillespie (2019) and USC's Andre De Grasse (2015). Currently the fifth-best wind-legal time in the world this year, it was just off the 9.91 he ran at last year's U.S. Olympic Trials, which is the No. 2 performance in Pac-12 history and one that helped him make Team USA's 4x100-meter relay pool in Tokyo. Back in mid-April, the Bowerman Watch List candidate ran a wind-aided 9.83 at the at the Mt. SAC Relays.

Williams completed his 100/200 triumph at the conference meet with a PR of 20.05 in the 200, the fastest wind-legal time at the Pac-12 Championships since De Grasse in 2015 (20.05). He became the fifth Duck 200 champion, joining George Walcott (1983), Devon Allen (2016), Kyree King (2017) and Cravon Gillespie (2019) and is now No. 4 in the NCAA this season (wind legal).

Williams ran the second leg in UO's third-place 4x100-meter relay and amassed a meet-best 21.5 points to earn Men's Athlete of the Meet accolades. He is the ninth Pac-12 Men's Track Athlete of the Year from Oregon and fourth in the past six seasons.

On the first day of last weekend's Pac-12 Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Nichols set a 10K meet record with a PR of 32:27.25. Her first 10K of the season also set a CU program record and moved her to No. 6 on the Pac-12's all-time list. 

Two days later in the 5K, the 2021 Pac-12 women's cross country champion picked up a rare double, winning the 5K in 15:47.92. Nichols is only the third woman to win 5K and 10K titles at the same Pac-12 Championships, joining Oregon's Nicole Blood (2010) and Stephanie Wessell (1990).

Her 10,000-meter time at the Pac-12 Championships is currently No. 1 in the NCAA and earlier this season she ran a 15:15.95 5,000 at the Mt. SAC Relays, a time that is No. 2 in the country this year and also second on the conference's all-time top-10.

Nichols is just the second from Colorado to win an individual Pac-12 track & field award, joining Erin Clark, who was voted Pac-12 Women's Track & Field Freshman of the Year in 2015.

Mykolas Alekna bettered his collegiate discus record with a throw of 225-6 on his fifth attempt at the Pac-12 Championships on Sunday. In besting his previous mark of 222-0 from the Big Meet on April 30, he became first Golden Bear to win a conference title in the event since Ramon Jimenez-Gaona in 1992. The freshman has the No. 2 discus mark in the world this year and the farthest throw by a teenager in world history.

In his debut season, Alekna has also broken the Lithuanian U23 record, two facility records and four meet records. He earned two U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Division I Men's Athlete of the Week awards and was also named Pac-12 Men's Field Athlete of the Week four times. Alekna currently owns eight of the top 12 throws in NCAA history.

He is the first in program history to win a men's Pac-12 track & field postseason award and just the second Golden Bear all-time. Cal's Alysia Johnson was named Pac-12 Women's Track Athlete of the Year in both 2007 and 2008. Alekna is also just the second to win multiple Pac-12 men's awards in the same season, joining UCLA's Isaiah Holmes, who was also voted field athlete and freshman of the year in 2017.

PAC-12 WOMEN'S FIELD ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Jorinde van Klinken, Arizona State
The 2022 conference shot put and discus champion is just the second woman to win back-to-back Pac-12 Women's Field Athlete of the Year honors along with fellow Sun Devil Maggie Ewen (2017-18). She's the 10th woman in Pac-12 history to win league shot put and discus titles in the season season.

A Tokyo Olympian for the Netherlands, van Klinken is the also the reigning NCAA outdoor discus champion and added an NCAA indoor shot put title in mid-March. She is third in the world and leads the country in the discus by a wide margin (212-5/64.75m). The only NCAA discus thrower over 200 feet this year, she has surpassed the mark in four of her five meets, and has the 14 farthest discus marks this spring. She's also No. 3 nationally in the shot put (60-6.5/18.45m).

PAC-12 WOMEN'S TRACK & FIELD FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Micaela De Mello, Washington State
The runner-up in the 100 hurdles at the Pac-12 Championships, De Mello ran a 13.03 PR to drop her school-record time for the third time this season and earn WSU's best place in the event since Agneta Rosenblad was also second in 2001.

In her first 100-hurdle prelims of the outdoor season at the Baldy Castillo Invitational, she broke the WSU freshman record that had stood since 1999 with a 13.28 and in the final she broke the school record that had stood since 2007 with a 13.08 to win the event at her first collegiate outdoor meet.

De Mello is the first women's award winner from Washington State in program history and seventh Cougar to earn a Pac-12 postseason track & field award all-time, joining Pac-12 Men's Track Athletes of the Year Gabriel Tiacoh (1986), Samuel Kibiri (1991), Josephat Kapkory (1994), Bernard Lagat (1999), Anson Henry (2002), Jeshua Anderson (2011). Anderson was also Pac-12 Men's Track & Field Freshman of the Year in 2008.

Johnson’s 10th and 11th overall Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors comes after leading the Men and Women of Oregon to their 10th sweep of the Pac-12 Track & Field Championships last Sunday at Hayward Field. It marked the 15th straight team title for the Duck men and the first since 2017 for the UO women. Oregon swept team titles for nine consecutive years from 2009-17.

In the national rankings, the Oregon men are currently ranked No. 5, matching their season best from April 25, while the women, in the top 10 all season, are No. 8. It marks the second straight men's honor and sixth overall in Johnson's 10 years leading the Ducks, and is also his fifth all-time women's award, and first since 2017.