School Record Puts Ross On Podium
EUGENE, Ore. — Jaida Ross got the Women of Oregon on the scoreboard Thursday. Kemba Nelson set the stage for more team points to come Saturday.
Ross, the UO redshirt freshman from Medford, scored four points for the UO women with a fifth-place finish in the shot put Thursday in the NCAA Outdoor Championships at Hayward Field. Ross improved on her own school record with a put of 58 feet, 6 inches, in her first national meet appearance.
Nelson had a hand in two victories during preliminary rounds Thursday, winning her heat of the 100 meters in 10.97 and helping the Ducks win their 4x100-meter heat in 42.64 seconds. Those event finals will be contested Saturday, following finals of the men's competition Friday.
The UO men missed a chance to score Thursday when the decathlon competition concluded. Oregon's Max Vollmer was in sixth through seven events but was unable to clear his opening height in the pole vault and took two throws in the javelin before pulling out of the event.
Ross also qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the discus, which will be held Saturday. But her best chance to score and earn all-America honors was in the shot put, and she came through as the third UO women ever to score in the event.
"This is definitely a victory for me," said Ross, who matched Brittany Mann from 2015 and 2016 for the best finish by a Duck in the women's shot put. "I'm very happy with it. I'll be celebrating tonight. Of course after tonight I'll focus on discus, but for tonight I'm gonna be happy about it and celebrate it. This feels good, it feels really good."
Ross threw 55-7.75 on her opening put, which she thought might be good enough to qualify for the final round of three throws. But in a competition that saw winner Adelaide Aquilla of Ohio State set a collegiate record on her opening throw, 64-5.25, Ross was in danger of not advancing as she prepared for her third and final preliminary throw.
That ended up being her new school record put, after a small improvement on her second effort.
"I don't usually grunt when I throw, but I yelled a little bit," Ross said of her third attempt. "I gave it all I had. Even if the throw didn't make finals, that's what I had. That was my best of the day. And that's all I could do."
Oregon's other entrant in the shot put, Mine De Klerk, finished 13th with a best effort of 55-4.25.
Ross capped an outdoor season that saw her improve her personal best four different times, most recently in the Pac-12 Championships in May. That event also was held at Hayward Field, but Thursday's vibe in the venue was different, Ross said.
"The energy was definitely different — a lot more people than I'm used to," Ross said. "It was just a good environment. I had people I love here, my friends and family, my coach (Erik Whitsitt) who's given so much to me this season."
Nelson was the fourth overall qualifier into Saturday's 100-meter final based on her personal-best time of 10.97 in the 100. Thursday's race marked the fifth sub-11 performance of her UO career on the heels of an all-conditions best of 10.85 (+2.6) at the NCAA West Preliminary in Arkansas. She also ran the second leg of the 4x100 relay, which recorded a season best of 42.64.
The relay team will enter Saturday as a confident group after Thursday's smooth trip for the baton around the track.
"We felt really great about opening that way," said senior Jasmin Reed, who ran the third leg. "The goal for today was just get the stick around, have safe passes and just have fun out there. And that's exactly what we did. So now, Saturday is a whole different game plan. And I'm really excited."
Two other members of the relay will be looking to work off some frustration Saturday. Both Jadyn Mays and Jasmine Montgomery came up short in attempts to join Nelson in Saturday's 100-meter final, and Montgomery also did not advance in the 200, along with teammate Iman Brown.
"I'm not going to hang my head," Montgomery said after her preliminary in the 200. "I'm just going to push through, and next year come back even better. Everyone in this race is going to feel me next year, for real. But until then they're just going to have to feel me in the 4x1."
Alexandra Webster made her NCAA Outdoor Championships debut in the 400 hurdles and ran 57.25, which did not make the final. Izzy Thornton-Bott ended up in a very methodical heat of the 1,500 and was unable to survive a mad dash over the final 200 meters to advance, finishing in 4:23.90.
And Malia Pivec got her first education in NCAA Outdoor Championships competition in the 3,000 steeplechase, falling behind the pack early and finishing in 10:23.96.
"My coach really hammered in trying to be a participant in today's race, and unfortunately I was more of a spectator," Pivec said. "It's just the nature of not making a move right when the pack started to go, and after the first water jump I think I kind of let that become my race. And I can learn from that going forward."
Day three of the 2022 NCAA Championships will feature three opportunities for the Men of Oregon to win a national title with Micah Williams at 100 meters, Aaron Bienenfeld at 5,000 meters and defending champion Emmanuel Ihemeje in the triple jump. Television coverage kicks off at 6 p.m. (PT) on ESPN2.
Williams was the fastest overall qualifier in 10.03 from Wednesday's semifinal heats. Friday's race will be the second of the week for Bienenfeld who finished eighth in the 10,000 meters on day one.
100 Meters – semifinal
4. Kemba Nelson – 10.97q (PB) [No. 4 UO]
19. Jadyn Mays – 11.28
21. Jasmine Montgomery – 11.37
200 Meters – semifinal
16. Iman Brown – 22.96 (-0.2)
20. Jasmine Montgomery – 23.15
1500 Meters – semifinal
20. Izzy Thornton-Bott – 4:23.90
400m Hurdles – semifinal
11. Alexandra Webster – 57.25
3,000m Steeplechase – semifinal
21. Malia Pivec – 10:23.96
4x100m Relay – semifinal
4. Jadyn Mays/Kemba Nelson/Jasmin Reed/Jasmine Montgomery – 42.64q (SB) [No. 3 UO]
5. Jaida Ross – 17.83m/58-6 (PB) [No. 1 UO] [4 points]
13. Mine De Klerk – 16.87m/55-4.25
Decathlon – Day 2/Final
--. Max Vollmer – DNF
14. 110m Hurdles – 14.93 (-0.3) [858 points]
13. Discus – 39.97m/131-1 
--. Pole Vault – NH
11. Javelin – 54.76m/179-8 
--. 1500 Meters – DNS
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