Eugene – Oregon hurdles leaders Kylie Mitchell and Grace Featherstonehow slammed the door of history Thursday at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field.
The OSU guards advanced from the playoffs, and Mitchell won the second round of the semi-finals in a school-record time of 9 minutes 41.51 seconds.
If one of them finished at least eighth in Saturday’s final, the Beavers would score in an NCAA meet for the first time since 1986, when Connie Petrka finished sixth in the javelin throw.
The top eight places in each event score on a 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. So, it is more than just possible.
Mitchell and Featherstonehow stole some thunder from host Oregon Ducks, an enduring force on track and field, on a grueling evening before 8451.
The ducks had some success on Thursday, too. The UO 4x100m relay won Jadyn Mays, Kemba Nelson, Jasmin Reed and Jasmine Montgomery in the third preliminary round with 42.64.
Nelson finished first in her warm-up of 100 in 10.97 to advance to Saturday’s final. Jada Ross’ kick racket finished fifth in the final, setting a personal record of 58 feet 6 inches.
Ross, 4×100 and Nelson were expected to score. Mitchell and Featherstonehaug were not mentioned in Track & Field News’ pre-meeting model chart, which went a depth of 10.
But that doesn’t mean the moment was too big.
Mitchell seemed uncomfortable, controlling her liberation on her back straight from the last lap and pinning her to the finish.
Asked if she was surprised when she took the lead with less than 400 points remaining, Michelle said: “I wouldn’t say surprised. I was happy.”
The race plan was simple, which she explained by referring to the word “confidence” written on the back of her hand.
“I just trust my instincts,” Mitchell said. “I just know I have to trust myself. When I feel like it, just trust. Don’t think twice about it.”
When instinct told her to take a decisive step, she did. In the process, she broke Fetherstonhaugh’s school record of 9:44.76 set in April.
Fetherstonhau, for her part, battled for fifth after landing straight from the last lap in a race in which the leaders automatically qualified for the final.
She admitted to sneaking a look at the video board at the south end of the stadium as she nervously made it to the finish line.
Perhaps that peek was the difference. She crossed in fifth place with a time of 9:45.17 in front of Edva Cohen of New Mexico. via Cohen at 9:45.18, and advanced to the final as a time qualifier.
Problems continued for the men’s UO team when decathlon Max Vollmer failed to surpass a height in the pole vault, his eighth in the 10-event competition. He was sixth in decathlon after seven events.
Vollmer, the personal record holder of 16-4¾ in the vault, entered the competition Thursday at 15-1½. It doesn’t look like he’s close to getting a pass on any of his three attempts.
He chose javelin, the ninth decathlon event, then retired from competition.
Arkansas player Aiden Owens-Delerme leads the decathlon. He scored 8,457 points to equal the record set by Ashton Eaton of Oregon in 2010.
Meanwhile, the UO men have one team point ahead of Friday, the last day of the men’s meet.
They have two legitimate chances to win Friday’s events. Olympian Micah Williams set the fastest time in the semi-finals at 100. Italian Olympian Emmanuel Emeghi is the defending champion in the triple jump.
But the only other entry in Oregon is Aaron Pennfield in the 5,000. Pennfield has scored the UO men’s singles team point so far with an eighth-place finish on Wednesday’s 10,000.
Ross’ big shot came in on her third try and edged out her previous best by nearly a foot.
Perhaps it was an inspiration. Event winner Adelaide Aquila of Ohio State broke the collective record with her first attempt, a 64-5¼ monster. That broke the record 63-10¼ held by Maggie Ewen of Arizona since 2018.
Canadian Olympian Camryn Rogers of Cal won the NCAA hammer for the third time while breaking her own record with a throw of 254 feet 10 inches. The previous record, of 250-10, had only held since the regional qualifying meet two weeks ago.
Thursday’s big throw came on the fifth attempt in a series in which each attempt was 245-0 and 254-10.
Rogers’ philosophy is to stay consistent and in rhythm until “you have one that goes,” she said.
Setup didn’t hurt either.
“Hayward is a special place,” Rogers said. “It carries with it energy that gets you going.”
Below are results from the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
– Ken Jo, for The Oregonian / OregonLive
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