DES MOINES, Iowa – Ashton Eaton and Matthew Centrowitz became the third and fourth UO alumni to claim national titles at the 2013 USA Track and Field Championships, while junior Mac Fleet was the highest finishing collegian in the men’s 1,500 meters Saturday at Drake Stadium.
On the same day north of the border, Brianne Theisen rolled to Canadian national title in the heptathlon in impressive fashion.
Centrowitz held off a barrage of challengers in a kicker’s race to claim the 1,500 meter crown. With the field tightly bunched until the final lap, Centrowitz surged around leader Russsell Brown late in the race and finished strong to win in 3:45.17.
“In my head I said, ‘Dominate the final’ and that’s what I set out to do, I didn’t really glance back,” said Centrowitz, the 2011 NCAA champion at 1,500 meters. “Definitely wanted to make a statement heading to Worlds. I’m in great shape, definitely looking forward to improving on my (Olympic) bronze medal.”
Fleet was in perfect position when Centrowitz made his move and he followed the lead of his former teammate, but the field of experienced professionals proved slightly too strong for Fleet, running in his first USA final.
Still, the junior from San Diego, Calif., was the top collegian, finishing sixth in 3:46.06.
Former Duck Andrew Wheating was 12th in 4:01.55.
Eaton added to Oregon’s impressive cache of national champions by coming from behind to win the decathlon with 8,291 points.
He regained the lead on the seventh event, the discus, and never looked back.
After running 14.68 in the 110 meter hurdles (889 points), Eaton threw out a discus toss of 144-4/43.99m (746 points) to overtake Gunnar Nixon, who had taken the lead Friday in the high jump.
“It was a good two days,” said Eaton, a five-time NCAA Champion for the Ducks. “It was good to do another multi because it’s been since the (Olympic) Games. I feel pretty good about that. I have quite a bit of confidence. Obviously the high jump was very sub-par, the hurdles and the pole vault, and a lot of that stuff was very much ‘safety.’ If I can score 8,200 with those marks, I think at 100 percent, I’ll be OK.”
After taking the lead, Eaton closed out the victory by clearing 15-1/4.60m in the pole vault (790 points), throwing 198-0/60.36m in the javelin (743 points) and running 4:34.15 in the 1,500 meters (718 points).
Current Duck Dakotah Keys rallied with top six finishes in the final three events to place 10th overall with 7,486 points.
The sophomore from Sweet Home, Ore., ran 15.17 in the 110 meter hurdles (829 points) and threw 120-0/36.59m in the discus (596 points) before beginning his strong finish.
He was sixth in the pole vault at 15-5/4.70m (819 points), won the javelin at 203-11/61.91m (767 points) and took sixth in the 1,500 meters in 4:34.55 (716 points).
Former Duck Britney Henry was fifth in the women’s hammer with a throw of 228-3/69.57m.
In a steamy women’s steeplechase final, Oregon senior Alexi Pappas finished eighth in 10:07.77, while Duck alum and current volunteer assistant coach Kimber Mattox was 13th in 10:25.89.
In the USA Junior meet, Cameron Acosta, a freshman from Portland, Ore., who redshirted the 2013 campaign, finished 10th in the men’s javelin with a best throw of 188-1/57.33m.
Meanwhile at the Canadian Track & Field Championships in Moncton, New Brunswick, Theisen may have had the most impressive performance of any Duck this weekend. She won all seven events – including the final three on Saturday – to win the Canadian national title in the heptathlon with an impressive 6,233 points
The 2012 UO graduate began day two by winning the long jump with a leap of 20-3.75/6.19m. Theisen followed that with a throw of 143-10/43.85m in the javelin and made it a clean sweep by taking the 800 meters in 2:11.32 to claim her first Canadian national heptathlon title.
Two current Ducks were also in action at the Canadian meet on Saturday.
Freshman Annie Leblanc placed fifth in the final of the women’s 1,500 meters, running 4:19.53.
Freshman Jack Galpin was eighth in the final of the men’s 400 meters in 48.61.
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