DES MOINES, Iowa - Jamesha Youngblood took third in the long jump and six Oregon runners advanced to finals Wednesday on a hot and muggy first day of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
"Weird things happened in all different events," said Oregon Associate Athletic Director Vin Lananna. "We'll see how it all sorts out.
"We still have a lot to go."
Youngblood matched her best ever finish at these outdoor championships with a wind-aided season best leap of 21-7.5/6.59m. The senior from San Pablo, Calif., was also third as a sophomore in 2009.
"I wanted to win, but 21-7 is not bad so I'm not too upset," said Youngblood, whose best leap came on her second attempt and scored six team points. "It was a tough field today."
Oregon advanced a pair of runners to Friday's finals in the 800 meters. Elijah Greer won his semifinal heat in 1:47.17, pulling away down the stretch from UCLA's Cory Primm, who was second in 1:47.43.
"I felt kind of tired, but it felt easy; it felt good," said the sophomore from Lake Oswego, Ore. "I didn't want to put anything to chance. I finished third last year and missed (the final)."
In the women's 800 meters, Anne Kesselring was a semifinal winner in 2:04.70. The sophomore from Nurnberg, Germany, took control of the race around the final curve to win. Freshman Laura Roesler was fourth in her heat in 2:05.29 and did not advance.
"I didn't want to worry about how the race went out, I just didn't want to get boxed in or anything," said Kesselring. "
English Gardner survived a collision with teammate Mandy White in the women's 4x100 meter relay to come back and win her semifinal heat of the 100 meters. Following a false start that resulted in the disqualification of Texas A&M's Jeneba Tarmoh, Gardner got off to a conservative start before pulling ahead the second half of the race.
The freshman from Voorhees, N.J., crossed the line with a comfortable lead in 11.17. Junior Amber Purvis, still recovering from a leg injury she suffered at the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds, did not start the competition.
"Things happen at championship meets," said Gardner, who will run in Saturday's final. "You just have to learn how to push through.
Mike Berry came out on top of a furious finish in his semifinal heat of the men's 400 meters. Slightly ahead off the final turn, the freshman from Seattle, Wash., needed everything he had down the final stretch to win in 45.23. Joey Hughes of USC was second in 45.27, Bryan Miller was third in 45.29 and Errol Nolan of Houston was fourth in 45.30 as a mere seven-hundredths of a second separated the top four.
"I glanced over and saw everybody at the finish line," said Berry. "It was a good effort. There were a lot of good people in my heat."
In the women's 400 meters, freshman Chizoba Okodogbe was seventh in her heat in 53.30 and did not advance.
Steve Finley slipped into the final of the men's steeplechase. After putting on a last-ditch charge over the final 150 meters, he moved up to eighth in his heat in 8:50.00, and then the senior transfer from Virginia was the last qualifier to advance on time to Friday's final.
In the decathlon, David Klech ran a personal best 48.06 in the 400 meters to highlight his day in the decathlon. Halfway through the competition, Klech is 10th with 4,024 points.
The senior from San Ramon, Calif., also cleared 6-8.75/2.05m in the high jump, which was tied for the second-best clearance on the day, went 23-8.25/7.88m in the long jump (eighth), 10.94 in the 100 meters (tied for ninth) and threw 35-1.25/10.71m in the shot put.
Alex Wolff just missed a legal throw in the men's javelin that could have been long enough to advance him to the finals. The senior from Newberg, Ore., threw around 230 feet (70 meters) on his first attempt, but the implement fell outside the sector by less than a foot. He struggled on his other two throws with a best of 215-11/65.83m, which was good for 22nd.
Junior Bronwyn Crossman finished 15th in the final of the women's 10,000 meters. The junior from Bellingham, Wash., timed 35:25.12.
The Ducks suffered a setback in the women's 4x100 meter relay where White and Gardner got tangled up on the first exchange and dropped the baton.