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Centrowitz Claims Crown; Women NCAA Runners-up
Release Date: 06/11/2011
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DES MOINES, Iowa - Matthew Centrowitz controlled the men's 1,500 meters throughout to win his first NCAA title and the Women of Oregon brought home their impressive third straight NCAA runner-up title Saturday at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

"It was a good track meet," said Associate Athletic Director Vin Lananna. "It was an exciting event and close meet and our women can use it as motivation for next year."

The women of Oregon came up just short, finishing four points below the Aggies. Texas A&M totaled 49 points, with Oregon at 45, LSU 43.5, Oklahoma 42 and Arizona 35.

Centrowitz took charge of the race early, going to the front of the field at the gun and then refused to slow the pace early. He dropped to second the last half of the race before charging to the lead at the bell. The entire field responded and went with the junior from Arnold, Md., who stayed strong down the backstretch and then swung wide off the final curve to thwart a final challenge from Arkansas' Dorian Ulrey.

Centrowitz crossed the tape alone in 3:42.54 to give Oregon back-to-back NCAA titles in the 1,500 meters. Andrew Wheating won for the Ducks in 2010.

"I didn't know what to expect, honestly. Going out there, I could see it being fast or being slow. So I said the best thing for me to do was to get up front and up in the front today was being a leader for the first quarter. Any move that was being made, I just wanted to be in the top third of the pack."

"I didn't know what to expect, but I figured I would be up in the front this time," said Centrowitz. "I was kind of weird being in the lead on the first lap, but I was just staying as relaxed as possible.

"I'm really excited to get my first NCAA title," said Centrowitz, who was third a year ago. "That's been a goal of mine for a long time."

The 10 points for the win gave Oregon 25 team points for the meet as the Ducks finished tied for 10th. Texas A&M won the men's title with 55 points, followed closely by Florida State with 54 and Florida with 53.

The women continued to add up points on the meet's final day and were tied with Texas A&M going into the 4x400 meter relay before they finished second for the third straight season.

The 4x400 meter relay team posted one of the Ducks most impressive performances of the meet. The squad composed of three freshman and an injured senior who has just gotten back to competition the last months finished third in a school record 3:28.18.

Michele Williams, the senior, led off and had Oregon fourth the first time around the oval. Chizoba Okodogbe, the first of three freshmen on the relay, moved the Ducks into second behind Auburn with a 50-second leg and Phyllis Francis kept the Ducks there. That left Laura Roesler to battle Texas A&M superstar Jessica Beard, and the Aggies' senior led A&M to the team title by running a meet record anchor leg of 49.14.

Texas A&M won the relay in 3:26.31, with Auburn next at 3:26.46. The Ducks' third-place time broke the school record set at this meet a year ago.

"Texas A&M, they always bring their "A" game," said Roesler. "Jessica Beard - she's always a beast.

"I tried to react to her, but she just blew right by me. She really came to play."

Elsewhere for the women, Becca Friday rallied from last place on the final lap to pass seven runners over the final 400 meters to finish fifth in in 4:16.76. The sophomore from Bellingham, Wash., stayed at the back of a tight pack before finally making her move. Sophomore Jordan Hasay was eighth in 4:17.67 as she completed a difficult double of running the 1,500 and 5,000 meters.

"I'm kind of upset with myself because I was so far back, but I'm really pleased with my finish," said Friday. "I feel really good."

Claire Michel stepped on the gas pedal the final lap to finish eighth in the women's steeplechase in 10:10.27 and score a point for the team. Freshman Lanie Thompson took 13th in 10:28.21 in her first NCAA final.

Prior to Saturday, the Duck women saw national champions from senior Melissa Gergel in the pole vault and Anne Kesselring in the 800 meters, a third-place finish from senior Jamesha Youngblood in the long jump, Hasay's fourth-place showing in the 5,000 meters and freshman English Gardner's gutsy seventh-place finish in the 100 meters.

Williams, the senior quarter-miler, summed up the young Ducks chances when the meet returns to Des Moines next season.

"That's a lot of freshmen," she said. "They have a ton of talent and a lot of potential."

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