EUGENE, Ore. – Greg Skipper placed fourth in the hammer and Parker Stinson took sixth in the 10,000 meters as the Men of Oregon got on the scoreboard Thursday before 9,835 sun-drenched fans at the NCAA Track and Field Championships at Historic Hayward Field.
In semifinal action on the track, Johnathan Cabral, Anne Kesselring, Becca Friday, Mac Fleet and both 4x400 meter relays all advanced through semifinal heats on to Saturday’s finals.
“We’re still trying to get a trophy,” said Oregon head coach Robert Johnson. “There are lots of points to be won tomorrow. We’re looking forward to doing what we do.”
With Skipper and Stinson combining for eight points, the men were tied for seventh. Texas led with 31 points, followed by Arkansas and Virginia with 14.
Kansas led the women’s race with 22 points, followed by Arizona State with 20 and Arizona with 11. Oregon had one point going into the day, but had no women competing in finals on Thursday.
In his first NCAA Championships, Skipper ripped off a throw of 219-11/67.03m on his second attempt. That held up for fourth place over the next four rounds as the freshman from Oregon City, Ore., scored the first five points for the men.
“It was not the series I wanted,” said Skipper. “I needed to be more consistent, but all in all, it was a good experience. I just want to thank my family. It was a good meet. I think it went as good as it could go.”
Stinson followed that with a strong sixth place run in the 10,000. He ran in the top three early in the race, but did not break when the leaders pushed the pace and was able to score three crucial points for the Ducks by finishing sixth in 29:46.45.
“I haven’t done anything at the NCAA level and my main goal was to score some points for the team and get experience at this level,” said the junior from Austin, Texas. “By the end, I was about four or five seconds from second place. I wasn’t expecting to run at that pace.
“I think being here was a big reason why I got sixth. I have lots of fans cheering me on and I think it’s unacceptable to not score in the 10K in front of a home crowd, especially at Hayward.”
Also in the 10,000, Matthew Melancon finished 20th in 30:42.16, as the freshman from Eugene, Ore., made his NCAA debut in front of the home crowd.
The Ducks set the table for the rest of the meet with six qualifiers advancing to Saturday’s finals.
Oregon’s 4x400 meter relay squads were again impressive.
The women’s 4x400 meter relay roared to victory in 3:28.15. The team of Jenna Prandini, Chizoba Okodogbe, Laura Roesler and Phyllis Francis not only had the fastest semifinal on Thursday but also ran the No. 3 time in school history.
“(My teammates) put me in the perfect spot,” said Roesler. “All I had to do was follow the others and use my 100 meter strength in the final 120 meters.”
The men’s 4x400 team was nearly as successful. The squad of Jack Galpin, Arthur Delaney, Kevin Anding and Mike Berry ran second in their heat to Texas A&M in 3:04.20 to automatically qualify for the finals. That time was just .04 off the Ducks’ season best.
“I think it went well,” said Berry. “We knew we had a tough time in Texas A&M, but we qualified for finals.”
In the men’s 110 meter hurdles, Cabral, a sophomore from Calabasas, Calif., got off to a strong start and won his heat in 13.46 to move on to Saturday’s final.
“We did what we all wanted to do,” said Cabral. “We wanted to go out and finish. Now we have to move onto the next thing and come out for Saturday.”
Both Oregon teams advanced in the 1,500 meters. For the women, senior Anne Kesselring eased to third place in her heat in 4:14.74, while senior Becca Friday took fourth in heat two in 4;17.46.
In the men’s 1,500 meters, Mac Fleet put on a burst of speed down the final straightaway to win his heat in 3:41.21. The junior from San Diego, Calif., had the fastest qualifying time on Thursday.
Also in the 1,500, sophomore Chad Noelle placed eight in heat one in 3:42.80 and was the fastest non-qualifier. Senior Patrick Todd placed 11th in his heat in 3:46.95.
In other semifinal action, Megan Patrignelli just missed advancing in the women’s 3,000 meter steeplechase. The junior from Monroe, N.Y., was seventh in her heat in 10:09.83 and was the fastest non-qualifier.
Junior English Gardner placed seventh in her heat of the women’s 200 meters in 23.70 and did not advance.
Dakotah Keys finished competition in the decathlon in 11th place with 7,817 points. The sophomore from Sweet Home, Ore., won the javelin with a throw of 214-3/65.31m. He also matched his PR with a clearance at 16-0.75/4.90m in the pole vault.
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