AUSTIN, Texas – Jillian Weir, Parker Stinson and Matthew Melancon qualified for the NCAA Championships June 5-8 in Eugene and the Ducks were all but perfect in advancing runners through preliminary races – including five in the men’s 1,500 – Thursday at the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds.
Oregon did catch a bad break when Jordan Hasay was unable to advance in the women’s 10,000 meters.
“We talk about the ebbs and flows and highs and lows of championship season and we saw all of that and then some today,” said Oregon head coach Robert Johnson. “You can’t get too caught up in it, because that is how it goes for every team.
“Sure there is some disappointment when things don’t go perfectly, but we will come right back here tomorrow ready to fight and do our best to advance as many people as we can on to Eugene.”
In the men’s 10,000 meters, the final race of the night, Stinson, an Austin native, roamed between third and 10th throughout the race and closed solidly for what appeared to be a top 10 finish – more on that in a moment – before his time, 30:23.10, popped up on the big screen at Mike A. Myers Stadium in 11th place, securing his spot for the NCAA Championships.
Oregon freshman Matthew Melancon finished two spots behind Stinson in 30:27.59, one heart-breaking spot out of the final place to advance to Eugene.
However, following the race, there was some contention as to whether a runner was incorrectly credited with a top 10 finish. Meet officials met late into the night and early Friday morning, it was announced that Iowa State’s Mohamed Hrezi was incorrectly credited with finishing in 10th place. After officials correctly changed Hrezi’s standing to DNF, Stinson moved up one place to 10th and Melancon, a Eugene, native, bumped into 12th and advanced to the NCAA finals in his hometown.
Just prior to that entanglement, Hasay found herself in a fight to survive a brutal women’s 10,000 meter national semifinal. After a plodding first half of the race that left nearly the entire field of 48 packed up, Iowa State’s Betsy Saina took matters into her own hands, sprinting ahead to string out the pack in a matter of a few strides as those brave enough to go with her felt the full force of the sweltering Texas night.
Hasay, a senior from Arroyo Grande, Calif., in only her third career 10,000 meters, ran in third behind the leaders for a couple of laps before the heat got the best of her and she faded to an 18th place finish in 35:51.20.
"I was really feeling the heat out there early in the race, and when the leaders made their break, for whatever reason, I just didn't have any legs,” she said. “I'm obviously disappointed, but I am going to focus on the 5K and do whatever I can for my team."
Hasay will run the national 5,000 meter semifinal on Saturday.
In the women’s hammer, Weir did not have her best stuff on Thursday, but still had enough juice to hit a throw of 200-0/60.96m on her second attempt. The sophomore from Sunnyvale, Calif., competing in her first NCAA meet finished 11th overall, as the top 12 throwers advanced to the national finals in Eugene.
The rest of the day proved exceptional for the Ducks as Oregon advanced an astounding 18 of 19 runners on to the quarterfinals.
The Ducks were impressive in both 1,500 meter races, as five men and both women moved on to Saturday’s quarterfinals.
Four Ducks advanced automatically for the men. Matt Miner, a senior from Ashland, Ore., was the runner-up in heat one in 3:47.32. Senior Patrick Todd took fourth in heat two in 3:46.05. In heat three, Mac Fleet placed second in 3:44.34 and Chad Noelle was fifth in 3:45.37. Colby Alexander made it five Ducks in the final by advancing on time. The sophomore from Strongsville, Ohio, ran sixth in heat two in 3:48.59 and was the last qualifier to advance on time. Freshman Chris Brewer placed 11th in heat three in 4:03.04.
The two women’s 1,500 meter runners advanced easily. Senior Anne Kesslering controlled her heat to win in 4:26.36, while fellow senior Becca Friday finished second to Arizona State’s Shelby Houlihan in heat three. Houlihan won in 4:22.17, with Friday ever so close in 4:22.18.
English Gardner and Jenna Prandini both won their respective 100 meter heats to advance to Friday’s quarterfinals. Gardner, a junior from Voorhees, N.J., exploded out of the blocks and won in 11.08, easily the fastest 100 run on Thursday. Prandini, a freshman from Clovis, Calif., won her heat in 11.44 and then proceeded directly to the long jump where she just missed a PR with a leap of 20-0.5/6.11m. She placed 18th overall, missing the finals by two centimeters.
Laura Roesler was in complete control in winning her 800 meter heat in 2:07.51. The junior from Fargo, N.D., was never challenged in advancing to the quarterfinal. Freshman Annie Leblanc ran her best race of the year in her heat to advance. She was the runner-up in her heat in a seasonal-best 2:06.46.
Oregon also advanced a pair of runners in the men’s 800 meters. Elijah Greer charged to the lead on the back stretch and won his heat in relative ease in 1:48.22. The senior from Lake Oswego, Ore., had the top qualifying time on Thursday. Junior Boru Guyota hung on for third in his heat in 1:48.53 to move on to Friday’s quarterfinal.
In the men’s 100 meters, sophomore Arthur Delaney finished third in his heat in 10.48 to automatically advance to the quarterfinals.
Oregon was able to avoid any drama in the 400. Junior Mike Berry held off the pack late to win his men’s heat in 46.63. Senior Kevin Anding also advanced automatically by finishing second in his heat in 47.14.
For the women, junior Phyllis Francis easily won her heat in 52.91 to advance to Friday’s quarterfinal. Junior Chizoba Okodogbe followed with a runner-up finish in her heat in 53.23 and also moved on.
Earlier Thursday in the field, sophomore Trevor Ferguson has a best long jump of 24-1/7.34 and finished 26th overall.
Freshman Bradley Laubacher cleared two bars, the highest at 6-9.5/2.07m, and tied for 30th overall.
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