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NCAA 2008 Track and Field Championships: Final Day (Saturday) Recap
Florida State got the threepeat on the men's side (Walter Dix got the 200m win), and LSU prevailed in a tight women's battle with Arizona State.
Jason Vigilante's Jacob Hernandez and Leo Manzano got the 800 and 1500m wins, and Hannah England won a super fast women's 1500m.
Cornell's Muhammad Halim won the NCAA triple jump title, giving Cornell and head coach Nathan Taylor with 0 scholarships (LetsRun.com's Rojo is an assistant coach there) its second NCAA title in the event in two years (with 2 different jumpers). Auburn's Cory Martin won the shot put to go with his hammer throw title. Stanford's Erica McLain won the women's triple jump and would have had an American record but it was too windy.
But the highlight in our book was the Jacob Hernandez and Andrew Wheating show in the men's 800, so we'll start with that.
Men's 800: Jacob Hernandez and Andrew Wheating Deliver
The pre-race attention focused on the #3 and #4 ranked runners in the LetsRun.com 800m rankings, Jacob Hernandez, the NCAA leader at 1:45.68, and the 800/1500 wonder kid, Andrew Wheating, who was undefeated this outdoor season at 800 and 1500 (800 pr 1:46.83). They delivered an incredible race on Saturday with Hernandez prevailing by 1/100th of a second as both runners set prs.
As expected, Hernandez led early (despite the very windy conditions) and Wheating stayed in the middle of the pack hoping to make his patented late charge.
Hernandez led at 400 (50.96), but USCs Duane Solomon (3rd at USATFs last year and a member of the US World Champs team in Osaka) was right on his outside shoulder. Wheating was farther back in 7th.
Wheating moved up on the backstretch but Hernandez continued to lead with Solomon on his shoulder. They came off the turn with Hernandez in front, Solomon on his shoulder half a step back, and Wheating five meters back on the rail. It stayed that way until the final 40. Solomon began to fade and just when you thought it was over, Wheating charged at Hernandez extremely fast.
The both leaned at the line with Hernandez tumbling to the track. Hernandez prevailed by the slimmest of margins (.01). If the race had been more one more meter, Wheating would have gotten the win.
Hernandez was the well deserved champ, leading the entire way on a very wind day. Wheating said of the wind, "The wind was huge... It still hasn't hit me how fast I've run." It was a personal best for both runners (a 1.5 second pr for Wheating) despite the wind.
Hernandez said of the finish, "I knew he was coming, so I leaned in .. and momentum took over."
Wheating afterwards was reflective on his race, but all-in-all felt like a winner. He said, "I might have spotted him a little too much, but I don't really care because second is just as good. When you finish right next to that guy, it might as well be first."
Up next for both runners is the Olympic Trials. The third US Olympic spot on paper now comes down to Hernandez and Wheating. Wheating also has the option of running the 1500. He said he'll think about it this week before picking an event for the Trials.
Hernandez's 800m win started a great day for Jason Vigilante's (UT distance coach) Texas Longhorns. Later in the afternoon, Leo Manzano would get the NCAA 1500m title to bookend his career with the 1500m title he won as a freshman.
Hernandez, despite his own impressive credentials, said what a lot of us have come to realize, Leo Manzano is really special. Hernandez said of his teammate, "Actually Leo's on another level. I look up to Leo. I try to model a little bit his attitude and the way he goes about doing things."
Hernandez and Wheating were both full of praise for each other on the track after the race, in the press area after the race, and even seemed to acknowledge before the race their respect for each other. They put on an excellent show for the fans.
Finals 1 Jacob Hernandez JR Texas 1:45.31 10 2 Andrew Wheating SO Oregon 1:45.32 8 3 Duane Solomon SR Southern California 1:45.71 6 4 Elkana Kosgei SR LSU 1:47.34 5 5 Elias Koech SR Texas-El Paso 1:47.85 4 6 Tyler Mulder JR Northern Iowa 1:48.11 3 7 Austin Abbott SR Washington 1:48.46 2 8 Yarrick Kincaid SR Tennessee 1:50.25 1
Men's 1500: Manzano Goes Out How He Started, On Top
Please don't tell us you expected anything different. Texas Leo Manzano dictated and dominated the men's 1500m on Saturday to bookend his career with the NCAA 1500m title he got as a freshman.
It kept him undefeated at 1500 and the mile in 2008, and sets him up well for the Olympic Trials in 2 weeks.
Manzano took the pace out in a respectable 58.83 in the windy conditions.
Things slowed considerably the next lap (2:03.38), but everyone else in the field acted like they were running for 2nd place, as no one attempted to go by Manzano. Things started to heat up the next lap (45 seconds the next 300). Manzano kept the field behind him or on his shoulder as he led at the bell (2:48.65).
The entire 15 person field was still in contention (within 1 second of Manzano) and all hell broke out on the backstretch as people tried to get in position. Stanford's Garrett Heath came up strong on Manzano's shoulder attempting to pass him around the 200m mark.
Manzano held him off and led into the turn. With 100 to go Manzano had a few meter lead, but all but 2 guys in the field were still bunched up behind him.
If you thought Manzano might be tired from leading the entire way into the wind, think again. He showed he's a level above everyone else at the NCAA level as he pulled away the final 100 for a comfortable win in 3:41.25 (52.6 final lap, splits for everyone here). Northern Iowa's hometown hero, Dorian Ulrey, was the big surprise in the pack as he came up for second to the appreciative Iowa crowd. (Ryan of Flotrack emailed us about an interview and we see on their site they say Manzano was the "crowd favorite." In reality, although the crowd was appreciative of Manzano, we think most of them were actually cheering for Ulrey. At first we couldn't understand why they were going nuts with a standing "O", but then we realized Ulrey was in the race and he' run for N. Iowa (he's actually from Illinois), and we think they figured it out (the 2nd biggest ovation of the weekend might have been when N. Iowa's 4*400 made the final)).
Manzano now turns his attention to the Olympic Trials where he will have a little more competition. Manzano showed he was a level above everyone else in the NCAAs this year (he did win the title 3 years ago as a true frosh), but he was pleased to go out with a win after last year's runner-up finish. He said, "It was my last NCAA and collegiate race and I wanted to give the crowd a good show. I went out there and did the best that I could." He added, "I was the guy out there to beat today. I figured if I stayed up front and tried to push guys off me, after awhile they were not going to challenge me as much."
Finals 1 Leonel Manzano SR Texas 3:41.25 10 2 Dorian Ulrey SO Northern Iowa 3:42.56 8 3 Jack Bolas SO Wisconsin 3:42.57 6 4 Craig Miller SO Wisconsin 3:42.67 5 5 Jeff See JR Ohio State 3:43.14 4 6 Garrett Heath JR Stanford 3:43.15 3 7 Darren Brown SR Texas 3:43.25 2 8 Evan Jager FR Wisconsin 3:43.26 1 9 Andrew Acosta SO Oregon 3:43.95 10 David Torrence SR California 3:43.97 11 Kurt Benninger SR Notre Dame 3:44.95 12 Andrew Bumbalough JR Georgetown 3:44.96 13 Andrew Jesien JR Virginia 3:45.30 14 Mark Davidson FR Tulsa 3:46.04 15 Matt Debole SR Georgetown 3:46.25
Women's 1500: Hannah England, Sally Kipyego, and Sarah Bowman Run Fast
Sally Kipyego has shown she is the class of the long distances at the NCAA level the last two years.
She ran the 1500m this year at NCAAs (in addition to setting an NCAA meet record in the 5k Friday night) to work on her speed, and Hannah England and Sarah Bowman should thank her because as a result of Kipyego pushing the pace they were rewarded with huge personal bests (and England her second NCAA title).
Last year's champion Brie Felnagle led at the gun in a quick 64.71 (the early pace would take its toll on Felnagle and she'd finish 9th). The pace slowed the next 300 (1:55.5 at 700), and Sally Kipyego went to the front and began pushing the pace with 2 laps to go. At the bell Kipyego had whittled it down to 5, herself, England, Bowman, Dacia Barr of Arkansas and Felnagle. Felnagle would start to fade with 300 to go and Barr would fade as well but not as badly.Wwith 200 to go it was a 3 woman race between Kipyego (still in front), England and Bowman.
England stayed with Kipyego until the final 50 when England passed Kipyego for the win in 4:06.19, an NCAA meet record.
England celebrated the victory at the finish, and so did Kipyego as she put her arms out like she was the winner (Kipyego said she was surprised by the time and celebrating it. Afterwards she said, "I didn't see that coming. There was no way I was running under 4:10 today. Although I didn't win, I am very happy with the race.").
England got a 6 second pr and an Olympic "A" Standard. For Kipyego it was a 5 second pr and the "A" standard as well (4:07.00 is the standard). Bowman got a 6.5 second pr and just missed the "A" standard.
England was surprised with the time: "I was trying to ignore the lap times... I was really, really surprised (to get the Olympic "A" standard). I was hoping for it maybe when I got home (to Britain)."
Finals 1 Hannah England SO Florida State 4:06.19 10 2 Sally Kipyego JR Texas Tech 4:06.67 8 3 Sarah Bowman JR Tennessee 4:07.50 6 4 Dacia Barr SR Arkansas 4:11.02 5 5 Emily Anderson SO William & Mary 4:14.73 4 6 Nicole Edwards SR Michigan 4:15.00 3 7 Lauren Hagans SR Baylor 4:15.43 2 8 Susan Kuijken JR Florida State 4:17.28 1 9 Brie Felnagle JR North Carolina 4:17.76 10 Keri Bland SO West Virginia 4:18.18 11 Amanda Miller SR Washington 4:20.71 12 Jessica Eldridge SR Oklahoma 4:22.21 13 Elizabeth Maloy SR Georgetown 4:22.66 14 Brenda Martinez SO Riverside 4:24.99 15 Maggie Infeld JR Georgetown 4:27.57
Women's 800: Geena Gall Wins
Becky Horn of Western Michigan led at 400 (51.68) but this race would not be determined until the final 100. With 100 to go 5 women were in contention, Horne, Geena Gall of Michigan, Latavia Thomas of LSU (NCAA indoor champ), Zoe Buckman of Oregon, and Heather Dorniden of Minnesota (2006 indoor champ).
In the end Geena Gall was the strongest and she comfortably held off the charge of Thomas (who was in the worst position of the five with 100 to go). (Last year's Gall's former teammate Katie Erdman finished 2nd in 1:59.35, her teammate Tiffany Ofili would win the 100m hurdles later in the day.)
Gall obviously was pleased with her win. She told the NCAA, "Oh it feels great. You have no idea."
She said of her pre-race plan, "My coach and I wanted me to start kicking with 200 to go because the last two rounds I started kicking with 100 to go. And so when Heather (Dorniden) started to move with 300 to go, I just ran with her and just shifted into another gear that last 100 meters past Zoe Buckman (Oregon) and Becky Horn (W. Michigan). Im just glad I had a lot left."
Finals 1 Geena Gall JR Michigan 2:03.91 10 2 Latavia Thomas SO LSU 2:04.38 8 3 Becky Horn SR Western Michigan 2:04.67 6 4 Zoe Buckman SO Oregon 2:04.69 5 5 Heather Dorniden JR Minnesota 2:05.86 4 6 Phoebe Wright SO Tennessee 2:06.56 3 7 Carlee Clark-Platt SR Brigham Young 2:06.61 2 8 Anna Layman FR Washington State 2:06.93 1
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