Air Force’s Zach Perkins Is Surprise Runner-Up
June 8, 2013
Eugene, Oregon – Oregon’s Mac Fleet produced the in-stadium highlight of the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships as he used a blistering kick to pull off the upset win to the delight of the Oregon faithful in the men’s 1,500 this afternoon at Hayward Field.
Heading into the last lap of the tactical affair, Fleet was fourth-to-last, but this race was the ultimate kicker’s race as everyone was still in it. Fleet took the lead on the homestretch and the crowd at Hayward was deafening. Everyone was all-out at the end and Air Force’s unheralded Zach Perkins was right behind him and closing. Had Fleet mistimed it?
Fleet seemed to be the first one in the stadium to realize he was going to hold on as he put his right hand out with his index finger up just before the finish line. Fleet, who was just third in the PAC-12 meet last month, was your NCAA champion in 3:50.25 after a 52.25 last lap. Perkins, who started the year with a 3:53 PR and started the weekend with just a 3:44 PR, ended up second in 3:50.39 (52.56). Oklahoma’s Pat Casey, who came into Eugene undefeated on the year at 1,500/mile but only squeaked into the final, redeemed himself to finish third in 3:50.60 (52.71).
Quick takes, interviews with Fleet, Texas’ Pat McGregor, NC State’s Ryan Hill and Oklahoma’s Pat Casey, and results appear below.
Quick Take #1: While Fleet was only third at the PAC-12s, this win wasn’t a total shock as he is a big-time talent. In high school, he ran 4:02.90 in the mile and then as a freshman in 2010, he was the NCAA runner-up in the mile before struggling with injuries. Halfway through outdoors, he seemed to be back and we declared him our NCAA co-favorite with Casey but then we became scared off when he was only third at PAC-12s.
QT #2: With about 100 meters remaining, Texas’ Pat McGregor got his arm tangled up with a guy behind him and went down hard. Carnage resulted as several people behind him were impacted. The fall, however, had no impact on the winner of this race.
We caught up with McGregor after the race and it was a great interview (embedded below on left). The senior was very emotional and on the verge of tears.
“I didn’t want to fall down. There is 100 meters to go and I’m right there – top three in the NCAA final and I feel great,” said McGregor. “I was very upset. That’s not how I wanted to end my college career at all. I was having the race of my life until 100 to go.”
McGregor is a big fan of the sport so today’s fall was extra tough on him. A few years ago, he even worked a meet in Eugene recording interviews for runnerspace.
“This has been one of my dreams, to be in Eugene, with an opportunity to do well at the NCAA Championships, in the NCAA final. I’ve been watching the NCAA Championships since I was in fifth grade. This sucks to say the least,” said McGregor.
QT #3: We’ve heard that apparently, once the runners hit the finish line, there was some shouting, possibly shoving/punches as people were upset. We have no idea why people would be upset with McGregor as from our vantage point, he did nothing wrong.
McGregor apparently has a reputation for being an aggressive racer so perhaps that had something to do with it, but everyone was flat out, and there was no obvious dirty racing. In our minds, any guys shoving each other after someone goes down in a tactical 1,500 need to get some perspective.
We think McGregor was right on the money when he said the following:
“I don’t think I did anything wrong,” said McGregor. “I don’t think I did anything that was considered reckless. I mean there is 110 meters to go. I was doing what everyone else was doing – sprinting. The reason why I probably fell down is because you have 12 guys who all have great kicks who are sprinting and right next to each other with 110 meters to go. Things can happen. I don’t think I did anything wrong.”
“If there is animosity, then I’m really sorry. I think with people’s gut reaction that (stuff) is going to happen.”
Update: We ran into an NCAA coach at the airport who told us no one would be dumb enough to throw a punch. Video replays do show that Oklahoma’s Riley Masters was upset with McGregor as Masters crossed the finish line, turned around and waited for McGregor pointing at him.
QT #4: The surprise of the race was Air Force’s Zach Perkins. We sought him out after wards to ask how a 4:21 high school performer, who only ran 3:53 last year as a frosh, could finish second at NCAAs as a true sophomore. We nearly had a new addition to the list of:
Since he’s so new to the scene, it was easy to get time with him as no one else went up to him. When we went up to him, he said to us off camera, “Are you the LetsRun.com guys? I love your site.”
Our interview with him is on the right. At the end, he confirms he’s a big fan of the site. We say, “For the record, you are a big fan of LetsRun.com?” Answer: “Yes.” Then we shut the camera off. The Flotrack guys had started filiming the interview and Ryan Fenton, who didn’t know about our earlier exchange with Perkins said something like, “But a bigger fan of Flotrack, right?” Perkins shook his head and said not so much.
LetsRun.com will donate $100 to the charity of Ryan Fenton’s choice if this portion of the Flotrack video appears on the Internet.
QT #5: Third placer Pat Casey was relatively pleased with his performance.
“I feel pretty good actually. I had a rocky race on Thursday, didn’t race very smart. I just kind of went back to the drawing board,” said Casey. “I felt a lot better and had a lot better legs today. I still fell short. Not ideal but did the best I could on the day. Not a bad day I guess.”
QT #6: NC State’s Ryan Hill made no excuses afterwards and said he likely will do the 5,000 at USAs.
QT #7: Defending champ Andy Bayer was impacted by the fall and ended up eighth. Bayer wasn’t happy with his tactics but said he still is optimistic that he’s in good shape and can get top three at USAs.
Interviews with Hill, Casey and Bayer below.
|American||Bernard Lagat – Nike||3:29.30||8/28/2005|
|College Best||Sydney Maree – Villanova||3:35.30||6/6/1981|
|NCAA Meet||Sydney Maree – Villanova||3:35.30||6/6/1981|
|1||Mac Fleet||UO||3:50.25||50.58 (50.58)||1:57.56 (1:06.99)||2:58.04 (1:00.48)||3:50.25 (52.22)|
|2||Zach Perkins||AFA||3:50.39||50.23 (50.23)||1:57.20 (1:06.98)||2:57.83 (1:00.63)||3:50.39 (52.56)|
|3||Patrick Casey||OU||3:50.60||50.11 (50.11)||1:57.12 (1:07.01)||2:57.90 (1:00.79)||3:50.60 (52.71)|
|4||Austin Mudd||WISC||3:50.84||50.40 (50.40)||1:57.33 (1:06.93)||2:58.38 (1:01.06)||3:50.84 (52.46)|
|5||Jeremy Rae||ND||3:51.07||50.05 (50.05)||1:57.04 (1:06.99)||2:57.81 (1:00.77)||3:51.07 (53.26)|
|6||Robby Creese||PSU||3:51.21||50.12 (50.12)||1:57.10 (1:06.98)||2:57.47 (1:00.38)||3:51.21 (53.74)|
|7||Sam McEntee||VILL||3:51.35||50.34 (50.34)||1:57.31 (1:06.98)||2:58.20 (1:00.90)||3:51.35 (53.16)|
|8||Andrew Bayer||IU||3:51.39||50.46 (50.46)||1:57.43 (1:06.97)||2:57.94 (1:00.52)||3:51.39 (53.46)|
|9||Ryan Hill||NCST||3:52.06||50.83 (50.83)||1:57.85 (1:07.02)||2:57.88 (1:00.04)||3:52.06 (54.18)|
|10||John Simons||MINN||3:54.25||50.34 (50.34)||1:57.24 (1:06.90)||2:58.05 (1:00.82)||3:54.25 (56.20)|
|11||Riley Masters||OU||3:55.12||50.51 (50.51)||1:57.36 (1:06.86)||2:57.73 (1:00.37)||3:55.12 (57.39)|
|12||Patrick McGregor||TEX||4:19.82||50.00 (50.00)||1:56.98 (1:06.98)||2:57.68 (1:00.71)||4:19.82 (1:22.14)|
More LRC Saturday Coverage:
LRC Women’s 1500: Oklahoma State’s Natalja Piliusina Weaves Her Way From Seventh To First In The Final 100m To Win
LRC Women’s 3,000m Steeplechase:Emma Coburn Wins Her Second NCAA Steeple Title As Colleen Quigley Gets The “A”
LRC Men’s 5,000: Lawi Lalang Defeats Two Fresh Sub-13:20 Guys To Complete The 10k/5k Double