Track and Field: Oregon women win 7th title in 8 years; Texas A&M men claim first-ever title
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Oregon scored a record 84 points to win the women’s team title, and Texas A&M’s men captured their first indoor team win with a thrilling 4x400m relay victory Saturday at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships at the Gilliam Indoor Stadium.
The loudest roar of the meet came in the final seconds of the final event when A&M’s Mylik Kerley passed Florida’s Ryan Clark off the final bend and carried the Aggies to a meet record 3:02.80 to earn a crucial 10 points. Coming into the last event, A&M needed to finish first or second and ahead of the Gators to seal the win. Fred Kerley, the elder Kerley brother, ran the lead leg in 45.08, and passed the baton to Robert Grant, who split 46.49. Freshman Devin Dixon put the Aggies back in contention with a 45.84 third leg before Mylik Kerley’s 45.39 anchor.
In the space of 90 minutes, Oregon’s women scored 59 points and won four events, passing runners-up Georgia in the point standings after the 200m as the Ducks claimed their second straight national indoor crown, and their seventh out of the past eight.
RECORDS FOR COLEMAN, USC WOMEN
Only two men had previously won the 60/200 double at the NCAA indoor championships before Christian Coleman of Tennessee added his name to that list. Blasting out of the blocks, Coleman was never challenged as he sped to a meet record 6.45 in the 60m. Coleman tied the collegiate record, which has stood since 1999, and matched the fastest time in the world this year. Less than two hours later, he came within .01 seconds of the collegiate and meet record in the 200, romping to a 20.11 that made him the third-fastest man in indoor history at the distance.
Two teams ran faster than the previous collegiate record in the women’s 4x400m relay, with USC edging Oregon 3:27.03 to 3:27.07. Kendall Ellis gave the Women of Troy a 51.18 anchor carry, which was just enough to stave off the challenge of Oregon’s 800m champion, Raevyn Rogers, who split 51.16. Texas A&M was third in 3:28.36 to become the fifth fastest school in collegiate history.
CHESEREK, WILLIAMS CHALK UP HISTORIC WINS
Collegiate record holder Edward Cheserek of Oregon had won 16 NCAA titles coming into the men’s mile, but Josh Kerr of New Mexico beat him at his own game with a blistering kick to grab gold in 4:03.22. After a very slow early pace saw the field bunched up, Cheserek made a bold move with three laps to go, sprinting to the lead. Kerr stuck with him and went past over the final 200m, covering the lap in 26.68 for the win. Cheserek became the all-time NCAA scoring leader with his second-place effort, finishing in 4:05.42.
Two hours later, Cheserek took his total to 17 by winning the 3000m in 7:55.91. Running right behind teammate Matthew Maton for the first mile, Cheserek moved to the front after that and never gave up the lead again. Justyn Knight of Syracuse gamely tried to close the gap, but ended up second in 7:56.21.
Devon Williams of Georgia matched the victorious efforts of his sister, Kendell, in yesterday’s pentathlon, scoring a lifetime-best 6,177 points to win the heptathlon as the pair became the first brother-sister winners of the multi-events in meet history. His score is the fourth highest ever by a collegian.
Williams needed a yeomanlike run in the final event, the 1000 meters, and he got it with a 2:41.26 to overtake Kentucky’s Tim Duckworth, who had a 224-point lead heading into the final event. Duckworth ended up second overall with 6,165 points.
16 OTHER INDIVIDUAL GOLDS AWARDED
The finish in the women’s dash wasn’t quite so easy to pick as the men’s, with Oregon’s Hannah Cunliffe inching past early leader Javianne Oliver of Kentucky to nab the gold in 7.14, .02 ahead of Oliver. Oregon picked up 20 points in the event, with Arianna Washington third and Deajah Stevens fifth.
Washington and Cunliffe went 1-2 in the 200m, with Washington just missing the collegiate record of 22.40 as she clocked 22.42. Cunliffe crossed the line in 22.53, inches ahead of USC’s Deanna Hill, who was third in 22.54.
A raucous crowd lifted Texas A&M’s Fred Kerley to the third fastest time in collegiate history as the Aggie senior won the 400 in 44.85. Kerley improved on his previous world-leading time of 44.94 in a dominant performance that gave him an almost seven-tenths margin over silver medalist Michael Cherry of LSU. Kerley’s brother, Mylik, won bronze for A&M in 45.75.
Karisa Nelson pulled away from the rest of the field over the final 40m to win Samford’s first NCAA indoor title, taking the gold in the women’s mile at 4:31.24. Kaela Edwards of Oklahoma State had the lead over the first two laps before yielding to Grace Barnet of Clemson. After Edwards retook the lead for one circuit, New Hampshire’s Elaine Purrier popped into the front spot and stayed there until Nelson’s winning push, ending up second in 4:31.88.
Already the fastest 400m woman in the world in 2017, Miami’s Shakima Wimbley improved on her time with a 51.07 to beat USC’s Kendall Ellis by only seven thousandths of a second. Ellis, who was also awarded a 51.07, stalked Wimbley over the final 100m and moved up on her shoulder in the last 10m but couldn’t pass her.
Freshman Grant Holloway gave Florida 10 points in the men’s 60m hurdles, winning decisively in 7.58. Four women dipped under eight seconds in the 60m hurdles, and it was Oregon’s Sasha Wallace who came out atop the podium with a 7.90 to hold off Purdue’s Devynne Charlton, second in 7.93.
Defending high jump champion Trey Culver of Texas Tech cleared 2.26m/7-5 on his first attempt to make it a hat trick for the Red Raiders, who have won three straight NCAA indoor titles in the event. Kyle Landon of Southern Illinois was leading through 2.23m/7-3.75, but missed on his first try at 2.26m and had to settle for silver after going clear on his second attempt.
After a dream summer that saw her set an American record and place fourth in the Olympic Games, Georgia’s Keturah Orji needed only one attempt to defend her triple jump title. Orji opened with a 14.11m/46-3.5 and added a 14.08m/46-2.5 in round two before passing on her final four tries.
Cincinnati’s Annette Echikunwoke took the lead in the women’s 20-pound weight throw for good with her first attempt, lofting the ball 21.87m/71-9, and she improved her lead with her final throw of 22.42m/73-6.75 to give the Bearcats their first-ever women’s NCAA indoor gold.
Reigning champion Raevyn Rogers of Oregon and Texas A&M freshman Jazmine Fray traded the lead in the women’s 800m, with Rogers in front through the first lap, and Fray pulling the field through 400m in 59.94. Fray, who set the collegiate record earlier this season, continued to take the pace through 600m in 1:31.17, but Rogers passed her midway through the final lap and pulled away to win in 2:01.09. The men’s 800m title went to UTEP freshman Emmanuel Korir in 1:47.48.
In her second gold medal performance of the meet, Colorado’s Dani Jones raced to the win in the 3000m in 9:09.20, outkicking 5K champion Karissa Schweizer of Missouri. Schweizer led into the last 200, with Jones, who anchored the Buffs to distance medley relay gold last night, lurking in third. Jones had the most left over the last 50m and relegated Schweizer to the silver with a 30.81 final lap.
The eighth Arkansas man to win triple jump gold at the NCAA indoor championships, Clive Pullen defended the title he won in 2016, bounding 16.82m/55-2.25 in the first round to establish an unassailable lead, and improving to 16.86m/55-3.75 in the last stanza. Long jump winner KeAndre Bates of Florida was second with a best of 16.62m/54-6.5.
LSU’s Johnnie Jackson led from his first attempt in the 35-pound weight throw and came away with the gold after a 22.88m/75-0.75 in round two. Grant Cartwright of Michigan challenged with a 22.70m/74-7.75 in the third stanza but couldn’t surpass Jackson.
Clearing a personal-best 4.45m/14-7.25 on her first attempt, Lakan Taylor won Alabama’s first NCAA pole vault gold. Baylor’s Annie Rhodes had to take three tries to clear that height and finished second.