Wheating, Eaton electrify crowds
June 12, 2010
By Doug Binder, Special to NCAA.com
EUGENE, Ore. - Andrew Wheating earned a measure of payback against sensational freshman Robby Andrews in a stirring 800 meters final, and Ashton Eaton set a championships record on the way to his third consecutive decathlon title on Friday at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field.
Wheating, an Oregon senior and 2008 Olympian, defended his home turf and won the 800 for the second year in a row.
In one of the most anticipated races of the championships, Wheating executed his race plan with precision, moving to the front with 200 meters left and accelerating over the final 150 to pull away and win in 1 minute, 45.69 seconds.
Andrews, who used a devastating kick to beat Wheating at the NCAA Indoor meet and on the final leg of the 4x800 at the Penn Relays, couldn't make up the gap and was hard-pressed to grab second in 1:46.83.
"I was more nervous for this race than any in a year and a half, because I'm 0-2 against Robby," Wheating said. "He's a great competitor, a great athlete, and I knew he was coming after me."
Andrews, of Virginia, was gracious in defeat.
"Andy, he was the class of the field by far," Andrews said. "I tried to make my move with 100 to go, and he was already half way down the homestretch."
A record third-day crowd of 11,972 watched Friday's action.
Wheating's teammate, Ashton Eaton, capped his college career by becoming the first athlete to win three decathlon titles in a row at the Division I national meet.
Eaton fought through the last lap of the 1,500 meters, trying to break the collegiate record held by Trey Hardee of Texas but came short of Hardee's point total. Eaton finished with 8,457 points. Hardee's record is 8,465.
Eaton had to settle for the NCAA meet record and school record.
"I wanted it bad, I really did," Eaton said. "I know that Trey is somewhere pumping his fist, like, 'Yes!' In the end, honestly, I gave everything I had."
Eaton and Wheating gave Oregon's team 20 points, but the Ducks stand fourth going into the final day of competition. Texas A&M (36), Florida (28) and USC (26.5) are currently the top three.
Florida's Jeff Demps won the 100 meters with a wind-aided time of 9.96 seconds. The wind was 2.5 meters per second, over the allowable for records purposes.
"It's whoever wants it more. I knew it (would be) a great race," Demps said.
Rondell Sorrillo of Kentucky was second in 10.09, followed by Luther Ambrose of Louisiana-Monroe in 10.12.
In the 400 meters, Alabama freshman Kirani James maintained his composure on the home straight and won the title in 45.05 seconds. Donald Sanford of Arizona State was second in 45.21 and Joey Hughes of USC was third in 45.23.
"It's a big win for me as a freshman." James said. "This was my first time at Hayward Field and it was incredible. The kind of respect people here have for track, I haven't seen anywhere else."
In the 400 hurdles, South Carolina's Johnny Dutch denied Washington State's Jeshua Anderson (49.31) a third championship with his victory in 48.75 seconds.
"To get second last year (to Anderson) kept me really hungry," Dutch said. "It was all about winning this year."
Said Anderson: "I came off the eighth hurdle not the way I wanted to," he said. "I am not bitter about the second place. I am blessed to be where I am at now. I don't make any excuses. I look forward to our competition in the years to come."
Matt Hughes of Louisville won the 3,000 steeplechase in 8:34.18.
"Ever since I started the steeple I've PR'd by 12 seconds every year since high school," Hughes said. "I think now that I've finally reached what I thought I could race."
In the high jump, Indiana's Derek Drouin cleared 7 feet, 5 inches to win the title over USC's Manjula Kumara Wijesekar and Paul Hamilton of Nebraska.
Walter Henning of Louisiana State, the 2009 runner-up in the hammer throw, threw 238-10 on his final throw to overtake Virginia Tech freshman Alexander Ziegler and win by 15 inches.