EUGENE, Ore. – Florida created enough points from the sprints, hurdles and jumps to claim another national title as they accumulated 62 points to win the NCAA Championship at Hayward Field on Friday in front of a crowd of 12,244. It’s the second outdoor national title for the Gators since sharing the 2013 team championship.
“It was really interesting how it happened,” said Florida head coach Mike Holloway. “I told my wife what I thought we could do, and that I thought that we could win this thing. It was just a matter of the kids trusting in themselves.”
Arkansas, powered by the exploits of Jarrion Lawson’s three individual victories, finished as the team runner-up with 56 points while Texas A&M, fueled by a 800m collegiate record from freshman Donavan Brazier, placed third with 50 points.
A pair of wins for Oregon, by Devon Allen in the 110m hurdlers and a 15th NCAA title for Edward Cheserek in winning the 5,000m, assisted the Ducks as they placed fourth with 48 points. LSU swept the relay events on the way to finishing fifth in team scoring with 41 points.
Cheserek withstood another challenge at 5,000m with a winning time of 13:25.59. Stanford’s Sean McGorty (13:26.10) and Patrick Tiernan of Villanova (13:27.07) placed second and third after leading different stages of the race.
“I think it means a lot, but I’ve got one more year to go, so I just want to keep getting more and more,” noted Cheserek. “I knew I didn’t want to take the lead with a long way to go. I was just waiting until the last 200 meters to run it as fast as I could and I just looked back and was relaxed to see that those guys weren’t coming.”
Florida scored 13 points in the 400m behind the winning effort of Arman Hall to place its notice on the team title. Hall clocked 44.82 for the victory over a 45.06 and 45.11 by the LSU pair of Fitzroy Dunkley and Michael Cherry as the Tigers scored 14 points.
Then 18 points followed for the Gators with a 1-2 finish in the 400m hurdles from Eric Futch (48.91) and TJ Holmes (49.31). Eight more points were picked up with a runner-up finish by KeAndre Bates in the triple jump as he reached a distance of 54-10 ¾ (16.73) behind the winning effort from the lone jump of 55-8 ¼ (16.97) by Texas A&M’s Latario Collie.
“I told the guys that we had to ignore all that outside stuff and to believe in each other,” stated Holloway. “I have been talking to Eric (Futch) and T.J. (Holmes) all year long about winning this thing. We are a family and we really picked each other up. We said all year long if it came down to the 4x400, we liked our chances.”
LSU’s challenge for the team title started with a 38.42 victory in the 4x100 as they produced the fastest time at Hayward Field in finishing ahead of Houston (38.44), Arkansas (38.49), Florida (38.54) and Western Kentucky (38.60).
The Tigers equaled the sixth fastest time in a NCAA final while Houston established a school record, topping a 38.53 the Cougars ran in 1982. The Razorbacks, meanwhile, were just off the school record of 38.47 they ran to claim the 2015 NCAA title.
An hour after the sprint relay the anchor leg of those three relay teams faced off in the 100m. LSU’s Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake was in lane 4 with Jarrion Lawson of Arkansas in lane 6 and Houston’s Cameron Burrell stationed in lane 7.
It was Lawson winning in 10.22 over Tennessee’s Christian Coleman (10.23) with Senoj-Jay Givans of Texas (10.25) in third. Burrell placed fourth in 10.26 while Mitchell-Blake, who appeared to strain at the end of the 4x100, finished eighth in 12.05.
Lawson, who won the long jump on Wednesday, captured his third title with a comfortable time of 20.16 in the 200m over Coleman (20.26) and Brendon Rodney (20.39) of LIU Brooklyn. Lawson’s three individual titles are one shy of the meet record set by Ohio State legend Jesse Owens (4) in 1936.
“I came in expecting to win three events,” said Lawson. “I know obviously that it’s hard, but I do all these events because I love doing them and I definitely came here wanting to start off with a win in the long jump, and I knew that momentum would carry over to today.”
Closing out the meet with the 4x400, LSU posted a winning time of 3:00.69 behind an anchor leg of 44.29 by Fitzroy Dunkley. Florida clocked 3:01.12 as runner-up.
In becoming the first freshman to win the 800m since 1988 (Paul Ereng, Virginia), Aggie frosh Brazier passed the 2014 NCAA champion Brandon McBride with 120m remaining in the race. A 27.10 over the last 200m powered Brazier on his way to a collegiate record of 1:43.55. A 1:44.50 placed McBride second with BYU’s Shaquille Walker in third with a 1:45.17.
“I was focusing on winning and getting 10 points for the team,” said Brazier. “I really didn’t know about the collegiate record until the prelims, when I ran the 1:45. It means a lot especially since it was a 50-year-old record.”
Clayton Murphy utilized a solid race plan, and with 60m left in the race passed Washington’s Izaic Yorks and Virginia’s Henry Wynne to secure the win the 1,500m in 3:36.38, the eighth fastest time in collegiate history.
A final lap of 55.84 moved Murphy, the 2015 NCAA 800m champion, in position to pass the leading pair ahead of him. Yorks finished second in 3:38.06 a couple of strides ahead of Wynne, who placed third in 3:38.35.
Michigan’s Mason Ferlic used a fast pace at the middle stage of the 3,000m steeplechase, splitting 66.83, 66.25, 65.01 and 65.73 over four consecutive laps, to pull away from the field. He maintained that advantage through the final lap, with a 69.63 split, and won with a collegiate-leading time of 8:27.16.
A sprint to the finish determined the next two places in the steeple as Frankline Tonui picked up eight runner-up points for the Razorbacks with an 8:30.67 to edge ahead of Edwin Kibichiy of Louisville (8:30.71).
Allen, the NCAA champion as a freshman in 2014, returned to claim a second national title in the 110m hurdles with a time of 13.50 as he led the field throughout. Kentucky’s Nick Anderson (13.67) and Indiana State’s Adarius Washington (13.68) offered the closest challenge.
A 7-4 ½ (2.25) clearance earned USC’s Randall Cunningham the high jump title over Kansas State’s Christoff Bryan, who made it over 7-3 ¼ (2.22). Nebraska’s Nicholas Perry hit a mark of 201-0 (61.27) to edge collegiate leader Sam Mattis of Penn (200-0) as well as Virginia Tech’s Marek Barta (200-0) by one foot.