Arkansas women take lead at NCAA track & field championships
EUGENE, Ore. -- A pair of collegiate records highlighted the second day of the NCAA Championships in front of 9,027 fans at Hayward Field. Mississippi’s Raven Saunders set the shot put collegiate record with a 63 feet, 5 inch heave while Maggie Malone of Texas A&M broke the javelin collegiate record with an impressive toss of 204 feet.
In the team chase Arkansas produced a pair of winners with senior Dominique Scott in the 10,000 meters and freshman Alexis Weeks in the pole vault. Through six women’s finals the Razorbacks have scored 26 points, placing them ahead of Texas A&M (16), Georgia (13), Oklahoma (12) and Florida (11).
Scott posted a winning time of 32:35.69, the fifth best time in a NCAA final, for the victory over New Mexico’s Alice Wright, who clocked 32:46.99.
Amid rain throughout the pole vault, Weeks only had one miss through five heights she cleared. Her winning height of 14-9 (4.50) enabled Weeks to become the first freshman to sweep both national titles and is the first freshman to claim the NCAA Outdoor title since the initial year the event was held in 1988.
Finishing behind Weeks were a pair of seniors in Miami’s Alysha Newman and Morgann Leleux of Louisiana-Lafayette, who tied for second place at 14-1 ¼.
The previous shot put collegiate record had stood since 1983 when Meg Ritchie of Arizona produced a standard of 62-3 ¾ (18.99). Saunders, who won as a freshman last season with Southern Illinois, also bettered the NCAA meet record of 62-0 ½ (18.91) set in 2013 by Oklahoma’s Tia Brooks.
Malone had a strong challenge for the javelin title from Texas Tech’s Hannah Carson, who placed second with a 200-9 (61.20) toss, as both threw over 200 feet in the completion, marking the first time that has occurred in the NCAA Championships. Malone’s younger sister, Audrey, threw a career best 187-2 (57.06) for third place.
“This has been the most amazing season,” noted Maggie Malone. “Last year was kind of a devastation for me. So, to have my sister here with me and motivate me the whole time I feel blessed. You can’t ask for a better day. I just wanted to score points for my team, last year I didn’t score since I placed ninth.”
The previous javelin collegiate record, which served as the meet record, was 202-10 (61.82) set by Indiana’s Irina Kharun in 2004. Malone threatened the mark in round one with a 201-11 (61.55) opener. In the fifth round Malone unleashed a 204-0 (62.19) effort that also places her fourth on the all-time U.S. list.
A third throwing final of the day had DeAnna Price defending her hammer title and improving her meet record with a winning toss of 234-8 (71.53). Her previous meet record was 234-6 (71.49) from last year. Price dominated the field and bettered the margin of victory she established last season as the runner-up performance was 215-3 (65.61) by Kansas State’s Sara Savatovic.
Within the series for Price she also threw 231-6 (70.57), which is the fourth-best toss in meet history and makes her the only woman in NCAA Championships history to throw for 230 feet twice.
Georgia’s Chanice Porter won the long jump and defeated defending champion Quanesha Burks of Alabama in the process. A leap of 21-10 ¾ (6.67) in the final round moved Porter ahead of the 21-4 ¾ (6.52) that Burks had set in round five.
Amid the first three rounds the pair were tied with identical marks of 21-1 ¼ (6.43), with Burks holding the better back-up mark at that stage.
The culmination of the men’s decathlon produced five scores over 8,000 points, topped by Lindon Victor’s tally of 8,379 points. Victor became the first athlete from Texas A&M to win the decathlon as he battled Wisconsin’s Zach Ziemek (8,300), two-time defending champion Maicel Uibo of Georgia (8,294), Arizona’s Pau Tonnesen (8,103) and Harrison Williams of Stanford (8,032).
“I’m happy that I could follow my brother’s footsteps and win a NCAA title,” noted Victor, whose brother Kurt Feliz (Boise State) won the NCAA decathlon in 2012. “It took every bit of 8,379 to win this title. It was a very competitive field. I’m happy it’s over with and now I’m looking forward to Rio and some rest.”