DES MOINES, Iowa – Brianne Theisen leapt her way into heptathlon history, while English Gardner became the first women’s 100 meter champion ever at Oregon as the Ducks waged a back-and-forth battle with Louisiana State Friday at the NCAA Track and Field Championships.
Oregon also got points from Laura Roesler and Anne Kesselring in the 800 meters, Lanie Thompson in the steeplechase and Phyllis Francis in the 400 meters.
That left the Ducks with 40 points and tied for first with LSU, well ahead of the field, headed into Saturday’s final day.
"I think it’s a little early to start counting points," said Associate Athletic Director Vin Lananna. "It’s going to come down to the last day and probably the last event and every point is going to make a difference."
Theisen completed the second-best heptathlon in NCAA history, winning her third NCAA heptathlon title, and seventh overall, with 6,440 points on Friday.
She opened the second day by setting a personal best in the long jump – her fourth PR of the competition – on her only attempt. Her mark of 20-7.25/6.28m was not only good for 937 points, but it also ranked as the No. 6 long jump in school history.
She then hit her biggest PR yet in the javelin with a first attempt throw of 152-2/46.38m. That was a four-foot personal best that was worth 790 points and was the ninth-best throw in school history.
The senior from Humboldt, Sask., native finished with a relatively easy 800 meters in 2:13.81 to become just the second person in NCAA history to score 6,400 points in a heptathlon competition.
"I couldn’t have asked for a better way to finish my career in my last meet as a Duck," said Theisen. "It’s just been amazing being here with my teammates competing for a national championship. When I was being recruited, I looked at the scores from the NCAA meet and thought it would be great to finish in the top 13.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would win three NCAA titles."
Not only did she attain the triple crown, Theisen became just the third woman in NCAA history to win three heptathlon titles. Jacquelyn Johnson won four for Arizona State (2004, 2006-08) and Jolanda Jones won three for Houston (1986-87, 1989).
Friday, Theisen passed UCLA legend Jackie Joyner-Kersey, who scored 6,390 points at the 1983 NCAA meet, for the No. 2 score in collegiate history. Theisen’s mark stands second to NCAA record-holder Diane Guthrie-Gresham of George Mason, who tallied 6,527 points at the 1995 national championships.
Theisen’s score also was the second-highest in Canadian history, standing behind only Jessica Zelinka’s 6,490 from the 2008 Olympics.
"I’m very glad Brianne came back and won the Pac-12s, won the NCAA indoors, won the NCAA outdoors and is now ready to make the Canadian Olympic team and maybe create some excitement in London," said Lananna.
Gardner was just as impressive in becoming the first-ever NCAA women’s 100 meter champion from Oregon. The sophomore from Voorhees, N.J., was quick out of the blocks and clear of the pack at the 50 meter mark. She then powered home to hold off charges from LSU’s Kimberlyn Duncan and Semoy Hackett.
Gardner won in 11.10, with Duncan second in 11.16 and Hackett third in 11.33.
"I definitely came out there with a lot of fire and intensity," said Gardner. "My start was a little bit better than yesterday. I wanted to stay calm and just trust my training."
The Ducks picked up nine points in the 800 meters with a 4-5 finish from Roesler and Kesselring. Roesler, a sophomore from Fargo, N.D., finished in 2:02.96, while Kesselring, a junior from Nurnberg, Germany, crossed in 2:03.41.
"That was a hard race," said Roesler. "It was my first NCAA final and hopefully I can learn and improve from here."
The women then picked up three unexpected points from Thompson in the 3,000 meter steeplechase. Lurking near the back of the lead pack for much of the race, the sophomore from High Bridge, N.J., moved from 10th to seventh on the final lap, and then, with Theisen shouting her on while awaiting the start of the heptathlon 800, clipped Clemson’s Alyssa Kulik at the line to finish sixth in 10:07.18. That was the best-ever finish in the steeplechase by a Duck woman at the NCAA meet.
Senior Kimber Mattox nearly scored in the steeple as well. The Bend, Ore., native ran ninth in 10:15.16.
The last points of the day came from Francis’ fifth place finish in the 400 meters in 51.79.
In the women’s high jump, Lauryn Crockett had first attempt clearances at 5-7/1.70m and 5-8.75/1.75m before bowing out of the NCAA HJ a 5-10.5/1.79m. The freshman from Ogden, Utah, tied for 17th in her first NCAA appearance.
For the men, Mike Berry ran a thrilling 400 meters and was the runner-up to Florida’s talented Tony McQuay. Berry bided his time and made a charge around the last turn, briefly taking the lead heading in to the straight, but McQuay had just enough to edge ahead and win in 44.58.
Berry was second in 44.75, which broke his own school record for the second time this season and was tied for the seventh-fastest time in Pac-12 history.
"Mike Berry ran brilliantly," said Lananna. "I can’t remember ever seeing a 400 field as good as that one."
In the 800 meters, Elijah Greer was second at the bell lap and made a bold move down the backstretch, but UC Irvine’s Charles Jock countered and won in 1:45.59. Greer, a junior from Lake Oswego, Ore., was third in 1:46.05.
The men wrapped up their NCAA appearance with Trevor Dunbar’s sixth-place finish in the 5,000 meters. The sophomore from Kodiak, Alaska, finished in a personal-best 13:44.16. Sophomore Parker Stinson was 10th in a personal-best 13:58.28, while senior Chris Kwiatkowski was 15th in 14:05.38 in his first NCAA appearance.
The men will finish the meet with 22 points, which was good for fifth on Friday. Florida led with 36.