EUGENE, Ore. – Mac Fleet flew to victory in the men’s 1,500 meters as the Oregon men’s and women’s track team took home a pair of trophies Saturday at the NCAA Track and Field Championships.
The women finished third with 43 points for their unprecedented fifth straight top three finish, while the men earned a trophy for the first time in four years, taking fourth with 44 points.
“It was a big push by the men today,” said Oregon head coach Robert Johnson. “It was a big finish and for them to do that was huge.
“(The women) tried their hardest today and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Florida and Texas A&M tied for the men’s title with 53 points. Arkansas was third with 46.5, followed by the Ducks.
Kansas won it’s first ever NCAA women’s title with 60 points, followed by Texas A&M with 44 and Oregon.
The men’s charge to the podium began with Fleet’s victory in the 1,500 meters, one of the more impressive feats of the Championships.
The junior from San Diego, Calif., hid near the back of the pack before making a pair of big moves to win. He galloped up to sixth on the second-to-last lap to move into position to make his impressive charge. With 300 meters to go, Fleet began picking off runners one-by-one before dashing to the lead as he came off the Bowerman Curve.
With the sold out Hayward Field crowd of 11,482 rising to its feet, Fleet crossed the line in a winning time of 3:50.25.
Zach Perkins of Air Force was second in 3:50.39 and Patrick Casey of Oklahoma took third in 3:50.60.
“This is an amazing feeling,” said Fleet. “I came close in the outdoors as a freshman, but it was tough having everything taken away the past two years. It really puts things into perspective on how hard it is to win at this level. Such a fantastic day.
“The first week of September, I had a long talk with a friend looking forward to today. We discussed what I needed to do over the weeks in between to win today. It’s been long months of dedication and focus.”
Sam Crouser added another six points to the men’s total with a third-place finish in the javelin. The sophomore from Gresham, Ore., had a best throw of 239-8/73.07m on his third attempt.
Sophomore Johnathan Cabral then came through with four points in the 110 meter hurdles. The Calabasas, Calif., native finished fifth with a time of 13.41.
“I had a little trouble staying level, but I came and got a fifth place finish. I’m happy with that,” said Cabral. “Going over the last hurdle, I started nicking a couple of people. It was a close race.”
The men closed out their scoring by finishing third in the 4x400 meter relay. The team of Jack Galpin, Arthur Delaney, Kevin Anding and Mike Berry ran 3:03.61, which was the fourth fastest time in school history.
“We wanted to come here to get a trophy,” said Berry. “I knew we had an opportunity. We came out and performed. This is a good place for us. It is a big thing for us to bring a trophy to TrackTown USA.”
The women got just enough points from the two relay teams to finish third in the overall standings.
The 4x100 relay team scored five points for the women with their fourth place finish. The team of Phyllis Francis, English Gardner, Jenna Prandini and Chizoba Okodogbe timed 43.80.
Then the Ducks wrapped up the meet by running fourth in the 4x400 meter relay. Prandini,Okodogbe, Laura Roesler and Phyllis Francis finished in 3:28.24.
The two Duck runners in the women’s 1,500 meters had a tough go of it in their final races in an Oregon uniform. Senior Becca Friday was 11th in 4:20.85, while senior Anne Kesselring, who was in a scoring position, fell near the finish line and was 12th in 4:28.17.
“In big meets like this there are always going to be highs and lows,” said Friday. “Obviously this is a low for me, but I’m still happy for Oregon and what we’ve done here.”
Sophomore Lauren Crockett cleared 5-7.75/1.72m and tied for 19th in the women’s high jump.
“The teams in the 4x400 were really good teams, fourth place is by no means a disappointment for us,” said Roesler.