WEEKEND RECAP: Bromell, Stigler, and the Year of the Vault
NEW ORLEANS – We’re waiting another week for the first regular-season edition of the NCAA Division I National Team Computer Rankings to allow more teams to make their transition from the indoor season into the great outdoors.
In the meantime, take a look at some of the biggest highlights of the first nationally significant weekend of outdoor competition since the conclusion of the indoor season earlier this month.
This is not a comprehensive list of everything that went on this weekend. For the full breakdown (including results from the Florida State Relays and the Raleigh Relays), head over to TFRRS.org for the full slate of results. You can also check out the best wind-legal marks (2.0m/s or less) of the weekend in each event here.
Trayvon Bromell’s Phenomenal 2015 Outdoor Debut
Three weekends ago, Trayvon Bromell made history at 200 meters with his NCAA Indoor title. He kept that historic momentum going in a big way in his 2015 outdoor debut at the Texas Relays.
After running a wind-legal 10.02 in the prelims on Friday, he dropped an incredible 9.90 (albeit windy at 3.3m/s) in the final to win by two-tenths of a second. That’s equal to the 10th-fastest time in collegiate history in all conditions.
Shavez Hart of Texas A&M was second in 10.10. In a separate race, indoor 60-meter champion Ronnie Baker of TCU ran 10.02 in a similar 3.3m/s tailwind.
Michael Stigler’s All-Time-Fast 400-Meter Hurdles Win
Michael Stigler of Kansas has probably been anxious to get back onto the outdoor track, after finishing his 2014 with an upset loss at the NCAA Championships to Nebraska’s Miles Ukaoma in his signature 400-meter hurdles event.
If his season debut at the Texas Relays is any indication, upsetting him in 2015 will be a difficult prospect.
— Kansas Track & Field (@KUTrack) March 28, 2015
The senior – twice an outdoor runner-up with a sixth-place finish as a frosh – ran 48.44 to win by a full second over Keyunta Hayes of UTSA and second-and-a-half over Florida’s Eric Futch.
That 48.44 race puts Stigler just .03 outside the all-time collegiate top-10 performers list and is the fastest time the USTFCCCA could find by a collegian in the month of March. For reference, when Florida’s Kerron Clements ran his collegiate record 47.56 at the 2005 NCAA Championships, he did not run faster than Stigler’s time this weekend until a 48.29 at the SEC Championships final.
In the prelims, Desmond Palmer ran the fastest qualifying time at 49.59 to Stigler’s 50.41. Palmer was one of six men in the final to run between 50 and 51 seconds.
Shawn Barber and Sandi Morris Bring the Year of the Vault Outdoors
The Year of the Vault has officially arrived in the outdoor track & field season. Shawn Barber of Akron cleared 19-4¼ (5.90m) on his second attempt in the Texas Relays Elite pole vault to move to a share of the No. 2 spot on the all-time outdoor collegiate performers list.
That mark ties Jacob Davis’ Texas Relays record from 1998 and is the best outdoor vault by a collegian in the month of March by .09 over two-time NCAA champ Sam Kendricks, whom Barber defeated by 10 centimeters this weekend.
Back in third place, Tennessee’s Jake Blankeship cleared 19-¼ (5.80m), marking the first time two collegians have vaulted 19 feet or higher in the same competition in outdoor history.
In the women’s competition, NCAA indoor champion Sandi Morris of Arkansas cleared 14-11 (4.55m) to take the tie-break win over pro April Steiner-Bennett, while Stephen F. Austin’s Demi Payne – the indoor collegiate record holder – was third at 14-7¼ (4.45m).
Payne appeared to have been bouncing back nicely from her no-height at the NCAA Indoor Championships with first-attempt clearances at 4.35m and 4.45m before missing three times in a row at 4.55m. Morris needed two tries at 4.45m but was over 4.55 on her first try before missing a trio of attempts at 4.60m.
Morris moved to the No. 4 spot on the all-time collegiate outdoor performers list with a share of the fifth-highest clearance in outdoor collegiate history.
Jacorian Duffield Soars to New Heights
— Blake Zimmerman (@BlakeZ_TTU) March 29, 2015
Trayvon Bromell (see above) isn’t the only man from a school in Texas who has parlayed an NCAA Indoor Championships title into an exceptional outdoor debut. Texas Tech high jumper Jacorian Duffield went 7-7 (2.31m) at the Texas Relays after winning the NCAA indoor title just a few weekends ago.
That mark is a career-best by two centimeters – breaking the previous career-best he set at the NCAA Championships in mid-March.
He did so by outjumping Wally Ellenson of Marquette – last year’s outdoor runner-up and the third-place jumper a few weekends ago – by 12 centimeters. That left him just two centimeters shy of the all-time collegiate top 10 list.
Arkansas’ SMR Goes Historically Fast
The sprint medley relay’s not a terribly common event – it’s not part of the NCAA Championships program and is most often run at large relay meets. This weekend at the Texas Relays, the Arkansas women posted a performance especially uncommon in the event’s history. The Razorbacks ran 3:42.36 at the Texas Relays for the third-fastest time in collegiate history, surpassing runner-up Florida by nearly two-and-a-half seconds.
The foursome of Taylor Ellis-Watson, Sparkle McKnight, Daina Harper and Chrishuna Williams superior in collegiate history to every team except for the record-holding 2004 Tennessee women (3:41.78) and the 1988 Texas women (3:41.97).
Irena Sediva Upsets Defending Javelin Champion
The outdoor season is still very young, but we’ve already had an upset of a defending national champion in the women’s javelin. Florida’s Fawn Miller won the 2014 national crown, but she finished just sixth at the Texas Relays at 172-8 (52.62m).
The winner (among collegians, at least, as pro Kara Winger took the win)? Irena Sediva of Virginia Tech, who was competing in just her second meet in a Hokie uniform, finished second overall behind Winger with a throw of 188-2 (57.35m). That throw leaves her less than half a meter shy of the all-time collegiate top-10, and – despite it being very early in the season – she is just six centimeters shy of her career-best from 2012.
Alex Gochenour Post Impressive Heptathlon Despite Javelin
From a tale of the javelin boosting an athlete to the top of the collegiate leaderboards, we transition to a story of an athlete who posted a collegiate-leading mark despite a sub-par javelin effort.
Late last week, Alex Gochenour of Arkansas took the win in the Texas Relays heptathlon with a score of 6027 points with career-bests in five of the seven components (and a near-PR in one other), though several were wind-aided. With 4691 points through five events, she looked to be on pace for an all-time top-10 collegiate score.
But it was that sixth event that tripped her up. She managed just 102-2 (31.14m) in the javelin for 498 points, which was nearly seven meters shy of her career best, or approximately 22 feet.
The upside for Gochenour? Completely remove that javelin from her score and she still checked in with 5529, which is seven points better than her previous career-best of 5522 from a year ago.
Another upside: her 6027 points were well ahead of the 5854 scored by 2014 NCAA Champion Kendell Williams of Georgia in her national win a year ago. Also surpassing both Williams’ winning mark and the 6000-point barrier was Texas A&M’s Jenna Hemann at 6002 points.
Ironically, it was the javelin that propelled the Aggie to her lofty score, going 160-1 (48.80m) for 837 points – better than the rest of the field by nearly 200.
Shelby Houlihan Drops 4:14 for her 2015 Outdoor 1500 Debut
Who says you can’t run fast in smaller meets? Running on her home track in the Pac-12 vs. Big Ten Invitational, defending 1500 meter national champ Shelby Houlihan of Arizona State went 4:14.35 for the collegiate lead by four-and-a-half seconds.
She defeated Brook Handler of Michigan by just over five seconds and third-place teammate Kate Penney by more than 10 seconds. Incidentally, Handler is no stranger to decisive losses to NCAA Champions in the mile or its metric equivalent. She was part of a chase pack in the Big Ten indoor championships mile that was torched by nine seconds by eventual NCAA champ Leah O’Connor of Michigan, and she finished runner-up to O’Connor earlier in the season by more than eight seconds in the Michigan-Michigan State dual.
The Continued Rise of Collins Kibet
Last May, Collins Kibet ran his first 800-meter race as an Arizona Wildcat, an unspectacular 1:50.08 in a dual meet win with Arizona State and Northern Arizona. Less than a year later, he’s opened up his 2015 outdoor season with another win – this time with a more nationally significant performance in the Pac-12 vs. Big Ten Invitational.
The sophomore went 1:46.87 for the early-season collegiate lead, defeating Indiana’s Daniel Kuhn by nearly a full second. He sits atop the national list by nearly two-tenths of a second over Jesse Jorgensen of Washington State.
Making Kibet’s performance noteworthy isn’t just the reading on the clock this past weekend, but also the stark improvement he’s experienced over the past year. He finished last season with a PR of 1:49.19, but twice ran faster than that this indoor season at 1:48.99 and 1:48.85. With his two-second career-best this weekend and an entire outdoor season left to go, we’ll see how low
McReynolds, Barber and Pledger Go Sub-13 in Texas Relays 100H
Though a 3.7m/s tailwind at the Texas Relays kept them off the weekend’s top performers list in the 100-meter hurdles, make no mistake that Baylor’s Tiffani McReynolds, Notre Dame’s Jade Barber and Texas Tech’s Le’Tristan Pledger are among the country’s fastest collegians.
McReynolds, a three-time NCAA indoor 60-meter-hurdles runner-up, didn’t have any remaining eligibility to compete on the indoor circuit this past year, but she’s back for one final outdoor campaign. She took the win in Austin in 12.75, while Barber was runner-up in 12.81 and Pledger cracked the 13-second barrier in 12.99.
DeAnna Price and Raven Saunders Impress in 2015 Outdoor Throws Debuts
Among those in the throwing community, all eyes that were watching the Southern Illinois Bill Cornell Spring Classic were most likely fixed upon frosh shot put star Raven Saunders, who was competing outdoors for the first time since claiming the NCAA Indoor crown.
While Saunders performed well – she took the early collegiate lead with two heaves of 58-1 (17.70m) to take the win among collegians by more than seven feet over teammate DeAnna Price, it was Price who ultimately left with the bigger headlines.
In the hammer throw, Price uncorked a PR heave of 218-0 (66.44m) for top collegiate honors by nearly 10 meters over teammate Sophia Lozano, and the top spot on the collegiate list by more than three meters. No. 2 on the early 2015 hammer throw list? That’d be defending NCAA champion Julia Ratcliffe of Princeton, who is the fifth-farthest thrower in collegiate history.