WEEKEND RECAP: Morris Breaks the Pole Vault Record & Multi-Event Madness
This is a rundown of some of the biggest highlights of the college track & field weekend, and not a comprehensive weekend recap. For the full breakdown of weekend results, check out the USTFCCCA Meets This Weekend page and TFRRS.org.
It was only ever a matter of time. The women’s collegiate outdoor pole vault record was always going to fall this season, with indoor national champ Sandi Morris of Arkansas and indoor collegiate record holder Demi Payne of Stephen F. Austin both having exceeding the existing record of 15-1½ (4.61m) numerous times indoors.
The only question ever was: who would do it first?
Morris answered that question at Saturday’s John McDonnell Invitational – on the same home campus where she initially broke the indoor collegiate record in January and eventually won her NCAA title in March – with an historic first-attempt clearance of 15-1¾ (4.62m).
Watch that jump below.
— Razorback XC/TF (@RazorbackTF) April 12, 2015
In doing so, she toppled the record previously established by another Razorback: Tina Sutej set the old standard at the SEC Championships in 2011, en route to earning herself an NCAA title and status as a Finalist for The Bowerman Trophy.
She wasn’t the only pole vaulter ascending to historic heights this weekend.
At the Texas Invitational, Payne reached 14-9 (4.50m) for the second weekend in a row, winning by more than a foot. That second-attempt clearance gave her another share of the No. 6 spot on the all-time outdoor collegiate performers list.
Joining Payne in that historic slot for the first time this weekend was Duke’s Megan Clark, who notched a 14-9 (4.50m) clearance of her own, hers on a first attempt at her home Duke Invitational. That tied her career-best from the indoor season, when she jumped that high to finish runner-up to Morris at NCAAs.
All year long, the Year of the Vault has been led by two women – Morris and Payne. Is it now a three-woman race? Time will tell.
Combined Events Take Center Stage at Georgia, Arizona
With all the history that has been made in the pole vault this year – new collegiate records both indoors and out for the men and women – it is deservedly the Year of the Vault.
But what if I told you the pole vault could be supplanted as the most intriguing event of the outdoor schedule?
Consider this. Defending national women’s heptathlon champion Kendell Williams of Georgia scored 5854 to win her national title a year ago. Just one month removed from the NCAA indoor championships, six women have already surpassed that score.
This weekend alone, four women went higher – including one of Williams’ own teammates and a woman from NCAA Division II, both of whom made the all-time collegiate top-10 performers list before Williams.
On Friday, Quintunya Chapman of Georgia posted a collegiate-leading score of 6146 points at the Georgia Bulldog Decathlon/Heptathlon, moving her to No. 8 on the all-time collegiate performers list in the event and drastically improving upon her 5696 career-best from a year ago.
En route to the historic score, she posted career-bests in the 100-meter hurdles, the shot put, the 200, the long jump, the javelin and the 800.
That same day, Salcia Slack of New Mexico Highlands scored 4161 at the Jim Click invitational at Arizona, moving to No. 10 on the all-time collegiate performers list and smashing her own NCAA Division II record by more than 300 points.
She notched career-bests in the 100 hurdles, the shot put, the 200, and the 800.
The victories for both women came over performers who also surpassed Williams’ winning score from a year ago. Finishing runner-up to Chapman at Georgia was Xenia Rahn of North Carolina, who scored 5930 points (No. 6 among collegians in 2015); second to Slack at Slack in the desert was No. 3 Akela Jones of Kansas State at 6049 – in her very first heptathlon, no less.
While the race for the women’s heptathlon title got very tight very quickly this weekend, the opposite is true of the men’s decathlon scene. Competing in his home Georgia meet, Garrett Scantling – who most recently lost the closest indoor heptathlon title competition in history – came back in a big way with a score of 8232.
That performance moved Scantling into the No. 9 spot on the all-time collegiate performers list – bumping defending national champion and teammate Maicel Uibo from the top-10. Uibo did not compete this weekend.
Dykstra Gets Poetic Revenge Win Over Crouser At Oregon’s Pepsi Invitational
Last year, Sam Crouser of Oregon took the NCAA javelin title from Raymond Dykstra of Kentucky – who led from his first throw all the way through the overall second-to-last throw – in the sixth and final round.
On Saturday, Dykstra turned the tables. Crouser took the early lead with a first-round throw of 73.66m, and extended it in the third round to 246-8 (75.19m). He held that lead for nearly the rest of the competition. Nearly.
In the sixth round, Dykstra struck. On his final throw, he heaved 249-1 (75.93m) to take the lead. Like Dykstra a year ago, Crouser had one chance to respond, but couldn’t. He finished with a foul, his second in a row and third of the day.
Chesrek, Jenkins & Goeghegan Cruise to Qualifying Times at 5000 Meters
One weekend after Oregon distance stars Edward Cheserek and Eric Jenkins ran the 10,000 meters at Stanford strictly to acquire qualifying times (they finished 26th and 27th in that race and finished to a smattering of boos as a result) they – along with Will Geoghegan – once again ran to wrap up qualifying times at their home Pepsi Invitational, this time at 5000 meters. This time, those times came in a 1-2-3 sweep for the Ducks.
The three finished side-by-side, with Cheserek taking the win in 14:00.72, followed by Jenkins two-hundredths of a second later and Geoghegan another hundredth after that.
The finish of the men’s 3000-meter steeplechase wasn’t nearly as positive for the Ducks. Per the Oregonian, Tanguy Pepiot thought he had victory in hand, slowing down while making a celebratory gesture toward the home crowd in the closing meters.
In that momentary lapse hidden by the noise of the crowd, Meron Simon of Washing kicked him down and edged him at the line by a tenth of a second in 8:57.86.
Taplin Gets 400 Meters Collegiate Lead at Arizona State
Last year, Deon Lendore of Texas A&M ran 44.90 at Arizona State’s Sun Angel Classic before going on to win the NCAA title in Eugene. Lendore was in the 2015 edition of this race this weekend, but it was teammate Bralon Taplin who put himself on same trajectory as his Bowerman Trophy-winning teammate from a year ago.
In a loss to reigning Olympic Champion Kirani James of Grenada, Taplin ran a career-best 44.89, finishing ahead of Lendore in 45.18 – good for the No. 1 and 2 times in the country this year.
James ran 44.31 for the win.
Standout Performances from Walker and Houlihan at 800 Meters
In that same Arizona State meet, 800-meter prowess was on full display as both Shaquille Walker and defending outdoor 1500 meter champion Shelby Houlihan posted times at or near the top of the national leaderboard.
Walker, a sophomore from BYU, took the win in the men’s race in a collegiate-leading 1:45.78 – a career-best by more than a second-and-a-half. He defeated former Adams State standout Boris Berian by nearly half a second, and leads all collegians in 2015 by just over a tenth of a second.
Houlihan, competing on her home track, took the win in the women’s race in 2:01.92 – No. 2 in 2015 and just .29 shy of the collegiate lead currently held by three-time NCAA champion Natoya Goule of Clemson. It was just shy of the 2:01.12 that earned her seventh overall in the USA Outdoor Championships final last summer.
Orji Takes the Collegiate Lead in Both Horizontal Jumps
While her indoor season didn’t finish the way she’d hoped – she was runner-up in the triple jump at NCAAs after a season’s worth of favorite status – Georgia’s Keturah Orji’s outdoor campaign is already off to a great start.
Competing in her first outdoor meet of her Georgia career at her home Spec Towns invitational, Orji posted a career-best, school-record long jump of 21-8¾ (6.62m) and a triple jump mark of 45-2¼ (13.77m) – both of which moved her to No. 1 on the national descending order lists.
Her long jump mark moved her to the No. 4 spot on the all-time U.S. Junior performers list, and is the best by an American junior (younger than 20 years of age) since Marion Jones in 1994 (per Track & Field News). Her triple jump was the fifth-best ever by an American Junior outdoors.
Meanwhile, her three-time NCAA high jump teammate Leontia Kallenou of Georgia made her debut at 6-2¾ (1.90m) in her 2015 outdoor debut. She’s No. 2 on the list behind Jeannelle Scheper of South Carolina at 6-4¾ (1.95m) from a couple weekends ago. Scheper also cleared the same height as Kallenou this weekend, with hers coming at the Bill Carson Invitational.
Ernest Upsets De Grasse at Jim Click
Andre De Grasse of Southern California has been on quite a tear over the past month. First he ran 20.26 at NCAA indoors to finish runner-up as equal to the third-fastest collegian of all time. He then debuted outdoors at 20.20 at the Florida Relays.
His momentum was derailed temporarily this weekend by LSU’s Aaron Ernest at Arizona’s Jim Click Invitational. Running into a stiff headwind of 2.3m/s, Ernest took the win in 20.56 to De Grasse’s 20.70. With Ernest having finished fourth at NCAA outdoors a year ago and De Grasse the indoor runner-up this year, this is more than likely not the last time these two men will see one another.
Joyce Leads Cal to Dominant Big Meet Win
One of the longest-running rivalries in college track & field, Cal vs. Stanford is known as “The Big Meet”. In leading Cal to a big win, 101-62, junior Thomas Joyce had a big day.
Last June, Joyce ran 3:41.08 to finish 11th in the 1500-meter final at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon – two seconds back of winner Mac Fleet of Oregon. On Saturday, he made up nearly all of those two seconds to set a significant PR of 3:39.43, beating Stanford frosh Sean McGorty by more than a second for the win and the collegiate lead.
Joyce wasn’t done there. Though 3000 meters isn’t a distance contested at the NCAA Championships outdoors, Joyce still took the win and the collegiate lead in the event. He ran a career-best 8:00.50 to beat Stanford’s Jack Keelan (another Cardinal frosh) by half a second.
In the women’s meet, Cal took a commanding team victory, 111-49.
Price Defeats Hammer Throw Collegiate Leader Pleger at Tennessee
In late March, DeAnna Price of Southern Illinois established the early-season hammer throw collegiate lead at 218-0 (66.44m), only to have it topped by more than a meter with Brooke Pleger of Bowling Green throwing 222-4 (67.77m) the following weekend.
While Price couldn’t reclaim the No. 1 rank this weekend at the Tennessee Sea Ray Relays, she did take down Pleger in a head-to-head match-up. Both finished behind pro Gwendolyn Berry (67.83m), but three times Price threw farther than Pleger’s best of 209-8 (63.92m). Price’s farthest was a 220-8 (67.25m) on her fifth attempt, but also went 64.76m and 65.25m.