Observations From Day 2 Of NCAA DI Outdoor Championships

EUGENE, Oregon — Just when you thought the 2016 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships couldn’t get much better, Thursday happened.

The women took center stage at Hayward Field and dazzled during a day with a light drizzle.

Two collegiate records fell, as did one meet record.

We also saw an incredible finish to the decathlon.

Let’s look back at what made Day 2 so special.

Arkansas In Control

Twenty-four hours after the top-ranked Texas A&M men struggled to get through semifinals, the top-ranked Razorback women made sure they wouldn’t suffer the same fate.

Arkansas came to Eugene with a gender-high 21 entries and 11 of those either scored or are in position to score come Saturday, the final day of competition for the women.

Let’s start with those who scored for the Razorbacks on Thursday.

  • Dominique Scott-Efurd made quick work of the 10000 and pulled away over the last 800 meters to win by 11 seconds. Scott-Efurd can complete the distance double on Saturday.
  • Lexi Weeks became the first freshman to sweep the indoor and outdoor pole vault titles in the same season. Weeks is also just the second freshman to win an outdoor pole vault crown.
  • Taliyah Brooks surprised with a third-place showing in the long jump, the day before she is also expected to score in the heptathlon.

As far as those advancing to Saturday’s finals, Taylor Ellis-Watson had her hand in two entries (400, 4×400), while Devin Clark and Jessica Kamilos qualified seventh and third in the steeplechase, respectively.

Redemption — And More — For Saunders

Raven Saunders is back — and that’s bad news for her competition and the record book.

Saunders dominated en route to her second consecutive outdoor shot put title and broke a 33-year-old collegiate record in the process. The Ole Miss sophomore beat runner-up Chase Ealey of Oklahoma State by more than four feet and established a new standard with her final throw of 19.33 meters (63-5).

More importantly, it served as retribution for Saunders as she put her 12th place finish at the 2016 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in the rearview mirror.

"Honestly that loss really motivated me to come out and do the best that I possibly could," Saunders said. "It was hard and took a while to get back on, but honestly I’m feeling like myself all over again."

Saunders put together quite the series on Thursday. After opening with a foul, Saunders got on the board with a mark of 17.30m (56-9¼) and then unleashed two 60-foot throws back to back.

But it was her fifth attempt that crushed the collegiate record that Meg Ritchie set in 1983. Saunders’ heave landed a full foot — and then some — past Ritchie’s mark of 18.99m (62-3¾).

Want to know the crazy part? Saunders didn’t even feel like it was a good throw.

"Technically, I started out OK — but I definitely missed it," Saunders said. "I threw my head, so the shot came off slightly early."

So what’s next for Saunders?

"I don’t know," Saunders said. "We’ll see."

Javelin: 60 Meters Or Bust

Before Thursday, there had never been an NCAA meet where two women threw the javelin farther than 60 meters (196-10).

That all changed after Hannah Carson and Maggie Malone took their first attempts. Carson threw the implement 60.84m (199-7), while Malone one-upped her with a heave of 61.55m (201-11).

Before Thursday, there had only been six throws of farther than 60 meters in collegiate history.

Carson and Malone combined for six by themselves, with Malone notching four herself.

Before Thursday, no woman had thrown a javelin farther than 61.82 meters (202-10). That’s the mark Irina Kharun established in 2004 for a collegiate record.

Malone shattered Kharun’s standard on her fifth attempt, a toss of 62.19m (204-0).

"I was just trying to hit 62 (meters), honestly," Malone said. "My first one, I didn’t know how far it was; I thought it was 57 meters, but I had no idea. I was just happy to get that first one out there then build off of that."

Malone and Carson went back and forth all year long with the collegiate lead, so it’s only right that they put on a show under the bright lights of Hayward Field.

To Victor Go The Decathon Spoils

When the first day of the decathlon ended, nine men tallied more than 4000 points and Wisconsin’s Zach Ziemek — the indoor heptathlon champ — led Texas A&M’s Lindon Victor by a mere 30.

Victor closed the lead to nine points after the 110 hurdles and swung ahead with a Hayward Field decathlon record discus throw of 53.46 meters (175-5), but Ziemek answered in the pole vault to retake the lead. Yet it was in the javelin throw where Victor leapfrogged Ziemek once again and then wrapped up the NCAA title with a PR in the 1500.

When all was said and done, Victor won with 8379 points, good enough for the fifth best score in collegiate history. Ziemek settled for runner-up and the best score in meet history for that finish (8300).

"I knew coming in, it would have to take something special (to win)," Victor said. "Honestly, I thought it would take the NCAA record to win this meet. That’s just the level of competition here."

All told, five men scored more than 8000 points. In fact, Ziemek (second), Georgia’s Maicel Uibo (third, 8294), Arizona’s Pau Tonnesen (fourth, 8103) and Stanford’s Harrison Williams (fifth, 8032) all set meet scoring records for their respective places.

"There are some great athletes out there and a couple of them are going to the Olympics," Ziemek said. "Just being able to compete with them, they pushed me and I pushed them, so it just makes us all better."

Checking The Watch (List)

Here are how the women on the Pre-NCAA Championships Watch List fared on Thursday.

  • Tennessee’s Felicia Brown — Second fastest qualifier in the 200 (22.68). Did not qualify in the 100 (10th, 11.37).
  • Kansas State’s Akela Jones — Did not compete.
  • Texas A&M’s Shamier Little — Fastest qualifier in the 400 hurdles (55.48). Anchored the Aggies’ 4×400 team that finished 12th and did not advance.
  • Michigan’s Cindy Ofili — Second fastest qualifier in 100 hurdles (12.80 ).
  • Texas’ Courtney Okolo — Fastest qualifier in the 400 with the eighth fastest time in meet history (50.48). Anchored Longhorns’ 4×400 team to the No. 1 seed (3:28.37).
  • Georgia’s Keturah Orji — Placed sixth in the long jump.
  • Southern Illinois’ DeAnna Price — Broke her own meet record in the hammer throw with a heave of 71.53m (234-8) and repeated as champion.
  • Oregon’s Raevyn Rogers — Fifth fastest qualifier in 800 (2:03.55).
  • Mississippi’s Raven Saunders — See above.
  • Georgia’s Kendell Williams — Did not compete.