Another NCAA Championships is in the books and it turns out that the men of Oregon and the women of Texas A&M are really good at track and field. The collegiate championships, a favorite meet among American track fans, features many of the world’s future Olympic medalists. Despite the relatively young age of the competitors, it is one of the world’s most competitive meets every year. This year was no exception, with records falling across all distances.
Oregon won its first outdoor track and field title in 30 years in a dominant fashion and celebrated by throwing coach Robert Johnson into the steeplechase water pit (see image above). The always-dominant distance runners maintained tradition and thrilled the Eugene crowd by scoring in every event longer than 800m and winning the 1500m (Mac Fleet) and the 10,000m (Edward Cheserek). They secured the team title with help in other events, particularly a javelin title from Sam Crouser and a record setting high hurdle run by Devon Allen, a reinforcement from the Duck football team.
Meanwhile, the Texas A&M women won their fourth title in six years, bringing coach Pat Henry to a staggering 35 national track and field team titles. Where Oregon relied on its distance running men, A&M called on its swift moving sprinters and hurdlers to earn the bulk of its points on the women’s side. The Aggies won the 4X100m, finished second in the 4X400m, and took the podium in the 200m and 400m hurdles, along with many other strong finishes in events from the triple jump to the discus throw.
The individual event stories are certainly too numerous to recall here, but this blog would be remiss without mentioning the finales of a few of the greatest runners to ever grace the NCAA. Lawi Lelang of Arizona started his championships with his 8th national title, by handing 10k champ Cheserek his first loss at an NCAA championship, and backed that title up with a close second place in the 1500m. Laura Roesler closed out her University of Oregon career with a dominant victory in the 800m and points in the 4X400m, to bring her collection of All-American awards to 17. Not all of the NCAA greats ended their careers in victory though, as Texas’s Marielle Hall and Stanford’s Aisling Cuffe upset Dartmouth’s Abbey D’Agostino.