At the conclusion of the second day of the NCAA Track and Field Championships, hosted at Historic Hayward Field, the overall team scores continued to come together as Oregon led both the men (26.0 points) and women’s (19.0) competitions.
Rounding out the top three for the men are Georgia (24.0) and Texas (19.50), while Florida, Boise State, Akron, Texas A&M and Princeton are all tied for second (10.0) in the women’s competition.
Unlike the first day of competition, the weather didn’t hold up. Gusts of wind blew across the track as rain fell at times in spurts.
Oregon put aside their normal uniforms to instead wear throwback kits. The retro look harkens back to the time of Steve Prefontaine with basic yellow coloring and Oregon written across the chest.
The highlight of the day for Oregon was senior Laura Bobek in the women’s discus. Bobek finished third after a monster final throw (184-8). The final result for Bobek was surprising as many had her on the bubble of making the finals.
“I am sad that it is my last year,” Bobek said, “but I am happy to go out this way, scoring points for my team.”
Bobek shattered several records during her series of throws. She set two personal records on her fifth and sixth throws. Her sixth throw, which was her longest of the day, also broke the Oregon school record.
“I have been practicing really well,” Bobek said, “so I felt pretty good coming into the meet.”
With her mark Bobek may have dragged the Oregon women back into contention after there were some concerns about how they would finish after a rough first day.
Joining in Bobek’s success was fellow thrower Greg Skipper. Skipper finished fourth in the men’s hammer with a best throw of 229-3.
“I came in wanting to win, that didn’t happen,” Skipper said. “But I scrapped for some points for the team, which is all that really matters. So I am happy.”
The decathlon also came to a conclusion. Oregon had both their multi-event competitors finish strong. Three-time Pac-12 decathlon champion Dakotah Keys finished in third (8068) while freshman teammate Mitch Modin finished thirteenth (7485). Keys’ final score was a lifetime best for the junior.
Duck fans had mixed emotions after the men’s 110-meter hurdles preliminary round. Both Oregon athletes, Johnathan Cabral and Devon Allen, ran together in the second heat. Moments after the start of the race Cabral pulled up, falling to the track while holding his knee. He went down before the first hurdle.
Allen went on to win the heat (13.52), qualifying for the finals with the third fastest time of the day.
In the men’s 1500 prelims Oregon saw both its competitors move on to the finals. Senior Mac Fleet ran a strong race to claim first (3:45.90) while freshman teammate Sam Prakel was able to sneak his way into second place using the inside lane.
“There wasn’t anything to the outside of me,” Prakel said. “So I knew if the smallest space opened up I could squeeze through it, and that’s what I did.”
As both Ducks neared the line, Fleet turned to point at Prakel, excited to see his teammate move on with him. At the conclusion of the race the two embraced, with Fleet kissing Prakel on his forehead.
“We have been talking to him all year, telling him ‘you are better than you think you are,’” Fleet said. “I train with him all the time, so to see his year progress the way it has is pretty incredible.”
Another nice surprise for the Oregon men was the performance of junior Arthur Delaney, who was able to qualify for the finals in the 200. Delaney finished with the sixth best time in the event (20.71).
While the Oregon women’s 4×400 relay team advanced through the preliminary rounds without any trouble, the men stumbled. After advancing to the final by finishing second in their heat, the team was disqualified after a protest filed by Arizona State. The protest was made on the basis of Oregon committing a lane violation. The final decision on the protest won’t be decided until Friday morning.
The NCAA Championships will continue tomorrow with the third day of competition.
Follow Christopher Keizur on Twitter @chriskeizur