May 12, 2012
EUGENE, Ore. – The Arizona State University track and field teams opened up the first day of the inaugural Pac-12 Championships to the tune of three conference champions on Saturday at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.
Through eight events, the No. 5 men currently sit fifth after the first day of competition with 33.50 points while the No. 10 women are fourth through seven events with 38 points. UCLA leads the men’s competition with 45 points while Oregon is the team leader on the women’s side with 46 points.
Junior Jordan Clarke got things rolling for the Sun Devils, overcoming a shaky first two throws to defend his title in the men’s shot put as he came just shy of his career outdoor best with a mark of 19.86m (65-02.00) on his final attempt.
Clarke, the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Champion in the event, was second through the first two rounds after a bad first throw and a foul but took the lead and never looked back during the third round with a throw of 19.36m (63-06.25). Clarke will return to the field tomorrow as he looks to score in both the hammer and discus throw events.
Not to be outdone, sophomore Anna Jelmini pulled off what may have been the upset of the day with her own shot put victory for the women with a best throw of the day of 17.19m (56-05.75) in the shot put to unseed the NCAA’s top-ranked Alyssa Hasslen of Arizona. The mark also moved Jelmini to eighth in the nation in the event and she will enter tomorrow’s discus competition as the favorite as well.
ASU got some much-needed points on both the men’s and women’s side in the event as Nathan Estes went against the form chart with a seventh-place finish and a throw of 16.10m (52-10.00) while freshman Alex Hartig had a career-best day on the women’s side with a throw of 15.68m (51-05.50) to take fourth overall and the eighth best throw in ASU history.
The most exciting and dramatic competition of the day came in the women’s long jump. The first shocker came as the conference’s top-seed, Christabel Nettey, fouled out of the prelims for the Sun Devils, leaving only Constance Ezugha to battle it out in the finals for the team.
Ezugha was consistent through the first five rounds, posting marks of 6.21m, 6.24m and 6.25 meters to find herself in fourth heading into the final round. There, Ezugha launched herself 6.45m (21-02.00) to move all the way into first and she held on through the final three jumps to take her first-ever conference title.
For Ezugha, the jump was good for a tie for fifth in ASU history in the event as well as moving her into 11th in the nation.
In other final events on the day, sophomore Derick Hinch scored a runner-up finish in the pole vault in his first career Pac-12 Championship, clearing 5.34m (17-06.25).
Also in the vertical jumps, sophomore Bryan McBride returned to the high jump runway after almost a month-long absence to finish in a tie for fourth overall with a best jump of the day of 2.17m (7-01.50).
Cj Navarro opened the scoring for the Sun Devils with two points in the women’s hammer throw, taking seventh of her final throw of the day with a mark of 58.76m (192-9) – the third-best throw of the senior’s career.
A number of Sun Devils also advanced to tomorrow’s finals through the prelim rounds on Saturday afternoon, and maybe none so prominent as the men’s sprints
The Sun Devil men advanced three to finals of the 100-meter dash. Chris Burrows earned an automatic qualification in winning his heat in 10.44, edging teammate Ryan Milus’ 10.45 in the same heat. Milus advanced to the final on time along with Daniel Auberry, who posted the fourth-fastest time of the prelim round in 10.38.
In the men’s 200, Burrows took his second heat of the day with a victory in his heat in 20.72 as he led a 1-2-3 sweep in the heat ahead of Auberry (20.95) and Milus (21.17). Auberry would eventually advance on time while Milus just missed out.
The Sun Devils nearly added even more to their sprint tally as Rashad Ross was the first man out in both the 100 and 200, after clocking times of 10.47 and 21.01, respectively, and finishing ninth in both heats.
Auberry, Ross, Borrows and Kelsey Caesar also advanced the men’s 4x100-meter relay team into tomorrow’s final with the fastest time of the qualifying round in 39.77.
As if that weren’t enough, ASU also moved on two in the 400-meter dash as Will Henry (47.04) and Kelsey Caesar (47.16) clocked the fastest time qualifiers of the prelim round to move to tomorrow’s final.
Rounding things out for the men’s sprints, hurdles and relays was Cameron Taylor earning a qualification to tomorrow’s final with the sixth-fastest prelim time in 14.43.
In the women’s sprints and hurdles, sophomore Asiah Gooden took the final qualifying spot in the 100-meter dash with a career-best time of 11.67 to advance to the finals tomorrow.
In the women’s 400-meter hurdles, junior Keia Pinnick recovered after a tough outing in the long jump to take the sixth qualifying spot with a time of 58.68 in the preliminary round.
Freshman Shelby Houlihan cruised in the 800-meter run as she clocked the third-fastest time of the qualifying round in 2:07.22 to win her heat and move on to tomorrow’s final.
The Sun Devils return to action at Hayward Field tomorrow with the women’s discus set to go at 10:45 a.m. PST and to open the field events with the running events kicking off with the 4x100-meter relay final at 1 p.m.