Ducks fall flat in title chase
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — So much for the Oregon coronation. Instead, Texas A&M was the school that made track and field history.
Justin Oliver held on for second place as the anchor in the 1,600-meter relay, giving the Aggies the men's team title at the NCAA track and field championships Saturday. Texas A&M also won the women's title, becoming the first school since 1990 to win both outdoor championships.
The Oregon men were seeking a rare "Triple Crown" after winning titles in cross country and indoor track and field earlier this season. Nobody's done that since Arkansas in 1998-99. The relay — the last event of this week's meet — knocked the Ducks out of first place.
"When it got to the 300 mark and I saw I was still second place, I see the finish line, I see the trophy at the finish line waiting on me," Oliver said. "We're the national champions. Texas A&M. No one else. That's all I could say. We did it."
The Aggies finished with 48 points. If Texas A&M had finished one spot lower in the relay, it would have ended up in a four-way tie for the title with Florida, Florida State and Oregon.
The women's finish was less tense. Texas A&M ended up with 50 points, seven ahead of Oregon.
Texas A&M had never won any team title before this week. Coach Pat Henry is in his fifth year there after coming over from LSU. He won 27 NCAA team championships while coaching the LSU men and women, including 15 outdoor titles.
"This one is something we've been working very hard to do," Henry said. "This one is very, very special to me because it's a new one. It's a new championship."
Henry was the last coach to sweep the men's and women's outdoor titles, at LSU in 1990.
Oregon led both team competitions going into Saturday, and the Ducks earned 10 more big points when Andrew Wheating won the 800. Wheating passed Tevan Everett of Texas inches before the finish to win in 1 minute, 46.21 seconds. Everett lunged forward across the finish line and fell down on the other side, but to no avail. He finished in 1:46.27.
"I just wanted the 10 points," Wheating said. "I was just hoping my calf wouldn't rip apart."
That was it for the Oregon men, and Texas A&M made up major ground in the triple jump when four Aggies combined to earn 18 points. Texas A&M had 40 points entering the relay, Florida had 41 and Florida State had 36.
Florida State won the relay in 2:59.99, and Texas A&M's team of Tran Howell, Bryan Miller, Kyle Dykhuizen and Oliver held off Baylor for second.
Florida took fourth. The Gators, Ducks and Seminoles all finished with 46 points.
Florida State made a push on the final day with three wins. Charles Clark took the 200 in 20.55, Jonathan Borlee won the 400 in 44.78, and then the Seminoles won the relay.
"That's a track and field meet right there!" Florida State coach Bob Braman yelled to nobody in particular, as the Texas A&M celebration began.
Florida State had won the last three men's outdoor titles.
The Aggies won the men's title without a single individual champion the entire week. On the women's side, Texas A&M's Porscha Lucas won the 200 in 22.81 Saturday, a day after contributing to a relay win.
"I knew I needed to hold up my end and come out and win this to keep us in the hunt," Lucas said. "I did what I could — I gave it everything I had."
Oregon was the talk of the meet early on. Galen Rupp was as good as advertised, winning the 5,000 and 10,000, but he didn't run Saturday, and the Ducks couldn't score enough for another team championship.
Texas A&M's Yasmine Regis was second in the women's triple jump.
"We knew coming in today that everyone had to do their best, everyone had to do basically what they were doing," Regis said. "We could come away — both teams — with national championships."
Kimberly Williams of Florida State won the triple jump with 47 feet, 21/4 inches. Will Claye of Oklahoma was the men's winner at 56-6¾.
Williams also won a long jump championship earlier in the week.
Tiffany Ofili of Michigan won the 100 hurdles for the third straight year, finishing in 12.96.
D'Andra Carter of Texas Tech won the women's discus with a throw of 182-6.
Ronnie Ash of Bethune-Cookman took the 110 hurdles in 13.27.
Geena Gall of Michigan won the women's 800 in 2:00.80, and Joanna Atkins of Auburn took the 400 in 50.39.
The men's 1,500 went to German Fernandez of Oklahoma State, in 3:39.00. Susan Kuijken of Florida State won the women's title in 4:13.05.
Texas won the women's 1,600 relay in 3:28.51.
Martin Maric of California won the discus with a toss of 196-3.