June 10, 2011
June 8-11 Des Moines, Iowa Drake Stadium
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DES MOINES, Iowa - A massive individual effort from freshman Megan Goethals in the 5,000-meter finals provided a great high note to end the season on for the Husky track and field teams, as their season came to a close today at the NCAA Championships at Drake Stadium. In the final event of the night, Goethals got the women's team on the board with a sixth-place finish, in the third-fastest time in school history.
Goethals, the Rochester, Michigan native and the 2009 Gatorade National Cross Country Athlete of the Year, has come a long way over the past few months, and was coming off a win at the West Prelim meet two weeks ago. As the race went out at a fast pace, Goethals positioned herself well, moving inside and outside to stay up with the lead group. The pace slowed a bit in the middle and with five laps to go it was anyone's race, as half of the twenty-four runners were still engaged up front.
The pace shot off again with two laps to go, and Goethals hung on in about eighth position. Fighting off exhaustion, she continued to push her fastest pace of the night around one final lap and picked off a couple more women to take sixth in 15:47.79. It's the best finish ever by a Husky woman in the 5k at NCAAs, topping Tara Carlson's eighth-place effort from 1996.
"I'd just been feeling really strong and all the workouts had been going really well. The plan was to not lead but go off the pace and I'm pretty good at closing, so just hold on those last couple laps," said Goethals. She said her goal was top three, but smiled and said "I'm still happy with sixth, though!"
"Each race this year I felt like I've been getting stronger and learning a lot about college racing. It's a lot different than high school," she said. "I think I keep learning how to take better care of my body. I've really progressed a lot under Metcalf, J.D., and Lauren; they're great at what they do."
Goethals also got the women's team on the scoreboard, gaining three points for the Dawgs. The Husky men's team will finish with 11 points, which is currently tied for 14th but UW will have to wait on Saturday and see if they will remain in the Top-25, which would mark a sixth-straight Top-25 finish for the men.
Heading to the NCAA West Prelims two weeks ago in Eugene, sophomore pole vaulter Logan Miller was ranked 63rd in the NCAA, and 36th in the West with her season-best mark of 13-0 ¾, a mark which was set at the Pac-10 Championships where Miller finished eighth overall. Fast forward to today, and Miller fell just one bar short of scoring at the NCAA Championships, as she battled the rain, wind, and weather delays to place 11th overall at nationals and earn All-America Second Team honors.
Miller, the Reno, Nevada native, wasn't even supposed to be here. But she jumped to three outdoor PRs at the preliminary meet in Eugene to grab one of twelve qualifying spots to weeks ago, raising her PR five inches to 13-5 ¼. Based on the entry marks to prelims, Miller was the lowest-seeded athlete to advance to Iowa.
But with assistant coach Pat Licari in her corner, who just collected his sixth NCAA title on Wednesday when Scott Roth won the men's vault, Miller was not here to just make an appearance. Momentum can play a huge role in the vault, and Miller obviously had that.
She entered at the first bar, 12-9 ½, and cleared it easily on her first try. Things got tougher at 13-1 ½, but Miller came through with a clutch third attempt clearance as the field started to dwindle. The bar then went to 13-5 ¼, matching Miller's personal-best, but in difficult conditions. Miller missed her first two attempts again, and then came through again with her season on the line, grazing the bar and causing it to wobble, but it stayed on and Miller moved on.
The bar took another big step up to 13-9 ¼, the first time Miller has ever jumped at that height in competition. She had solid attempts but there wouldn't be another third attempt clearance this time around, and she settled for 11th-place, while tying for the eighth-best clearance. Miller is the first Husky woman to earn All-America honors in the pole vault since Kelley DiVesta earned the honors indoors in 2008, and the first outdoors since Kate Soma and Carly Dockendorf were first and sixth, respectively, in 2005.
An unexpected third day of the decathlon kicked things off at 10:30 a.m. local time, as junior Jeremy Taiwo came back to finish up the ninth event, the javelin throw, and then head into the final 1,500-meter run. Taiwo's scoring chances took a hit on Thursday when he struggled in the pole vault. Although he was in seventh-place after that event, he knew he would be losing a lot of points in the javelin due to an elbow injury suffered several weeks back that requires him to throw with his left hand.
Despite a lefty PR on Thursday night, Taiwo would still eventually finish last in the event when action resumed on Friday. That dropped him all the way to 16th heading into the final run. The Renton, Wash. native closed out with a 12th-place finish in the 1,500-meters, and would placed 15th in the final standings with 7,517 points.
"Overall I was doing okay after the first day but then I messed up the pole vault which always seems to happen at nationals," Taiwo said. "After that I knew I couldn't make it up since I had to throw the javelin left-handed. At the end of the day it's kind of disappointing. I was hoping to do really well in nine (events) and I'd say I only did really well in a couple. But that's the decathlon, things happen. It was fun just to come out here and have a good time and kick it with my fellow decathletes; they're all really great."
Given his javelin handicap and pole vault struggles, it's a testament to his overall talent that he still beat out so many competitors. Also, this was the first NCAA decathlon Taiwo has made it all the way through. As a freshman he qualified but could not compete due to the recurrence of a foot injury from high school. Then last year he suffered a fall in the hurdles to start day two and was knocked out of the competition with a concussion. Under the new All-America format in place this year, Taiwo will garner All-America Second Team honors for his 15th-place finish, his third career All-America award.
Taiwo will head into surgery this following week to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He was encouraged by another decathlete he talked with this week who had the same surgery last May and was back now throwing the javelin just fine.
NCAA Track & Field Championships - Finals
Day Three of Four - June 10, 2011
Des Moines, Iowa - Drake Stadium
Decathlon (Final): 15. Jeremy Taiwo 7,517 (Second Team All-American*).
Jeremy Taiwo in the Decathlon
100-meter dash: 11.27 (801 points)
Long jump: 23-6 (852 points)
Shot put: 42-6 ¾ (665 points) High jump: 6-9 ¾ (878 points; first-place)
400-meter dash: 48.64 (878 points)
Total: 4,074 points
Day Two (continued into day three at javelin)
110-meter hurdles: 14.49 (912 points)
Discus: 137-1 (701 points)
Pole Vault: 14-5 ¼ (731 points)
Javelin: 118-9 (387 points)
1,500-meter run: 4:34.99 (712 points)
Total: 7,517 points
* All-America honors are unofficial until released by the USTFCCCA