June 9, 2011
June 8-11 Des Moines, Iowa Drake Stadium
» Day One: Roth Adds Another NCAA Title In Husky Finale
» Gregg Bell Unleashed: Soaring. Winning Titles. Even Coaching. What Will Scott Roth Do Next?
» Studious Huskies Earn Pac-10 Honors
» Enless Energy, Compassion, Leadership Define Coach Metcalf
Thursday, 10:25 p.m. CT: As another big storm front moves in, the officials have decided to suspend competition for the evening. So Jeremy Taiwo will have to come back tomorrow for one last javelin throw and then the 1,500-meter run. No word on when the schedule will be worked out as of yet, but that's it for the night!
Thursday, 8:20 p.m. CT: Well the rains have returned to Drake Stadium. We're back in another weather delay because there is a torrential downpour and thunder and lightning pounding the area. All the athletes and spectators headed for the adjacent field house. All this came in the middle of the 4x4 relays on the track, while the decathlon was in round two of the javelin competition. Jeremy Taiwo indeed was throwing left-handed, and had a "lefty PR" of 118-feet on his first throw. He came into the javelin in seventh-place overall but will obviously drop out of scoring position after the javelin. Taiwo runs a great 1,500-meters but it might not be enough to move him back up into the top-eight. We'll see, and we'll see if we even get to that race tonight. Might postpone it all until tomorrow.
Thursday, 6:20 p.m. CT: Well the last couple hours have been very busy for the Huskies with Taiwo in the decathlon pole vault, James Alaka in the 200-meter semifinals and Katie Flood in the 1,500-meter semis. Taiwo was first up and after an encouraging clearance at 14-5 on his second attempt, he passed up to 15-1 but missed all three tries, which dealt a huge blow to his chances to score, given what's still ahead in the javelin. Taiwo was clearly in disbelief and took a long slow walk across the infield. The pole vault is still going about an hour after Taiwo went out, which indicates he'll be losing a lot of ground. The vault was the event that bit him at indoor nationals this year as well.
Alaka then ran in the second of three semifinal heats at 200-meters, running out of lane two. He had a slow start out of the blocks and made a good chase but never really got all the way back into things. He finished seventh in his heat in 21.07 seconds.
Flood then made her Drake Stadium return, and got a big ovation when her name was announced and the announcer mentioned the numerous state titles won by Flood and Nebraska's Ashley Miller. Flood's first two laps were strong but she drifted to the back of the pack on the third lap and dropped back a bit on the bell lap, winding up 10th in her heat in 4:25.75. Afterwards in the media zone Flood was surrounded by local media members and handled it all with aplomb. The 2012 NCAA finals are right back here in Des Moines so Flood will be looking to get a round farther next season.
Now all that's left is Taiwo in the javelin and the 1,500-meter run to cap off the decathlon.
Thursday, 4:20 p.m. CT: Taiwo did what he needed to do to keep himself in the mix in the decathlon, by throwing a career-best 137-1 in the discus. That's a PR by a little over a foot, and it's 18-feet farther than he threw when he won the Pac-10 title. That was the sixth-best mark out of all competitors, and moves Taiwo up once again, as he's now in fourth overall with 5,687 points, though there are four athletes right behind him within 70 points. Now is the make or break event for Taiwo, the pole vault. At his best, Taiwo is one of the strongest vaulters among the decathletes, but Taiwo had a bad vault in the NCAA Indoor competition. And he knows all the pressure is on this event and that he'll need to do well, making it that much tougher. After the vault comes the javelin, where Taiwo figures to lose a lot of ground throwing left-handed barring something incredible.
Thursday, 2:15 p.m. CT: We're finally underway here at Drake Stadium today after about a two hour weather delay. The rain has moved on although the skies are still gray and gloomy and the track is still wet.
But on to the important issues, such as Jeremy Taiwo's decathlon quest, which is back underway. Taiwo was in the first of eight heats in the 110-meter hurdles to start day two. Obviously any Husky track fan knows that this was where Taiwo's 2010 season came to a close, as he fell over the eighth hurdle and hit his head, suffering a concussion. But Taiwo made it safely through the hurdles today, running a very solid time for him at 14.49 seconds, which wound up being fifth overall in the competition. Taiwo did clip a number of hurdles which probably cost him a tenth or two. Still, he moves up one more spot in the overall standings to fifth with 4,986 points. Miller Moss of Clemson who won the indoor heptathlon title has a big lead right now. The next two events will be critical now for Taiwo. The discus is not one of his strongest events and he didn't have great throws at Pac-10s. Not sure if the elbow injury that forces him to throw the javelin right-handed also hinders him in the discus, but it can't help. Still, given the points loss he faces in the javelin, if he can get a season-best in the disc it would be very big.
Thursday, 12:50 p.m. CT: Still trying to dry off in the press box right now as the rain continues to pour down, but for the moment, the thunder storms that have been bashing Des Moines for the past few hours seem to be moving elsewhere. It's still raining hard and there's not a sliver of blue sky to be seen, however. But officials are now wheeling the hurdles out on the track to begin set-up for the first event of the decathlon today, which was supposed to go off at 12 noon. Now the targeted time is 1 p.m., and as long as there's not threat of lightning, they might go ahead with that still and we'll just have some very wet decathlete hurdlers.
While we're waiting, time to appreciate the Husky career of Scott Roth once again. Roth's win yesterday was his third in the past four NCAA meets, indoors and out. As has been mentioned before on the site, the fact that Roth made it to whatever constituted the final round of NCAAs in all eight of his seasons, indoors and out, is perhaps his most amazing achievement, given how much can go wrong in the vault. Just look at the top vaulters this outdoor season and how many of them were knocked out in the preliminary round. Only three of the top-10 vaulters heading into prelims successfully moved on to Iowa, including Roth and eventual runner-up Jack Whitt of Oral Roberts. Among those who were unable to advance included 2010 NCAA Outdoor Champ Jordan Scott of Kansas, 2011 NCAA Indoor runner-up Ben Peterson of Minnesota, who was second to Roth, and 2011 Pac-10 Champ Greg Woepse of UCLA who was the upset winner in the one meet this year where Roth struggled. That just shows how hard it is to come through over and over and always wind up at NCAAs.
And now Roth is a seven-time All-American, having scored at every single NCAA Outdoor Championship of his career. He was eighth in 2007 as a freshman, then after a redshirt year in '08, he placed second in 2009, tied for third in 2010, and got the win this season. The only season in his career where he was not on the All-America team was the 2008 indoor season, when his back injury was causing him the most problems, and Roth tied for 10th-place at the meet.
The awards were handed out by former American record-holder and Olympic vaulter Jeff Hartwig. After the ceremony, Roth sat with Hartwig on a bench in the infield and listened intently as Hartwig chatted with him. It was pretty clear Hartwig was well aware of Scott's future potential and wanted to take the chance to lend him some advice. I'll have to ask Scott what they talked about the next time I see him and will try to pass it along.