Roth Adds Another NCAA Title In Husky Finale
June 8, 2011
DES MOINES, Iowa - The first title was hard-earned, the second was unexpected, and the third was simply a final example of the standard excellence that has defined senior Scott Roth's Husky career. Once again Roth touched rarefied air, capturing the national pole vault title today at the NCAA Outdoor Championships at Drake Stadium, adding a coveted first outdoor trophy to the two NCAA Indoor titles currently in his possession.
It's Roth's third championship in the past four NCAA meets, indoors or out. It also is the first NCAA Outdoor title for Washington since Ryan Brown won the 800-meter championship in 2006 and Amy Lia won the women's 1,500-meter title that same year.
Also of note, Roth becomes the first Husky since the legendary thrower Scott Neilson in 1979 to win two NCAA titles in the same year. Roth of course also captured the indoor vault title this season. Neilson won the hammer and weight throws in 1979 for his sixth and seventh NCAA titles. Now with three, Roth has the second-biggest title haul in Husky track and field history. Four other Huskies had won two NCAA titles. He is also the first outdoor pole vault champ for UW since Brian Sternberg in 1963. Brad Walker won a pair of indoor titles in 2003 and 2004.
"I came into this meet thinking I'm going to win this thing," said Roth. "I need to win it, I'm going to, I really want to, and that attitude helped me. I can't ask for a better way to end my time here at U-dub. It's just been awesome. I want to thank all my coaches. I've just really had a great time here and I'm going to miss everybody. And I want to thank my dad because I wouldn't be anywhere without him and he gave me crazy opportunities."
As for the actual competition, Roth was the last of the 24 competitors to enter the meet, passing every bar up to 17-6 ½. More than two hours after the start of the competition, Roth finally took his first trip down the runway, and he cleared the bar on his first try. That immediately put him into the lead as every other remaining vaulter had a miss at that point. Only two more vaulters made that bar, as persistend winds cut across the side of the pit and made it a challenge for the whole field.
Roth then reasserted command with another first attempt clearance at 17-8 ½. Jack Whitt of Oral Roberts and Chris Little of BYU then chose to pass to the next height, since they already had misses and would need the next bar anyway to take the lead. Both would miss their two shots at 17-10 ½, however, giving the victory to Roth. As the winds continued to pick up, Roth had two more tries at 17-10 ½, but missed the first and then ran through the second.
"It went really well, it went smoothly. I was dealing with some crazy winds out there. So it was difficult to deal with but I had been prepping myself since Pac-10s, because I didn't deal with the conditions very well there," said Roth. "And (assistant coach) Pat (Licari) and I had a talk about how I'm going to prepare myself mentally for these conditions ... and it's really changed my attitude about it. I knew when I walked on the track that it would be a difficult day as far as conditions, but I kept a positive attitude that I'd be able to deal with it."
After the trophy presentation, Roth chatted alone on the infield with awards presenter Jeff Hartwig, a former American record-holder in the vault and a 1996 Olympian.
The men's javelin was the key early event today for the Huskies, but senior Kyle Nielsen and sophomore Joe Zimmerman were unable to recapture the magic from last year's 3-4 finish at nationals. Both Huskies were in the second flight, and marks in that flight were noticeably shorter than the first. Zimmerman was unable to bust out a big one and did not advance to the final, but Nielsen did pull through with a toss of 234-5 on his first throw of the day to make the nine-man final and earn three more throws.
Even in the final though, Nielsen was unable to find the right line that produced his school-record 253-foot throw two weeks back in Eugene. He was unable to improve and would finish eighth overall. Still, the Canadian will conclude his standout Washington career as a three-time All-American, having scored for the Huskies at the past three NCAA Championships.
All-American and Pac-10 Champion Jeremy Taiwo was the center of attention for the first several hours of the meet. Taiwo opened up with an 11.27 clocking in the 100-meter dash, not one of his stronger showings this year, but he bounced back with a solid 23-6 long jump and then threw 42-6 ¾ for a good standing in the shot put, typically one of his weaker events.
Taiwo needed to make a move in the high jump, and he did just that, winning the event as the only athlete to get over 6-9 ¾. Taiwo had a great jump at 6-11 on his third attempt but just clipped the bar and knocked it off. That moved him up to 10th-place after four events. There was a two hour break before the 400-meters, but the layoff didn't seem to slow Taiwo's momentum, as he came back and clocked a 48.64 in the 400-meter dash to place eighth overall in the 400m and climbing up to sixth-place overall through day one with 4,074 points.
The men's 4x100-meter relay was the first event on the track for the Huskies aside from Taiwo. Freshman Maurice McNeal, sophomore James Alaka, sophomore Colton Dunn, and junior Ryan Hamilton ran out of lane eight in the first of three heats. The foursome ran well and clocked a 39.86, one of their best times of the season, but it would not be enough to make the eight-team final. Washington would wind up 16th overall.
McNeal came back later in the evening and had another challenging lane draw, running the 400-meter dash semifinals out of lane one against a loaded field. McNeal made a good push around the turns to get into the mix, but didn't quite have the closing speed down the final 100-meters and wound up seventh in his heat in 46.27 seconds, still his second-best time of the season for the freshman record-holder.
All told with Roth's 10 points and the one point from Nielsen, the men are sitting in second place overall. But they will only have two more point opportunities with Taiwo in the decathlon and Alaka at 200-meters.
Friday will feature the 200-meter dash semifinals for Alaka, the 1,500-meter semifinals for hometown standout Katie Flood, and the final five events for Taiwo in the decathlon.
NCAA Track & Field Championships - Finals
Jeremy Taiwo in the Decathlon
All-America honors are unofficial until released by the USTFCCCA