Brown, Gaither And Both 4x100m Relays Advance To NCAA Finals
June 11, 2014
EUGENE, ORE. - Aaron Brown in the men's 100m, Tynia Gaither in the women's 100m and both the men's and women's 4x100m relays advanced to NCAA finals and Viktor Fajoyomi stands in third place in the decathlon after the first day of the 2014 NCAA Track & Field Championships hosted by Oregon at historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore today (June 11).
"I'm excited about the performances we had today," said USC Director of Track & Field Caryl Smith Gilbert. "We started out the day with Viktor in the decathlon. He had a solid day, PR'd in the 100m, the long jump and shot put and had good performances in the high jump and 400m. He is sitting third right now, so that is great for us and he'll do well in the hurdles tomorrow."
The senior Fajoyomi was the first Trojan to compete at the NCAA Championships when he began his quest in the 10-event men's decathlon at 11:30 a.m. The 100m dash was up first and Fajoyomi ran a wind-aided PR of 11.12 (+2.3w) to score 834 points and tie for 15th after one event.
Fajoyomi opened the decathlon long jump competition with a jump of 22-9.25 (6.94m). He had nearly qualified in the open long jump competition finishing 14th at the West Preliminary Rounds with a jump of 24-6.50 (7.48m). In his second attempt he showed why he nearly came to Eugene in two events as he launched a PR of 24-9.75 (7.56m) which would have gotten him through the regional. His final long jump attempt was good for 23-10.75 (7.28m), so he finished the event earning 950 points for his second jump, the second-best jump among all 23 competitors.
After two events Fajoyomi had two PRs and a score of 1,784 which was good for fifth place, nine points out of third. The next event was the shot put which has tended to be his lowest scoring event on the first day. He opened with a throw of 41-1 (12.52m), then followed with a PR of 41-8.75 (12.72m) in his second attempt. He followed that with a foul, so he earned 650 points in the event. Fajoyomi finished 14th in the shot put and stood in an eighth-place tie with 2,434 points after three events.
The high jump was next, one of Fajoyomi's strengths. He passed up to the height of 6-5.00 (1.96m) which he cleared on his first attempt. He then passed at the next height of 6-6.25 (1.99m) and then cleared 6-7.50 (2.02m) in his first attempt. He then coolly cleared the next two heights of 6-8.75 (2.05m) and 6-9.75 (2.08m). Again Fajoyomi cleared the next height of 6-11.00 (2.11m) in his first attempt as one of two jumpers at that height, but he missed on all three attempts at 7-0.25 (2.14m), just nudging the bar off on his second attempt. He finished second in the event and earned 906 points to give him 3,340 through four events and a fourth-place standing. He also was 78 points behind Zach Ziemek of Wisconsin who was in first place after four events.
The final decathlon event of the day was the 400m race which began six and a half hours after the first event of the competition. Fajoyomi was fourth in the final heat and seventh overall in the event with his second-best time ever of 49.75 to earn 826 points. He finished the first day of the decathlon with 4,166 points and in third place, 75 points behind the leader. His first-day score is just 15 points off his PR of 4,181 set at the 2014 Pac-12 Championships where he placed second.
The men's 4x100m relay was the first running event for the Trojans on the day and it began at 4 p.m., four and one-half hours after Fajoyomi got things rolling and he was still competing in the fourth event the time of the race. The USC team of senior Aleec Harris, the senior Brown, junior BeeJay Lee and senior Terence Abram was in the second heat. The top two in each heat plus the two next best times would advance to Saturday's finals. The Trojans finished third in its heat thanks to a strong close by Terence Abram who received the stick in fifth place and led them home with a time of 39.08, the eighth-fastest time in school history. That time would stand up as the top non-automatic qualifier and was the fourth-fastest time overall and moved them onto the finals. It was USC's fastest time in the men's 4x100m since the 2005 season.
The women's 4x100m relay team of senior Loudia Laarman, senior Jessica Davis, sophomore Alexis Faulknor and the sophomore Gaither was even more impressive winning the first heat with a time of 43.08 to automatically advance to the finals. That time was the second-fastest in USC history and tops among today's qualifiers.
"We ran great times in the relays, but we have to smooth out the handoffs on the women's side," added Smith Gilbert. "I couldn't be more proud of the men's team. They came in 16th out of the regional and they made the finals and become All-Americans. That was a great moment and we are going to go in with the mind-set of lowering our times on both sides."
Up next for USC was junior Vanessa Jones in the women's 400m dash semifinals. She was running in the second heat and would have to finish in the top two or be one of the top two next best times out of the three heats. Jones placed sixth in a close heat with a time of 52.45, so she was automatically eliminated from the final. She placed 12th overall and had a PR of 52.15 entering the race, but would have had to beat 52.06 to advance.
"Vanessa was at a slight deficit running in lane two as a result of the regional, but she ran a good race," said Smith GIlbert. "She gave all she had and ran the race the way she was supposed to, its just tough when you have to run on those tight turns like that."
Brown was next in the men's 100m dash semifinals. He ran a wind-aided 10.10 (+2.2w) to place second in his heat and automatically onto Friday's final. Next was Lee in the third and final heat. He would have to finish in the top two of his heat or beat 10.13 which was the final non-automatic qualifier after the first two heats. Lee's heat was the only one run into a legal wind (+0.6) and he finished sixth with a time of 10.38, 22nd overall.
:In the 100m, Aaron (Brown) had a little bit of a slow start and has to execute a little better, but he had a nice patient race and was able to stay patient and finish second in the heat and overall," said Smith Gilbert. "BeeJay (Lee) surprised himself. He got out front and then wondered how he was out there and any time you do that, here they come. I am proud of BeeJay, he had a great season. He ran a great third leg for us today on the 4x100."
The women's 100m dash was next with Gaither in heat one and Davis in heat three. Gaither took third in her heat with a wind-aided PR of 11.23 (+2.2w), matching the best time by a Trojan woman this season. After the second heat, she still had the fastest non-automatic qualifier. Davis was in the final heat in the first lane and she placed fourth with a time of 11.31 (+0.6). She finished 10th overall, two spots out of advancing to the finals.
"Tynia (Gaither) had a great race again," said Smith Gilbert. "She PR'd. She's a competitor. When the lights come on you can count on her to show up. It was a big disappointment with Jessica (Davis), not her performance, but that she was number 10. She almost made the final. It was a great race for her senior year in her last open 100m race in college. I was very proud of her because she really stayed patient and executed. She had a great start, but just didn't finish the way she is capable of doing. She had a great race, I can't complain about today."
The final Trojan to compete on Day 1 of the NCAA Championships was freshman Amalie Iuel in the women's 400m IH. Iuel was in the third and final heat and would have to take second or post a big PR as the last non-automatic qualifier entering the final group of hurdlers was 57.15 and Iuel's best has been 58.10. Iuel placed fifth in her heat and 18th overall with a time of 59.74.
"I can't be more proud of the freshman Amalie Iuel," stated Smith Gilbert. "Amalie is one of the brightest spots this year. She didn't run her senior year of high school because she was hurt, comes back to win the conference championship in the heptathlon and makes the NCAA semifinals in the 400m IH. She is a great asset to our program and I don't know what we'd do without her."
"Overall, I'm excited," said Smith Gilbert. "We have the last five events in the decathlon, the discus throw, the 200m, the 100m HH, the 110m HH and the women's 4x400m relay tomorrow, so we should have more great performances tomorrow and Friday and Saturday we go into finals. We'll come out on top and Fight On!"
In tomorrow's NCAA Championship action, USC will have the following athletes competing: Aaron Brown (200m), Alexandra Collatz (discus throw), Melia Cox (100m HH), Viktor Fajoyomi (decathlon final 5 events), Tynia Gaither (200m), Aleec Harris (110m HH) and the women's 4x400m relay.