Women’s team eighth going into Saturday
EUGENE, Ore. – The Kentucky men’s track and field team finished in a two-way tie for 16th place with 16 points at the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Championships on Friday at Hayward Field. Tim Duckworth won the men’s decathlon to score 10 points on Thursday. Jacob Thomson (10,000 meters) and Elijah Marta (javelin) scored three points apiece on Wednesday.
UK improved its point total by 12 points, and 43 places from a year ago. The Wildcats earned the school’s best NCAA outdoor finish since 2014 when they finished 15th with 14 points. UK scored the most points since posting 18 to place 13th in 2010. In UK’s last event on the men’s side, Noah Castle placed 16th with a mark of 177’0″/53.95m. For perspective, the two-event NCAA Championships competitor’s personal best is more than 13-feet farther, although his qualifying mark at East Prelims was just 11-inches better, and he was throwing in a wet ring on Friday.
The UK women’s team is in a two-way tie for eighth place with 10 points with six of 21 events scored. The meet will conclude with women’s events only on Saturday.
The Saturday preview
UK advanced five entries from Thursday women’s track semifinals into Saturday finals, tied for fourth most in the field.
The Wildcats will have finalists in the 4x100m relay, 100m hurdles (Jasmine Camacho-Quinn), 3k steeplechase (Katy Kunc), 400m hurdles (Sydney McLaughlin) and 4x400m relay.
Additionally, Marie-Josee Ebwea-Bile will triple jump and Ellen Ekholm will high jump.
ESPN will show Saturday’s meet-conclusion live from 6:30 – 9 p.m. ET/3:30 – 6 p.m. PT.
Two Thursday NCAA Champions
Duckworth scored 8,336 to become Kentucky’s first UK NCAA decathlon champion.
The score ranks No. 7 on NCAA all-time performers’ list and was No. 9 NCAA all-time decathlon score.
It was a 191-point personal best moving him to No. 3 on the British all-time list.
Duckworth became just the second man to win the NCAA decathlon and indoor heptathlon in the same year, joining world-record holder and two-time Olympic gold medalist Ashton Eaton.
“It started off well, and I just kept the momentum going after the hurdles into discus,” Duckworth said. “After pole vault, I kind of hit a stride and PR’ed in the javelin and ran a good 1500 for myself.
“I feel like everything is coming together. I just have one more piece that I need to fit together, and that’s the 1,500. I think today it was a bigger step for myself to run a good one. It was a roller coaster this year, but I’m happy with how it is going.”
Gruver cleared 14’11”/4.55m, in an otherwise slightly rocky early series. Battling ankle trouble for much of the season, she peaked at the right time and bettered the outdoor personal best she vaulted to win last year.
She missed the first two attempts after entering the competition at 13’7.25”/4.15m, but then seemed to relax after getting over. After clearing 14’1.25”/4.30m on her first try, she then then missed on her first go at three-straight heights before hitting the winning height on her first try.
“It really calmed me down this year knowing that I can do it,” Gruver said. “Knowing that if I stayed calm and trusted myself everything would be fine. I started out the (outdoor) season with a fractured ankle, so it’s been more about keeping my mental game up, and that really helped in that moment of knowing that I had to clear that bar to win.”
Jasmine Camacho-Quinn ran the second fastest qualifying time in NCAA Championships 12.54Q to finish as top qualifier into her third-straight 100m hurdles final. That final will run at 7:12 p.m. ET/4:12 p.m. PT on Saturday.
Sydney McLaughlin cruised to the top 400m hurdles qualifying time, running 54.15 to win heat three. Her final will go off at 7:57 p.m. ET/4:57 p.m. PT Saturday.
UK’s women’s 4x400m relay of Faith Ross, Camacho-Quinn, McLaughlin and Kayelle Clarke advanced to the final with the second fastest semifinal time, 3:29.24Q. That race will conclude the meet on Saturday.
Katy Kunc advanced to the NCAA 3k steeplechase final for the second year in a row. She earned the last time qualifying little “q” running a season best 9:57.72q to take sixth in the second of two heats. Her final will be Saturday at 6:54 p.m. ET/3:54 p.m. PT.
The UK women’s 4x100m relay of Celera Barnes, Camacho-Quinn, Clarke and Kianna Gray advanced to the final where they’ll seek to defend their NCAA title with a time of 42.99Q, fourth fastest of the semifinals. That race will open the track action on Saturday at 6:32 p.m. ET/3:32 p.m. PT.
All of UK’s individual qualifiers into Saturday finals ran in hurdle races.
Thomson finished sixth in the 10,000 meters with a seven-second personal best 28:40.50.
Elijah Marta improved the personal best javelin throw he came into the meet with by 12-feet, four inches on his second attempt, and then blew that mark out of the water on the third try to eventually place sixth.
Duckworth started day two as well as one could ask. He won the 110-meter hurdles in 14.37, .07 off his personal best all the more impressive considering he ran into a -0.7 headwind. That performance gave him 927 points, increasing his day-one lead by 63 to 273.
He then chucked a solid discus throw, reaching a mark of 140’3”/42.76m, 4’3” behind his personal best to score 721. Georgia freshman Johannes Erm scored 30 points more than Duckworth to cut the UK senior’s lead to 207 through seven events.
Duckworth made hay where he wanted to, in the pole vault, one of his better events. He won the decathlon pole vault with a clearance over 16’9.25”/5.11m to score 944 points.
He increased his lead by 92 to 299 with two events remaining.
He kept pulling away in the javelin, heaving a one-inch PB 187’10”/57.27m, to place second in the event and score a further 697 points and increase his lead. He had 7,784 points through nine events. That total would have placed sixth.
He took a 330-lead into the 1,500m, likely his worst event, and closed it out comfortably, running 5:01.27, within a second of his PB to add 552 points and finish with a 199-point win on 8,336.
Decathlon day one report
Duckworth has a solid 174-point lead after the first day, 73 points off the nation-leading day-one PB he posted at Georgia in April, his only other decathlon this season.
Duckworth scored 959 points to open the day with a 100m time of 10.57 (+0.5). It was second fastest, to Georgia’s Karl Saluri, who scored 16 points more than Duckworth with a 10.50.
Duckworth exercised some major demons in emphatic fashion with his first long jump attempt. He popped of the best long jump ever in a NCAA Championship decathlon competition, 26’3.5”/8.01m (+0.8). The mark, and the 1,063 points it came with, gave him the point-total lead for the first time.
Duckworth has been jumping eight-meter plus marks throughout the year, having claimed bronze at the Southeastern Conference open long jump indoors and out.
Saluri retook the lead, by 15 points, as he won the decathlon shot put. Duckworth’s best mark came on his second attempt as he scored 676 with a mark of 43’1.75”/13.15m. Saluri’s shot put mark was 47’3.5”/14.41m.
Duckworth took control in the high jump, one of his best events, clearing 6’11.75”/2.13m, highest of anyone in the competition, to score 925 points and take a 195-point lead.
The 2018 Southeast Region Field Athlete of the Year closed the day with a personal best 400m time, 48.78 to score 872.
The look ahead
The meet will be broadcast on the ESPN family of networks throughout the week. ESPN will show Friday’s competition starting at 8:30 p.m. ET, with field events – including Noah Castle’s discus – streaming live on ESPN3.
Points are scored at the NCAA Championships by individuals or relay teams finishing top-eight in respective events. Points are awarded on a 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis with 10 going to the winner and one going to eight place. The team with the most points at the end of the meet wins the team title.
Athletes qualified to the NCAA Championships finals site by finishing top-12 at two regional meets 10 days ago. The East and West Preliminary Championships. Athletes qualified there based on having top-48 marks in respective events recorded during the season.
The No. 4-ranked Kentucky women’s team has 13 event entries, tied for fourth most in the nation. The No. 14 UK men’s team has 10 event entries, tied for eighth most at the Championships.
The men’s competition will be held Wednesday and Friday with just the men’s decathlon concluding on Thursday.
The women’s competition will take place Thursday and Saturday, with the heptathlon starting on Friday.
The multi-events cross over because they have to be held in two consecutive days.
The meet is being held in Eugene for the sixth year in a row, and will relocate to Austin, Texas next year.
Women’s team precedent UK was fourth with 40 points at the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Championships. The UK women’s team’s best NCAA outdoor finish was second in 2015 with 50 points.
UK placed third with 34 points at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships in March.
Men’s team precedent UK was 59th with four points last season at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. The UK men’s team’s best NCAA outdoor finish was ninth in 2008 with 25 points.
UK finished 17th with 12 points at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships.