Men's track and field takes second at Conference Championships, women fifth
The Arizona State University track and field team added four more conference titles as the team wrapped up competition at the 2012 Pac-12 Championships in Eugene, Ore., on Saturday at Hayward Field. The men posted a second-place finish while the women’s team took fifth overall.
The men’s 4x100-meter relay team of Daniel Auberry, Chris Burrows, Rashad Ross and Ryan Milus got things going with a bang in winning the school’s first quarter-mile relay title since 2005, blowing away the field by over half a second to get ASU on the board for the day.
The men weren’t finished with the relay dominance there though, as Burrows came back to join Kelsey Caesar, John Kline and Will Henry to take the 4x400-meter relay to close out the competition in 3:06.00 ahead of favorite USC. With the victory, the Sun Devils swept the conference relays for the first time since 2005.
Senior Chris Benard had several huge fouls, but all it took was one legal jump in the men’s triple jump to give him his first conference victory. Benard soared 16.42m (53-10.50) on his second jump of the day and no one else came close to that, allowing the school-record holder a chance for the iconic victory lap around Hayward Field.
Benard became the first Sun Devil to win the conference triple jump title since Dwight Phillip did it in 1999.
Anna Jelmini didn’t seem content with just her shot put title on Saturday, so she followed it up with a victory in the women’s discus on Sunday. Jelmini’s worst throw of the day was 56.80m (186-4) and even that would have been enough to win the conference title as she posted a winning throw of 58.94m (193-4) – just under 13 feet better than her closest competitor.
That throw gave Jelmini 20 points towards the women’s team total on the weekend, the highest individual tally on the team. Senior Cj Navarro finished up her conference career for the Sun Devils with a seventh-place finish in the event on her final throw of 49.27m (161-7).
Numerous other Sun Devils added to both team scores on Sunday, but none may have been as impressive as Jordan Clarke. Clarke continued to stake his MVP claim after scoring a second-place finish in the hammer throw and a third-place mark in the discus throw to go along with his shot put title from yesterday.
Clarke opened the day with a solid throw of 64.37m (211-2) on his second attempt in the hammer throw and that mark held strong through the remainder of the competition. Clarke didn’t even have time to get honored on the podium for the finish as he head straight over to the discus competition where he launched his final through of the day 55.58m (182-4) to move up to third.
With the performance, Clarke tallied 24 points on the weekend for the Sun Devil men. That total ranks third all-time in ASU history at the conference meet behind only Dwight Phillips’ 26 points in 1999 and 26.5 points in 2000. It should be noted that Clarke had two more teams to compete against in 2012 than Phillips did back then.
In addition, Clarke was honored after the competition as the Men’s Athlete of the Meet for the inaugural Pac-12 Championships, scoring more points than any other competitor from any school in the competition.
Another meet all-star was ASU’s Keia Pinnick. After taking second in the heptathlon last weekend, Pinnick followed it up with fourth place finishes in both the 100-meter hurdles (13.34) and the 400-meter hurdles in 57.51 on Sunday.
Pinnick’s high hurdle time was a new career best and also moved her into seventh in ASU’s history in the event. As if that weren’t enough, Pinnick ran legs on the women’s 4x100-meter relay team that took fourth and the 4x400-meter relay team that took third overall in a season’s best time of 3:34.62 alongside teammates Brianna Tate, Kayla Sanchez and Alycia Herring.
The men’s sprint team posted a decent day in the points category, with Milus, Burrows and Auberry taking the 4-5-6 spots, respectively in the 100-meter dash in times of 10.25, 10.36 and 10.41.
Burrows and Auberry would go on to take fifth and eighth, respectively, in the 200-meter dash in times of 20.74 and 21.09 while Henry and Caesar were fourth and fifth, respectively, at 400 meters ion 46.68 and 47.13.
In the men’s high hurdles, Cameron Taylor ran an impressive race as a freshman as he took fourth overall in 14.20. The race was not wind-legal, but it was Taylor’s best time in his career in all conditions.
In the women’s 800-meter run, freshman Shleby Houlihan continued to show she can roll with the big dogs as she took fourth in the race with a time of 2:05.52 – less than half a second out of first place.
Asiah Gooden ran an impressive race in the women’s 100-meter final as she took sixth overall in 11.61 while also helping the 4x100-meter relay team to a time of 44.51 and a and fourth-place finish.
Back in the field events, sophomore Shaylah Simpson had another impressive competition en route to a third-place finish and a best jump of 4.28m (14-00.50), the second jump of her career.
With the runner-up finish, it was the best conference finish for the ASU men since 2008, where the team was also second. The women posted their 13th consecutive top-five conference finish.
The team will now set its sights on the NCAA West Preliminary Championships, set to take place in two weeks in Austin, Texas. There, individuals and relays will duke it out for a ticket to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, set to take place next month.