Mac Fleet defends 1,500 meter title
EUGENE, Ore. -- Oregon senior Mac Fleet leaned at the finish line in the 1,500 meters, just to ensure he defended his NCAA title.
Arizona's Lawi Lalang was right on his heels.
"I could see Lawi's hands right here -- he's got that big arm swing -- all the way to the end," Fleet said, gesturing over his shoulder.
Fleet's victory Saturday at the NCAA track and field championships denied Lalang a ninth national title in his final college race.
Fleet pulled ahead down the stretch and bore down for the final 50 meters to win in a personal-best 3 minutes, 39.09 seconds, with Lalang close behind in 3:39.13 to the delight of the Ducks' home crowd at Hayward Field.
"Big lean at the end," Fleet said. "I wanted to make sure."
Fleet's victory helped push the Oregon men (88 points) to the team's first outdoor national title since 1984. Texas A&M (75 points) won the women's title.
Fleet became the first man to repeat in the 1,500 since Seneca Lassiter of Arkansas in 1997 and 1998.
On Friday night, Lalang won the 5,000 in a meet-record 13:18.36 for his eighth NCAA title. Oregon freshman Edward Cheserek took the lead on the final lap, but defending champion Lalang pulled back in front on the final 100 meters for the dramatic finish.
Lalang was vying to become the first man to win both the 1,500 and the 5K in the same year.
"I've done my best. I have nothing to regret," Lalang said about his impressive college career. "I'm really happy."
Arizona State junior Shelby Houlihan won the women's 1,500 in 4:18.10.
The Ducks went into the meet ranked No. 1 in the nation by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. Oregon, which has won eight straight Pac-12 titles, also claimed the NCAA indoor championship this year.
Second-ranked Florida finished second in the men's standings with 70 points. The Gators and Texas A&M were the co-champions last year, when the outdoor championships were also held at Hayward Field.
The Texas women were the runners-up to the Aggies with 66 points. Oregon finished third with 59.
The Longhorns were ranked No. 1 by the USTFCCCA, followed by the Aggies. The third-ranked Ducks, coming off their sixth straight Pac-12 title, have not won an outdoor team title since 1985. Kansas was the defending champion.
Florida's men defended their title in the 400 relay in 38.73 seconds, while Texas A&M defended on the women's side in 42.80. The victory pulled the Aggies into the points lead in the team standings.
Texas A&M won the men's 1,600 relay in 2:59.60, while the Texas women won the event in 3:24.21.
Florida junior Dedric Dukes won the 200 with in a wind-aided 19.91, while Texas A&M junior Kamaria Brown won the women's 200 in 22.63.
Oregon junior Sam Crouser won the javelin with a throw of 252 feet, 7 inches. Shortly thereafter, Ducks freshman Devon Allen won the 110 hurdles in a meet record 13:16, which gave Oregon the points it needed to win the team title. Allen is the first freshman to win the national title in the event since San Jose State's Dedy Cooper in 1976.
Allen is also wide receiver on Oregon's football team, following several Ducks in recent years who have doubled up in the two sports.
"I had a good day today," Allen said. "But it's still football first."
Oregon coach Robert Johnson said the Ducks men finished off the meet in style.
"In an amount of about an hour we had three national champions with Crouser, Fleet, and Allen. Devon (Allen) is a super competitor and Crouser there on his last throw has a flair for the dramatic," Johnson said. "Then, of course the golden boy Mac Fleet did an awesome job there just biding his time."
Other winners Saturday included UTEP junior Anthony Rotich, who won the men's steeplechase in 8:32.21; Arkansas State senior Sharika Nelvis, who won the women's 100 hurdles in a wind-aided 12.52; and Texas senior Marielle Hall, who won the 5,000 in 15:35.11.
In the other field events, Iowa State sophomore Christina Hillman won the women's shot put at 58-2; Georgia sophomore Leontia Kallenou won the women's high jump in 6-2 1/4; and Marquis Dendy wont the men's triple jump with a leap of 55-11 1/4.