Wildcats Withstand Wild Weather

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. Weather put a damper on the first day of action at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Rain and thunderstorms forced a delay following the 400 meter hurdles and women’s javelin. The delay lasted more than three hours while two Wildcats waited out the storm as the 100 meters semifinals and men’s high jump.

The day started with strong winds and sunshine to help guide the men’s decathlon through its first five events, and two Wildcats had their sights set on making an impact. Sophomores Moritz Cleve and Rok Derzanic entered the meet as two of the top 10 in the decathlon with Cleve ranked No. 2.

Cleve posted strong numbers in three of the five events on day one of competition to find himself in the hunt with 4,131 points. He closed the day with his best performance just missing on his personal best time in the 400 meters to finish third at 48.42 seconds. The fast time in the 400 moved him up in the standings from seventh to third.

The day opened with a 10.80-second run in the 100 meters for Cleve with a strong tailwind that put him in fifth place. His long jump was 3.50 inches short of his personal best at 23-08.25 but was only enough to place ninth in the event. Cleve was able to finish sixth in the shot put but fell back in the pack finishing 14th in the high jump only to burst back among the leaders with his strong run in the 400.

Derzanic’s day was shortened as he was forced to pull out of the competition with an apparent leg injury. Derzanic was in 10th after the two events with 1,681 points. He finished seventh in the 100 meters with a time of 10.96 seconds and tied for 12th in the long jump.

This is the second straight year a Wildcat has been forced to pull out of the decathlon after Cleve did so last season. Derzanic also had to cease competing in last year’s Big 12 Championship.

Senior thrower Loren Groves made her way to the finals in the women’s hammer throw finishing seventh with a throw of 197-07. The top 12 finishers in the qualifying round out of 27advanced to Friday’s final. Groves will also take to the ring on Thursday for the qualifying round of the women’s discus after being added to the field Tuesday with an at-large berth.

Jason Collett ran his way to the semifinals in the men’s 800 meters running in the fastest heat of the night. Collett finished fifth in his heat at 1:48.65. The time was fastest enough to advance to the semis after the top three finishers from each heat were taken along with the next six fastest times.

Mike Myer edged his way into the semis as the final time qualifier. Myer finished sixth in his heat, but it was one of the fastest of the night. In the final heat, Myer crossed the line in 10.33 seconds and was the final runner to advance to the final.

The semifinals of the 100 were pushed back due to the weather delay. Originally scheduled for 7:40 p.m., but Myer did not get in the blocks until 10:57 p.m. He finished in 10.56 seconds which was not enough to advance the final and came in 16th overall for the championship.

The men’s high jump started approximately two hours after it was schedule with Scott Sellers looking to advance to the finals and pull off the sweep with both the indoor and outdoor national championships this season.

The field in the high jump was quickly mowed down to the necessary 16 for the finals within the first two heights as the athletes struggled on the wet jumping surface. Sellers easily advanced to the finals clearing each of the two heights on his first attempt.

Ali Pistora was attempting to advance to the finals in the women’s javelin in her first NCAA Championship appearance. The sophomore could not repeat her performance from the Midwest Regional two weeks ago and did not advance. Pistora tallied a throw of 153-08 to place 17th out of 26 with the top 12 advancing to Friday’s final.

The Wildcats return to John McDonnell Field on Friday for the second day of action of the NCAA Championship. The day will see the conclusion of the decathlon for Cleve. Groves and Eric Thomas will each throw the discus. Myer will return to the track for the 200 meters as well. Collett will run in the 800 semifinals, and Beverly Ramos will take on a strong field in the women’s 10,000 meters final.

For complete coverage of the national championship go to www.ncaa.com.