NCAA Championships Day 1 Recap: Ben Flanagan Unleashes A Kick, Twitter Goes Wild
The NCAA Championships started yesterday. Here is your short summary of what happened.
WHO IS BEN FLANAGAN?
The redshirt senior from Kitchener, Ontario, ran a blistering last lap of 56.95 seconds to outkick Utah State’s Dillon Maggard and Alabama’s Vincent Kiprop and win the 10,000 meters. If you picked him to win, you’re clearly lying.
— NCAA Track & Field (@NCAATrackField) June 7, 2018
Coming into yesterday, Flanagan’s best finish at any NCAA championships was 14th and he’d never broken 29:00. After more than a year of injuries – first a foot injury, then a sacral stress fracture – he only truly started getting back on track during the outdoor season. He won the Cardinal Classic 10k and the Big Ten 10k, his only two races until the NCAA regionals.
Alabama’s Vincent Kiprop foolishly took the pace out at 60.94 for the first lap, which got the pace hot right from the gun. He and his two Alabama teammates led through two miles, then Northern Arizona teammates Tyler Day and Matthew Baxter took over the lead. Flanagan remained in the lead pack during all of this, as far back as tenth, and crept up over the next mile. The late stages of the race featured grinding and attacking from Kiprop, Day, and Maggard, but Flanagan did the smart thing: he hung in there, was the last to make a move, and went past Kiprop on the homestretch for the win.
Here’s how Twitter reacted with some prominent figures:
I love this kid. Finishes race of his life and says “where’s my mom?” https://t.co/fk7g8gk3in
— Shalane Flanagan (@ShalaneFlanagan) June 7, 2018
Wake up to read @bennyflanagan is the @NCAATrackField 10000m champion!! WOW WOW WOW. Couldn't happen to a nicer kid. Not sure I've met a better young leader, one who leads through listening and asking questions and putting others first, in all my years hanging around campus.
— Nick Willis (@nickwillis) June 7, 2018
— CITIUS MAG (@CitiusMag) June 7, 2018
— Mason Ferlic (@masonferlic) June 7, 2018
Ben Flanagan has is my hero and National Champ!!!🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦 pic.twitter.com/VqOv5OYLBS
— Justyn Knight (@justyn_knight) June 7, 2018
DENZEL COMENENTIA IS A ONE-MAN TEAM
The Georgia Bulldogs currently lead the team competition with 20 points, all scored by their Dutch thrower. He won the first final of the meet, the hammer throw, in a bit of an upset. Kansas’ Gleb Dudarev was the favorite, but he had the worst outing of his collegiate career and did not make the final. Two-time national champion Rudy Winkler (USATF ’16, NCAA ’17) has taken a step back in performance level since completing his degree at Cornell and transferring to Rutgers. Comenentia’s PR throw of 76.41 meters (250′ 8″) was going to be very difficult for anyone to beat anyway.
Less than three hours later he was back at it in the shot put, where he was the favorite and came through for the win. He only had one really good mark, a fifth-round 20.61 (67′ 7½ “) that moved him from fifth to first — but just one good mark is all you need.
GATORS NO LONGER INVINCIBLE
Florida was the pre-meet favorites, but now they’re in a much more precarious position. We expected 10 to 16 points out of the Gators in the long jump and they got 2. That brings them back to the pack, and I’d say it doesn’t bode well for Friday’s triple jump either. Still, it looks like their meet to lose.
NILSEN ANOTHER POLE VAULT STAR
South Dakota sophomore Chris Nilsen got back on top of the NCAA pole vault and in a big way. He won the NCAA indoor last year, then finished 3rd and 2nd at the next outdoor and indoor NCAAs. Yesterday he broke the meet record with 5.83 meters (19′ 1½”). Nilsen has been overshadowed by world champion Sam Kendricks and wunderkind Mondo Duplantis, but Nilsen is a star on the rise. It wasn’t so long ago that the USA struggled to get one man over 19 feet.
PETERS THROWS HELLA FAR
Anderson Peters led a Mississippi State 1-2 in the javelin and set a new meet record of 82.82m (271′ 9″). The redshirt freshman from Grenada opened his outdoor season in Australia, where he won Commonwealth bronze.
BAZILE FROM NOWHERE
Ohio State’s Zach Bazile was not expected to be a contender for the long jump title. His best mark, indoors back in February, put him fifth on the yearly collegiate list and he hadn’t matched it since then. But marks should always be put into perspective. He also runs the 100 and 4×100 and tripled up at nearly every outdoor meet. Even so, he won four of five long jump competitions during the outdoor season, and is fast enough that he barely missed making it to the NCAAs in the 100. He anchored his Buckeyes into the 4×100 final, their first such appearance since 1994, and with a school record as well.
Bazile took the long jump by the horns. He went out to a PR of 8.17m (26′ 9¾”) on his very first attempt, a distance only three men in the competition had topped all year. In the second round he put it away for good by jumping 8.37m (27′ 5½”), the furthest at an NCAA Championships since 2011. Behind him the formcharts blew up, Florida only got two points out of the event, and Akron’s Jordan Latimer took an upset second for an Ohio 1-2 in the event.
By all rights Bazile should now have three Ohio State school records. The official records credit Jesse Owens with 10.20, but he ran no such time. He ran a hand-timed 10.2, which is a completely different thing. Bazile’s 10.21 at the NCAA East Prelims is the best auto-timed 100 ever run by a Buckeye, and his 10.22 at that same meet is the second best.
DUCKWORTH LEADING, HURTING
Kentucky senior Tim Duckworth is leading the decathlon, but appeared to injured himself in the high jump. He was able to get through the 400, but we’ll see how things go for the second day. Even if Duckworth is able to complete the decathlon, Stanford’s Harrison Williams is strong enough in the second-day events that he rates as a slight favorite to win the whole thing.