Outstanding Pac-12 Track and Field Championship Athletes, Events to Watch

The Athletics playoffs begin this weekend with the first of four championship meetings at Hayward Field by July.

Oregon is hosting the Pac-12 Track and Field Championships from Friday to Sunday for the seventh time since the men’s and women’s meets combined in 1987.

The Ducks have won 14 straight men’s titles, starting in 2007, and have a conference-leading 21 titles.

The Oregon Women finished three straight in Southern California, ending the Ducks’ nine-game title streak in 2018.

“We have a great weekend ahead of us,” Oregon coach Robert Johnson said. “One of the premier track meets in the country this time of year, the Pac-12 Championships speaks for itself.”

Throughout the summer, the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships will be held in Eugene in June, as will the USATF Outdoor Championships, and then the World Track and Field Championships in July.

For the second straight season, the Pac-12 meet will take place over three days – Friday through Sunday – and will include the decathlon and heptathlon. Before the pandemic, the combined events took place the weekend before what was then a two-day championship meeting.

Thirteen defending conference champions are back to defend their titles, and eight people are leading the NCAA in their respective events.

Here’s a closer look and some of the more notable events and individuals based on the list of accepted entries.

Men

100 and 200 — Oregon’s Micah Williams and USC’s Davonte Burnett prepare for a showdown in the sprints. Burnett is the defending champion in both events and has the fastest Pac-12 200-meter time this season at 20.28 seconds. He also holds the No. 5 time nationally in the 100 with a legal wind of 9.99, which is the second fastest in the Pac-12 at Williams, including 9.83 (+2.5) from Mt. SAC in April is ranked second in the NCAA. Williams also has a run of 20.35 in the 200m.

5,000 — The final final of the individual event on the track on Sunday could also be a taste of the NCAA final. Brian Fay of Washington is the NCAA leader at 13:16.52, Eduardo Herrera of Colorado is ranked fourth (13:20.30), Kieran Lumb of the Huskies is fifth (13:23.26) and Ky Robinson of Stanford is seventh (13:23.61 ).

10,000 — Look for a trio of Stanford sophomores to put the Cardinal at the top of the tag team standings after opening night. Defending champion Charles Hicks (27:40.16), Cole Sprout (27:42.42) and Robinson (27:47.11) have the three best times in the conference this season and are ranked No. 6, 7, 8 overall of the Pac-12 -time list.

Turner Washington — The Arizona State junior was one of three finalists in 2021 for the Bowerman Award after winning NCAA titles in shot put and discus. He also won two NCAA indoor shot put titles. Washington is ranked No. 2 nationally in the shot put at 68 feet, 5¾ inches and No. 8 in the discus throw at 204-6. Also keep an eye out for California rookie Mykolas Alekna, who pitched 222-0 to become the NCAA’s all-time No. 2 in discus.

May 26, 2021;  College Station, Texas, USA;  Arizona State's Turner Washington wins the shot put 68-0 1/2 during the NCAA West Preliminary at EB Cushing Stadium.

Decathlon — Max Vollmer is trying to become the Ducks’ fourth three-time champion — and fifth overall in the Pac-12 — in the decalon, joining Ashton Eaton (2008-10), Dakotah Keys (2012-14), Craig Brigham (1973-75) and Pedro da Silva (1990-92, although da Silva was subsequently stripped of the 1992 title when declared ineligible). Vollmer established a PR in April with a performance of 8,022 points, which ranks fifth nationally. Californian Hakim McMorris is ranked sixth nationally with 7,941 but is not listed this week. Washington’s Oliver Thorner is ranked 17th with 7,602.

Oregon's Max Vollmer, right, competes in the final event of the decathlon, the 1,500 meters, at the NCAA track and field championships.

Women

Slow-down USC— The Trojans have built their three-year championship reign on the strength of their speed, as they have won the 100, 200, 400, 100 hurdles and 400 hurdles in the last two championship meets, and would have made it three away with the exception of Oregon’s Makenzie Dunmore winning the 200 in 2018. This week, USC is favored in the 100, with Kentucky transferring Celera Barnes the NCAA leader at 10.82 and he has also Pac-12 leaders in the 100 hurdles (Jasmine Jones) and 400 (Jan’ Taïjah Ford).

USC's Twanisha Terry prepares as she and her competitors prepare for the women's 100 meters at the NCAA Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field on June 10, 2021. Terry emerged first overall with 11.03 like his time.

1,500 — NCAA leader Julia Heymach of Stanford is not entered, as she opted to run the 800m and defend her title in the 5,000m instead. That opens the door to a handful of contenders, including teammate Cardinal Christina Aragon, whose PR is 4:09.59, Anna Gibson of Washington (4:13.31), and Izzy Thornton-Bott of Oregon (4:09.59). 13.75).

Stanford's Christina Aragon, left, wins the women's 800 meters during the West Coast Classic at Hayward Field.

3,000 steeplechase — The Pac-12’s top two performers have already embarked on a thrilling run this season when Oregon Olympian Aneta Konieczek held off Oregon State’s Grace Fetherstonhaugh to win 9:44.72 to 9:44, 76 during the Oregon relays. It was a public relations and school record for Fetherstonhaugh and a great season opener for Konieczek, who won the Pac-12 title last season in a meet record 9:36.74 and then ran 9 : 25.98 to qualify for Tokyo. Colorado’s Madison Boreman (9:46.80) and Oregon State’s Kaylee Mitchell (9:53.67) also ran under 10:00 this season.

Oregon's Aneta Konieczek, right, leads the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase at Oregon Relays at Hayward Field Friday, April 22, 2022.

Jorinde van Klinken — The Arizona State Dutch Olympian is the defending Pac-12 and national discus champion, collegiate record holder (230-4) and leads the NCAA this season by 14 feet with her best throw of the season of 212-5. She also won the NCAA indoor shot put title in March and has a season-best outdoor rating of 60-6½, which is ranked No. 2 in the NCAA. Mine De Klerk (shot put: 56-4¾, discus: 177-11) and Jaida Ross (56-2¼, 182-1) have excellent scoring potential for the Ducks.

March 12, 2022;  Birmingham, AL, USA;  Arizona State's Jorinde Van Klinken wins the women's shot put 62-7 1/4 during the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships at the CrossPlex.

Triple jump – It could turn into a battle for the top spot between Oregon teammates Lexi Ellis and Dominique Ruotolo, who are the No. 1 and No. 2 performers in the conference, respectively, this season. Ellis, a junior with a pair of fourth-place finishes in the Pac-12 meet, jumped a 44-6¼ PR this season to move to No. 3 on Oregon’s all-time list. Ruotolo is the defending Pac-12 champion with a PR of 44-9¾. She underwent surgery last summer after tearing ligaments in her ankle during the Olympic trials. His season record is 43-9.

Lexi Ellis of Oregon competes in the Hayward Premiere Long Jump at Hayward Field on Friday, April 1, 2022.

Follow Chris Hansen on Twitter@chansen_RG or by e-mail at[email protected].

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Naomi C. Amerson