March 11, 2011
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Mookie Salaam became Oklahoma’s 33rd NCAA Track and Field champion as he clocked a world-leading time in the 200-meter dash Friday in the first of two days of competition at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. Salaam was one of four All-Americans on the night for OU as four program records also fell inside the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium.
Salaam, Candyce McGrone (200-meter dash), Ti’Anca Mock (long jump) and Kevin Schwab (5,000-meter run) all earned All-America honors while Salaam and Scottesha Miller also qualified for the Saturday finals of the 60-meter dash.
Already, the Big 12 champion in both the 60- and 200-meter dash, Salaam is Oklahoma’s first ever national champion in the event and the program’s second NCAA Indoor champion in as many years after Ronnie Ash won the 60-meter hurdles title in 2010. In one of the closest NCAA 200-meter dash finals ever, if not the closest, Salaam finished with a time of 20.41, identical to that of the first finals heat winner, Florida State’s Maurice Mitchell. When it was broken down to the thousandths of a second, Salaam edged Mitchell 20.401 to 20.403.
“Tonight is a blessing. I had a great field of competition to race against and I went to the line with an empty mind. It’s just amazing to be out here having fun and glorifying God and showing what His work can do,” said Salaam, who will run in the finals of the 60-meter dash tomorrow at 6:10 p.m. “Coach (Matt) Kane had a good game plan for me today. He switched up our strategy for the corners and I got up the hill really smooth. It’s a blessing to be coachable and be able to take what an awesome coach gives me.”
Salaam qualified for the finals after running a world-leading time of 20.39 in the event’s prelims, shattering his own program record and the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium facility record. Salaam entered the weekend ranked seventh nationally with a personal best of 20.76, run in the same building at the Big 12 vs. SEC Challenge on Jan. 29.
The All-America honor is Salaam’s fourth of his career and his second indoor 200-meter dash honor after finishing seventh at the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championships.
The 200 was one of two events the junior was involved in Friday night as he also competed in the prelims of the 60-meter dash. The second heat of the 60 prelims saw three different starts before Salaam was able to run a complete race to win the heat with a time of 6.55. One lane to Salaam’s left was Auburn’s Harry Adams who rocked out of the blocks twice with the second resulting in the Tigers’ sophomore disqualification. Despite the two false starts for the field, Salaam still clocked his second-best time of the season, just behind his collegiate leading 6.54 from the Tyson Invitational on Feb. 11.
McGrone finished fourth overall in the 200-meter dash with a time of 23.00 to pick up her fourth career All-American honor and her first as a Sooner after earning three while as a member of the Florida State Track and Field program. McGrone finished ninth in the event at the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championship. The junior’s honor gives the Oklahoma program its sixth All-American in the event and its third consecutive honor in the event after Scottesha Miller earned the status in 2009 and 2010.
McGrone advanced to the finals with an Oklahoma record of 22.84, the fastest time of the event’s prelims. The junior from Indianapolis entered the weekend with the previous Oklahoma record of 23.01 from the Tyson Invitational on Feb. 12.
Mock earned her third career All-American honor and her second in the indoor long jump as she finished fourth overall in the event with a top jump of 20-9.75 (6.34) on her fourth attempt. The jump, a season best, was just two inches off her personal best and school record of 20-11.75 (6.39). Mock entered the meet with a season best of 20-8.00 (6.30) from the New Balance Invitational on Feb. 4. Southern Mississippi’s Tori Bowie won the event with a jump of 21-4.75 (6.52).
Mock opened the night with a jump of 19-8.00 (5.99), the eighth best in the first round of jumps. Mock dropped to 11th in the second round despite improving to 19-10.25 (6.04). The senior climbed back into scoring on her third attempt as she leapt 20-5.25 (6.23) to move into sixth. Mock then hit her final mark on her fourth attempt before jumping 19-9.00 (6.02) on her fifth attempt and fouling on her sixth.
The All-America honor is Oklahoma’s third in the event with Mock accounting for a honor in 2009 and Portia Nash accomplishing the feat in 2007.
Schwab earned his first career track and field All-American honor after accomplishing the feat during the 2010 cross country season when he finished sixth overall in the 5,000-meter run with a program record 13:36.14. The time shattered Schwab’s previous PR of 13:47.59 along with the previous school record of 13:45.32 run by George Alex at the Husky Classic on Feb. 11. Alex was also in the field Friday night as he finished 12th overall with a time of 13:46.57.
As a pack of five runners jumped out a short lead, the remainder of the field began to string out with Schwab and Alex holding a steady pace in the line of runners. With five laps remaining, Schwab overtook a line of three runners to move into sixth as the sophomore from Mustang, Okla., picked up the pace in an attempt to move into the top five. Using a strong kick, Schwab was able to hold off the field and earn his spot on the awards stand.
With the honor, Schwab becomes Oklahoma’s second All-American in the event and the first since Conor Holt accomplished the feat in 1996.
Miller qualified for Saturday’s finals in the 60-meter dash by shaving three-hundreths of a second off her previous personal best with her record-breaking time of 7.22. Miller’s time broke the previous Oklahoma record of 7.24 set by Laverne Jones in 2004. Miller’s PR entering the weekend was the 7.25 used to win the Big 12 Championships on Feb. 26.
McGrone finished 12th overall in the women’s 60-meter dash as she clocked a personal-best time of 7.28. McGrone’s time is the third-fastest in Oklahoma history as the cutoff time for the finals of the event was 7.23. McGrone’s previous best entering the competition was a 7.29 run at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational.
Oklahoma Final Results
Men’s 200-Meter Dash: 1. Mookie Salaam 20.41
Men’s 5,000-Meter Run: 6. Kevin Schwab 13:36.14; 12. George Alex 13:46.57
Women’s 60-Meter Dash: 12. Candyce McGrone 7.28
Women’s 200-Meter Dash: 4. Candyce McGrone 23.00
Women’s Long Jump: 4. Ti’Anca Mock 20-9.75 (6.34)
Oklahoma Finals Qualifiers
Men’s 60-Meter Dash: Mookie Salaam 6.55
Women’s 60-Meter Dash: Scottesha Miller 7.22