LAWRENCE, Kan. — The University of Oklahoma track and field teams closed the Big 12 Championship in fantastic fashion as they won two titles and set countless personal bests.
It was a close team contest, coming down to the results of the last two events on the women's side to determine the overall team standings. When the last events were completed, the women had finished fourth with 121 team points. The men tallied 96 points to also finish fourth. The 121 points for the women were the second-best total in OU history, second only to last year's result of 137.50 points.
The 4x100-meter relay team of Amanda Van Buren, Ama Pipi, Daye Shon Roberson and Leya Buchanan were crowned champions with a time of 44.77. It was the first time for the OU women to win the 4x100-meter relay.
Hayden McClain swept the season Big 12 triple jump titles as he added an outdoor title to the indoor title he claimed in February. On his fifth attempt, McClain recorded a personal-best mark of 54-8 to take a lead that would hold throughout the last round. Besides that jump, he had two other personal bests in earlier rounds. In round two, he jumped 53-7.75 and in round four 53-6.25. It is the senior's first outdoor title. It was OU's first triple jump title since 2009.
The podium was full of Sooners throughout the day as OU had success after success in event after event.
Starting off the day, the discus had three Sooner women on the podium, with all three setting a personal best. Meia Gordon set the bar on her first throw with a mark of 183-1. Her mark ended up as a third-place finish and a mark that is second in OU history. All of her first four throws (183-1, 178-0, 180-9 and 178-8) would have qualified as a PR for Gordon. Jess Woodard used her last throw of 179-11, a personal best for her, to jump into fourth in the competition, Jenny Carmichael's best mark came in the third round, moving her into eighth place and setting a personal best.
Bradley Daboub threw a personal best of his own with a 172-10 in the third round of the men's discus competition.
In the pole vault, Everette Favor soared to a personal-best height of 17-11 and was rewarded with third-place finish. He came into the meet with a personal best of 17-1.50, which he passed on his second attempt at 17-3. Favor vaulted into the sixth spot on the top 10 all-time list in OU history with his height.
The second day of the meet set up for a prosperous third day with 13 runners advancing to their event finals. That tied for the second-most entries among the conference schools.
Olivia Haggerty ran under 13 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles in the finals to finish third with a personal- best time of 12.99. In the men's 110-meter hurdles, Bryce Douglas ran a personal-best time of 14.12 to take sixth.
Douglas later set a personal best in the 400-meter hurdles with a 52.28 to finish as the runner-up. In the women's 400-meter hurdles, Mia Mukes ran a personal-best 59.98 to finish seventh. Medinah Spencer ran 1:00.24 to finish eighth.
Buchanan and Pipi had quite the day. Besides the 4x100 relay, they also competed individually in the 100- and 200-meter dash finals. Pipi finished as the runner-up in the 200 with a personal best of 22.83 and sixth in the 100 with 11.55. Buchanan ran 11.25 in the 100 to place third and 23.40 to finish seventh in the 200.
The 1500-meter finals had two Oklahoma entries in the women's race and one entry in the men's race. Belle Wallace (4:41.03) and Kelsey McKee (4:41.54) finished 4-5 in the women's race, and Jacob Burcham crossed the line at 4:10.69 to place third on the men's side.
The men's 4x100-meter relay team, comprised of Greg Vann, Jackson Webb, Trae Armstrong and Bennie Wesley, were fifth at 40.99.
Grayson Haws ran 1:53.63 in the 800-meter final to place sixth. A day after finishing fifth in the heptathlon, MakaylaStephens finished sixth with a clearance of 5-8.
Joining McClain on the podium was Marcus Mitchell, who jumped 49-9.75 to finish eighth. Vann set a personal best of 49-05.50 on his first attempt in the triple jump, and finished ninth.
In the last four events of the day, and of the meet, Dylan Blankenbaker led at the bell lap and was just edged out at the end to finish second in the 5,000-meter, running a time of 14:12.12. Eric Alldritt just missed the podium with a ninth-place finish after running 14:40.16. Liam Meirow ran a PR of 14:47.53. Brittany Tretbar was the top Oklahoma finisher in the women's 5,000-meter run, finishing 10th with 16:56.99.
The women's 4x400 relay team of Pipi, Roberson, Daunicia Demerson and Payton Baker ran 3:30.91 to place third in the final women's event. The men's team of Tyler Hart, Thomas Cheval, Douglas and Trae Armstrong finished eighth in their 4x400 relay with 3:17.14.
“We've talked before how this was a special senior class, and the seniors were great leaders,” said head coach Jim VanHootegem. “We certainly saw that today in performances, but what you can't see is how they affect the people at the team camp and in the stands. I'm really proud of both teams.
“We had a very good Friday, a little bit of a mixed result on Saturday and then a fantastic close today. There were moments where there was just great stuff happening all over the track. We want to place higher, but we need to do the things as a program to get ourselves in that position. We certainly know how to compete at this meet. Hats off to the 4x100 relay for the women and Hayden McClain, fighting to win another Big 12 Championship, his first outdoor championship," VanHootegem continued.
“There were tons of great performances. Women's discus was incredible. Demerson on the 4x400, Makayla Stephens coming back in the high jump, making first bar attempts, and getting three points for the team. It was a really great effort. I'm proud of our staff and what they are doing. I'm proud of this team.”
Next up for the Sooners who qualify will be the West prelims, held May 25-27 in Austin, Texas. The Sooners will find out the qualifiers later this week.