AUSTIN, Texas — After the first two days of the NCAA West prelims, the goal for the final day was to produce more qualifiers. Consider it mission accomplished. OU picked up a total of five qualifiers on day three.
Hayden McClain was the first to qualify on the day with a 53-9.00 result in the triple jump. He is coming off a fourth-plae finish in the 2017 NCAA Indoor Championship. McClain had the third-best jump of the competition, which he recorded on his third attempt. The mark also stood as a personal best among non-wind aided jumps.
“Hayden is a person who has done a lot at OU, particularly in the Big 12 meet,” says head coach Jim VanHootegem. “ I think he is one of the top triple jumpers in Big 12 history as far as points scored at the conference meet. He's never made the outdoor nationals, so for him to come and have an outdoor PR in the competition, and comfortably qualify in third place, it shows that he's at a different level now. I think that he's passed a lot of tests this year, and he's ready to go out and have a great time in Eugene.”
After earning a qualifying spot in the discus yesterday, Jess Woodard advanced to her second event of the NCAA Championship, after throwing 56-8.75 in the shot put. Her second attempt was her best of the three rounds, and she finished fourth overall. She is already a three-time first-team All-American in the shot put. (2016 Outdoor, 2016 and 2017 Indoor).
Regarding Woodard, VanHootegem went on to say, “Woodard has been competing at a high level these last two years. She is experienced. I saw a second throw out of her that shows that the technique is there and she knows how to dig down.”
A day after VanHootgem stressed the importance of the success of the relay teams to the program, the relay teams delivered, albeit with areas in each relay that can be improved upon.
Opening up the events on the track, the women's 4x100-meter relay team of Amanda Van Buren, Ama Pipi, Daye Shon Roberson and Leya Buchanan received an automatic qualifier spot with their time of 44.40. It was a season-best time for the group.
“I think the 4x1 really has to go in with the mentality that they are going to make the finals in Eugene. We dodged a bullet with Ama really having to pull up on that first exchange. I think we are ready to run and we get three good exchanges, we are definitely a finalist team. I'm glad to see that group move on.”
Half of the 12 teams that advanced from the event were from the Big 12.
Closing the meet for the Sooners was the 4x400-meter relay. The group received an automatic trip to Eugene after finishing third in its heat in 3:33.13. Pipi ran the opening leg, followed by Roberson, Daunicia Demerson and Payton Baker.
“I think that the 4x4 today didn't quite do what we've been doing, but certainly made the automatic qualifying and that's a veteran team. We need to be thinking about that team also moving on and taking a run at the school record (3:31.81, set in 1998). That group is a very experienced team, running three seniors tonight. The only way they will have a chance to break the school record is to do it in Eugene.”
Pipi will be running in both relay events as well as the 200-meter dash after advancing from the quarterfinals Saturday. In an incredibly intense and talented field, Pipi qualified by .01 with a time of 22.99. Pipi claimed the last spot in the event, edging out A'Keyla Mitchell from Kansas State, who ran 23.00.
Meia Gordon finished 16th in the shot put with a mark of 51-9.25 on her second throw but did not advance. The other field event of the day for the Sooners was the high jump, where Dean White was unable to clear his opening height of 6-8.75.
There were a total of nine Sooners who advanced after the three-day competition, held at Mike A. Myers Stadium at the University of Texas. They include Woodard (shot put, discus), McClain (triple jump), Pipi (200-meter), the women's 4x100 and 4x400-meter relay teams, Everette Favor (pole vault), Dylan Blankenbaker (3,000-meter steeplechase) and Baileh Simms (long jump).They will all be making their way to Eugene, Ore., for the NCAA Championships, held June 7-10 at Hayward Field.