EUGENE, ORE. - Dylan Blankenbaker and Hayden McClain made sure that their last time in a crimson and cream jersey would be memorable.
On day three of the NCAA Championships, held at historic Hayward Field, Blankenbaker ended his OU career by setting a personal best and breaking his own school record in the process. He finished third with a time of 8:31.17. Blankenbaker is the first at Oklahoma to finish in the top three in the event.
He shaved more than three seconds off of his previous best time, 8:34.69, which he set in Eugene at last year's championship in a fourth-place finish. With his finish this year, he earned his second first team All-America honors.
"Dylan looked so strong out there," praised head coach Jim VanHootegem. "A school record at the NCAA Championships your senior year, that's just phenomenal. He's just a great guy. He sends a message to anybody, and we'll be telling stories about Dylan Blankenbaker to our athletes for years at Oklahoma, about what you can make of yourself. He was 31st at the region meet the first time he made the region meet, and to go fourth-place at nationals junior year and third-place at nationals his senior year, is phenomenal."
McClain opened up the triple jump at 50-4.50 and sat below the ninth spot with one jump to go. Facing the prospect that it could be his last collegiate jump, the senior answered the challenge with a jump of 53-0.75, moving him into the fourth spot and into the finals.
He was unable to improve his mark in the final rounds, but his fourth-place standing held.
He also becomes a two-time first team All-American, both coming this season.
“It was a tremendous year this year for the triple jump. The nation was loaded with great triple jumpers. To be fourth in the nation is incredible. He didn't have an incredible day, but at the end of the day, he's the one standing on the award stand in fourth.
"Hayden, overall, has been a warrior for the team at the Big 12. I really challenged him this year to start taking himself seriously as a national level athlete. For him to go to both NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships and be fourth-place, and sweeping the Big 12 titles as well, he's had a special career here at Oklahoma.
"With him being here my first four years, he's obviously going to be an athlete that is real special to me. In my event area, that I coach, my first All-American athlete that I coached at Oklahoma.”
In his four years with the Sooners, McClain tallied 62 points in the Big 12 Indoor and Outdoor Championships in the triple jump, with four runner-up finishes and three Big 12 titles. He also scored eight points in the long jump.
The men's team tied for 23rd in the team standings with 11 points, which is the highest point total under VanHootegem. It is also the first time that Oklahoma has had two first team All-Americans in the same year on the men's side during VanHootegem's four years in Norman.
"For Dylan and Hayden, along with Everette, we challenged those guys," said VanHootegem. "It's obviously a step in the process, but we haven't had two placers at nationals and a double-digit score for a while at OU, I think since 2011. We challenged them to get something started, to get two guys out there and high enough on the award stands that we break into the double digits. Those guys took that seriously."
Jess Woodard will close out the season for the women tomorrow in the discus. She's scheduled to throw at 5:05 p.m. CT.
A recap will be posted at the conclusion of the night on Soonersports.com. Live results can be accessed through http://www.ncaa.com/sites/default/files/external/track-field/results/d1/outdoor17/final/index.htm?DB_OEM_ID=31000. ESPN3 will have coverage starting at 1:30 p.m. and ESPN will show events starting at 5:30 p.m. Updates will be provided throughout on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at OU_Track.