EUGENE, Ore. – Oklahoma distance runner Brandon Doughty closed out a stellar season by finishing fifth in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase on Saturday, the final day of competition at the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships held at historic Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon.
Doughty, the Big 12 Champion in the event, set the Oklahoma program record two weeks ago at the NCAA West Prelims, only to follow that performance by breaking his record two races in a row, first on Thursday in the semifinal race and then again on Saturday, finishing the final with a time of 8:41.65. That finish earned him first team All-America honors for the first time in his career.
“It feels incredible,” Doughty said. “That was really hard, and then just getting top eight, it is awesome. (The race) went out a little bit slow, but then it deceptively picked up. I didn’t even know we were going that fast until the end, but I just hung on for as long as I could and then kicked.”
“I am really happy for Brandon and really proud of him too,” said distance coach Jason Dunn. “For his last three races of the season to be personal records as well as the school record, and then for him to finish with scoring at Nationals, it is great. This was a long way coming, to see him get to this level, but we knew he could do it and I am very pleased.”
Competing alongside Doughty in the steeplechase was junior Alex Deir, who finished his first season at Oklahoma with a time of 8:57.23 en route to a 10th place finish and second team All-America honors.
“I think Alex did a great job this season,” Dunn explained. “This race was a little bit tough. For Alex, it is amazing that he got here. I would have loved seeing him score for us, but it is nice to know that he is going to be able to come back next year and this experience will help him tremendously.”
Sophomore Garrett Snow was the third Oklahoma javelin thrower to earn All-America status this weekend, earning second team honors after placing 10th in Saturday’s men’s final with a throw of 218-4. The Oregon native joins Deir and javelin thrower Elizabeth Herrs as Sooner student-athletes to finish 10th in their respective competition, just outside the scoring positions of the top eight.
“Garrett had a pretty solid performance,” said throws coach Brian Blutreich. “Coming in 10th is great for a person who was unknown coming into the season. This is definitely some good motivation for next year, to get into the finals. For him to get a little taste of the big time is a good thing.
“As a whole, his season has been outstanding. We have done just about everything we wanted to accomplish.”
The Sooners came into the weekend with six qualifiers, turning five of those into All-Americans. Doughty joined women’s javelin runner-up Avione Allgood, who competed on Wednesday, as a first team All-American. Deir and Snow join Herrs as Sooners named to the second team. Senior Ashley Kowalewski was the sixth Sooner to compete in Oregon, finishing 22nd in the javelin.
“It was good,” said head coach Jim VanHootegem. “The people who came here performed well. Ashley Kowalewski, our only senior in the meet, has been an emotional leader for our team. Hopefully, a lot of our kids learned from her this year. We are going to miss her spirit. Everyone else is back. That is going to be the core group that leads our team next year.
“On one hand, we would like to bring more athletes to the meet and become a bigger factor. On the other hand, I am really proud of the efforts of the kids who were here. There were some great performances.”
VanHootegem described his first season as head coach of Oklahoma track and field as a very positive experience, but he has his sights set on the future of OU track and field.
“I think it went pretty well,” VanHootegem added. “There were some good people who graduated last year who I am sure were some of the leaders on the team. We asked other people to step up and fill the void and I think we did a good job of doing that.
“We want to get better," he continued. "We want to get more people in and we are excited about that. The young people we have in our program who didn’t make it to this meet can be here next year. We also have a lot of recruits who want to be at Oklahoma.”