May 17, 2008
Kevin Craddock, Greg Garza and Boldizsar Kocsor led the Bruin men to a third-place team finish at the 2008 Pac-10 Championships in Tempe, AZ as all three men won individual Pac-10 crowns in their respective events. With the trio's event wins, the Bruins had four individual champions during the meet as pole vaulter Bobby Talley won the vault on Friday night.
The Bruins had a great team competition with several athletes posting lifetime-best performances and improved regional qualifiers and are definitely picking up steam towards a strong finish at Nationals in four weeks. UCLA was third overall with 108 points, while Oregon won its second consecutive team crown with 144.5 points.
Senior All-American Greg Garza made his final Pac-10 Championship one to remember as he won his third consecutive discus crown in dramatic fashion on the final throw of the competition. Garza led all competitors until the penultimate thrower, Martin Maric from California (191-2), moved ahead on his final throw of the competition. Garza answered that with a winning throw of 198-10 to win his third conference crown. He becomes only the third man in Pac-10 history to win three discus crowns (UCLA's John Godina-`93, '94 `95 and Stanford's Dave Weill-'61, '62, `63).
"All I can say is that was awesome," said Garza. "Last year I won it on my last throw, and this year I had to do it again. I had a great throw and it just blows my mind that I had to do it on the last throw for two straight years."
On being one of only three men in Pac-10 history to win three discus crowns
"I did not know that. It is a great honor to be put in the same category as someone like John Godina. He was one of the best throwers in college and I feel like winning three titles raises me to another level."
Kocsor won the second Pac-10 title of his career with his win in the hammer as he threw a new school record of 224-10 to win (old record, 224-8 by Dave Wilson in 1989. The mark ranks sixth in the NCAA this season and also broke Kocsor's junior class record (222-6).
"It feels really good and I know there's a lot more left in the tank," said Kocsor. "I'm really happy to finally get the school record because it takes a lot of pressure off of me. I was so close my freshman year throwing 219 and could taste the record, but never got it.
"The Pac-10 is really tough and anything can happen. I'm honored to again be the Pac-10 champion and very happy to be able to get our team 10 points towards the team total. This is just a building block for regionals and nationals and now I just have to stay focused the next few weeks. I don't have to worry about the school record anymore and now I can just focus on stepping my game up to make nationals."
Craddock defended his 2007 Pac-10 high hurdles title with a win on Saturday (13.58) as he became only the third Bruin in school history to win at least two 110m crowns.
"I felt really comfortable coming into the competition," said Craddock. "I wasn't running for a great time, but I was running to win for my grandfather. It means a lot to me that I was able to do this for him. I ran really relaxed and felt good. I'm happy I was able to help the team out and pick up 10 points."
"We were strongly anticipating these three men to win their events, but it's not always easy as Greg found out today," said head coach Art Venegas. "They were ready and knew what it took to be champions because all three of them have been on the top spot before. They dug in when they needed to and took care of business."
Freshman Cory Primm had a huge run in the 800m as he ran a new lifetime-best of 1:47.75 to finish third overall. His time moves him to No. 6 all-time in UCLA history and moves him into the top-10 in the NCAA this season.
The freshmen high jumpers came up big with 6.50 team points as Jonathan Clark was fifth with a clearance of 6-10.75 and Taylor Hobson was sixth with a mark of 6-8.75. Clark also picked up six points with his third-place finish in the triple jump (50-6.75).
Junior Laef Barnes picked up two points for the Bruins as he finished seventh the 1500m in a time of 3:44.77.
The 4x100m team of seniors Chris Bencomo and Elijah Wells, freshman Quentin Powell and sophomore Stan Griffin finished eighth (41.60) to pick up a point for the Bruins. Bencomo, a pole vaulter and former all-conference relay runner at his junior college, was filling in for an injured Brandon Smith who injured his hamstring in the 100m prelims on Friday. Griffin also placed fifth in the 200m with a time of 21.21.
Senior Austin Ramos finished 12th in the 5000m (14:33.50), but was unable to achieve the regional standard in the event. During the second lap of the race, Ramos lost his shoe and had to run without it for the rest of the race. This was Ramos' first race since the indoor season as he spent most of outdoors recovering from a stress reaction in his leg which he suffered during the indoors. Ramos ends his career as a three-time All-American (2x cross country, outdoor 5000m), a school record in the 3000m (7:55.60), fifth all-time in the two-mile (8:41.57) and seventh all-time in the 5000m (13:51.73) and 10,000m (29:12.84).
Junior Kyle Shackleton, who was the third-place finisher in the 10,000m on Friday night, placed 17th in the 5000m with a time of 14:40.92.
Final Team Scores
1. Oregon, 144.5 points
2. Arizona State, 134 points
3. UCLA, 108 points
4. California, 81.5 points
5. Stanford, 79 points
6. Washington State, 73.5 points
7. USC, 69.5 points
8. Arizona, 65 points
9. Washington, 63 points