Rankin Nearly Doubles in 800m/1500m, Johnson Defends West Region 400m Hurdle Title
Eugene, OR - After lighting and thunderstorms suspended competition for nearly two hours, postponing the steeplechase and 4x400m relay, and halting competition in the triple jump and hammer throw, Art Venegas' No. 15 UCLA Bruins and the two-time defending West Region Champions finished third overall (71.33 pts.), qualifying seven athletes automatically to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, June 8-11, hosted by Sacramento State. On the day, the Bruins had two individual meet champions and qualified seven athletes automatically to Nationals.
Athletes automatically qualify to the NCAA Outdoor with a top-five finish (top-three for relays), and seven to eight at-large spots will go to the sixth through eighth place finishers (based on marks from the national list) in all four regions.
Final Men's Team Standings (top-5 of 23 teams)
With 250 meters to go in the 1500m, senior Jon Rankin, who had been running in second the majority of the race behind Cal Poly SLO's Ryan Moorcroft, took control of the race and went on to win in a new West Region meet record time of 3:44.07.
In the 800m in a race that mirrored Pac-10's two weeks ago, the race came down to the wire as Washington's Ryan Brown and Rankin crossed the finish line simultaneously in a new meet record time of 1:48.20. Brown (1:48.191) was deemed the champion after taking the time to the nearest thousandth of a decimal (Rankin ran 1:48.195).
"I started celebrating too early and it was a big mistake,' said Rankin. "It was pure immaturity, but I have to take my hat off to Ryan because he is a great finisher and deserves to win.
On setting a meet record in both events: "It's always great to win, but breaking meet records is icing on the cake. It's a double bonus when you can win and break a record at the same time."
Junior Martell Munguia ran a gutsy race in the 800m as he stayed near the top-three throughout the race. Munguia finished fourth overall with a time of 1:48.91, and will join Rankin in Sacramento in two weeks in the 800m race.
Junior Erik Emilsson, whose 3000m steeplechase race had been delayed by an hour and 45 minutes due to the inclement weather, came back to finish fifth (8:42.16), and automatically moves on to the NCAA meet.
A complete upset occurred in the pole vault as 12 of the 23 competitors no-heighted, including the top-three finishers in the Pac-10 and two of the top vaulters in the NCAA. Senior Yoo Kim, the 2005 Pac-10 champion and 10th-best pole vaulter in the nation, did not clear a height in the competition and will not compete at the NCAA meet. Oregon phenom Tommy Skipper also no-heighted and will not move on to Nationals.
In the 400m hurdles, sophomore Brandon Johnson defended his 2004 title, winning in a time of 50.12. Senior Jonathan Williams, who had been running nearly, stride for stride with Johnson through the race, finished third, and running 51.07.
On running into the head wind: The head wind was definitely a factor today as you can see from the times, but you can definitely push past it," said Johnson.
On teammate Jonathan Williams: "He's a fighter. He said he was going to beat me at Pac-10's if he got an inside lane and today he had that lane, but it came down to who wanted it the most."
Senior Tony Golston who has had a tough road back from a foot injury he sustained during the indoor season, finished fourth in the 110m hurdles, automatically advancing him to the NCAA Outdoor.
"It was a slow time for me, but I'm just happy to get the chance to train for two more weeks and run at NCAA's," said Golston.
Senior Craig Everhart, the defending 400m West Region champion, finished fourth, running 46.50, automatically qualifying him for the Outdoor meet in two weeks.
In the 4x400m relay, the foursome of senior Mario Bassani and Denye' Versher, junior Craig Everhart and sophomore Brandon Johnson placed fourth (3:08.59, season-best), and will have to wait and see if they receive an at-large bid. The relay team was in contention for a top-three finish, but a collision with Oregon after the hand-off to the anchor leg runners, slowed the Bruins down, costing them a top finish.
In the triple jump, UCLA had three athletes competing: freshmen Michael Johnson, Jr. and Dominique Easterling, and junior Demetre Howard. Easterling placed 13th (48-8), Johnson finished 16th (48-3.50) and Howard was 18th (46-4.75).
Junior Andrew Ninow placed 14th in the hammer throw with a toss of 190-0.
In all, the Bruins have qualified seven athletes to the NCAA Outdoor Championships automatically - Craig Everhart (400m), Jon Rankin (800m/1500m), Martell Munguia (800m), Brandon Johnson (400mH), Jonathan Williams (400mH), Erik Emilsson (steeplechase), Jeremy Silverman (shot put).
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