O'Hara Wins NCAA Pole Vault Title; Soong Takes Fourth In The Hammer
May 29, 2002
2002 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships
Wednesday, May 29th Results (Day One)
Women (3 events)-1. UCLA: 15, 2. Clemson and North Carolina State: 10, 4. Liberty, South Florida, Nebraska and Colorado--8, 15: USC--3.
Men (2 events)-1. Georgia: 15, 2. LSU: 11, 3. SMU and Wichita State: 8, 5. Depaul and Southern: 6.
UCLA Women's Head Coach Jeanette Bolden: "We've stressed to our team that this four-day meet is a roller coaster ride, with ups and downs. We're not looking too far ahead and we're definitely not looking behind. Tracy O'Hara is one of our captains and a senior. She did a great job today (before the meet in the hotel) rallying this team together. She's been battling injury and her coach, Anthony Curran, has done a great job getting her ready for this meet. I'm so very happy for her. Cari Soong also came through today for the Bruins and the team race. In the 800m prelims, Tiffany Burgess ran a good time, she just happened to be in a very fast heat. She did the best she could and we now have to rally around her to keep her spirits up."
Pole Vault-senior Tracy O'Hara, in a jump-off, cleared 13-9.25, then watched Liberty's Andrea Wildrick miss at that height, and captured the 2002 NCAA Women's Outdoor pole vault championship (and picked up 10 team points for the Bruins). O'Hara, who is the current collegiate leader (14-3.25) and collegiate outdoor record-holder (14-7.25), has been slowed by chronic lower back pain for the last five weeks (she placed third at the Pac-10 two weeks ago). It is O'Hara's third NCAA title (she won both the NCAA Outdoor and Indoor championships as a sophomore in 2000).
"When you are running down the runway and when you are vaulting, you really don't feel anything," O'Hara said. "I erase it (the pain) out of my head completely when I'm out there. It's great for a victory in my last collegiate meet. As a senior, I wanted them one for the team. This means so much to me and the team."
Hammer-sophomore Cari Soong placed fourth (getting five team points for UCLA), with a mark of 209-7. Freshman Jessica Cosby did not make the final round, placing 18th with a mark of 180-10.
"I'm very happy," Soong said. "After fouling at the Pac-10 meet, I was nervous. But my coach (Art Venegas) has really helped me out, kept me focused and got me ready for this meet. USC had two throwers in this event and I wanted to place ahead of them (USC placed sixth and ninth in the women's hammer).
400m IH-sophomore Sheena Johnson, the two-time defending Pac-10 champion, won her heat in a time of 57.65, fourth fastest of the day, and advances to Friday's final (as a true freshman last season, Johnson qualified in this event but did not make the final). On Thursday, Johnson will run in the 100m hurdle prelims.
"My goal today was to make the finals and so I concentrated a lot on winning my heat. My time was about average and I am definitely going to have to run faster if I am going to compete in the finals and be a contender."
800m-junior Tiffany Burgess, who entered the meet with the nation's top time (2:03.73), placed sixth in her very fast heat with a time of 2:05.04 and was not able to advance to Friday's final. Nine runners advance to Friday's final and Burgess' mark was tenth.
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