In a day that is typically devoid of drama, Oregon senior Kyree King gave Ducks fans a reason to watch at the NCAA Track and Field Championship preliminary rounds on Wednesday.
King, a former Western Kentucky standout who transferred to Oregon for his final year, played a part in three different school records on Wednesday and qualified for three finals.
King finished fourth overall in the 100-meter dash in 10 seconds flat to top Don Coleman’s school record of 10.11 that had stood since 1978. He finished second in his heat behind Tennessee junior Christian Coleman, who broke the NCAA record in 9.82 seconds — good for the fastest time in the world this year.
“I knew what (Coleman) was gonna do in the race,” King said. “He’s a great starter. So I just thought that if I could get out with him, I would be okay. He blasted off the blocks and threw me for a loop, but I had to keep it under control.”
King later went on to finish fifth and qualify in the 200-meter in 20.27 seconds, shattering another of Don Coleman’s school records in the process. To begin the day, King also ran a leg of Oregon’s 4×100-meter relay, which finished fourth and also broke a school record.
“This field — 100, 200, 4×1 — is so fast, I just knew prelims was gonna have to be a final,” King said. “All these guys are fast and if you don’t watch yourself, you might get taken out.”
King was the brightest spot on an otherwise bleak day for the Ducks. Oregon tallied just 3.5 points total and sits in 24th place with 6-of-21 events completed. Texas A&M leads the team standings with 21.5 points, while Virginia trails closely behind with 20.
Senior pole vaulter Cole Walsh scored the Ducks’ only points with a fifth place finish to cap off his collegiate career. Walsh had no problem clearing the first three heights of the day, and cleared his final height of 17 feet, 10 ½ inches on his first attempt. But once the bar was a pushed to 18-2 1/2, Walsh and several other contenders had their progress halted.
“Once the bar moved up to (18-2 ½) the wind changed a little bit,” Walsh said. “As much as I would like to say it shouldn’t affect me, it did. I couldn’t really get the pole down.”
A clearance at that height would have tied Walsh’s personal-best. His fifth-place finish was an improvement over his seventh-place mark in 2016.
The Ducks had a chance to bring home points on several other occasions, but came up scoreless in three final events throughout the day. Oregon freshman Tanner Anderson finished 13th in the 10,000-meter run, Cody Danielson finished 12th in the javelin and Cullen Prena took 24th in the hammer throw.
“We’re trying to scrounge for as many points as we can anywhere else,” Walsh said.
Oregon could potentially get a large chunk of points from King on Saturday and Marcus Chambers will be in contention for a top-three finish in the 400-meter after finishing third in prelims.
Mitch Modin and Joe Delgado sit in 17th and 19th in the decathlon, respectively, and could each sneak into scoring contention with a strong second day on Friday. Blake Haney qualified for the 1500-meter final and will be among the favorites in Friday’s final.
Follow Jarrid Denney on Twitter @jarrid_denney