In the final day of the 2018 NCAA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, Oregon’s women’s team, with nine athletes and two relay teams, scored 39 points for a seventh-place finish, unable to defend last year’s title that capped off the Triple Crown.
The Ducks started the day off hot with a second-place finish in the 4×100-meter relay and a first-place finish by sophomore Jessica Hull in the 1,500 meters, taking Oregon from unranked with no points to a second-place ranking with 18.
Following the 4×100, freshmen Jasmin Reed and Lauren Rain Williams cheered for Hull in the 1,500 before stepping into the media tent.
“We kinda just had to stay calm and use [the high emotion] as a positive aspect, instead of letting the moment become too big and making sure we use the energy to get the baton around the track,” Reed said.
She joked that she wasn’t sure how the team was doing during her leg, the third.
“I didn’t really see anything, honestly, because I have a lot of trouble with the tape aspect of the relay, so I was kinda just really focused in on being patient and watching my tape and making sure I took off at the right time.”
But, things quickly turned sour for the Ducks in the 100-meter hurdles and 100-meter dash for 4×100 relay runners, juniors Alaysha Johnson and Ariana Washington.
As rain began to dump onto Hayward Field, Johnson took the line for the hurdles. Two false starts and an adjustment to her starting blocks later, Johnson crossed the line in 13.22 seconds with a seventh-place finish.
In the 100, Johnson finished last with a time of 11.50.
“I don’t think I’ve seen rain like this in a really long time out here,” Johnson said. “Right before the race started, it started to pour and I was just like, ‘Crap!’ I just tried tried to keep my head straight and my mind clear, and things just didn’t work out for me.”
In the 400 meters, junior Briyahna DesRosiers and sophomore Makenzie Dunmore represented Oregon. Hopes of team title contention riding on DesRosiers and Dunmore were dashed as the two brought in a collective four points for the Ducks.
DesRosiers finished sixth with a time of 52.10 seconds, while Dunmore went down in the final stretch about 50 meters from the finish. She stayed down for about a minute before crossing the finish with an official time of 1:49.13, almost a whole minute behind seventh-place finisher Rachel Misher of LSU.
Dunmore ran the anchor leg in the semifinal of the 4×400 on Thursday, but did not appear in Saturday’s final. DesRosiers, Shae Anderson, Venessa D’Arpino and Hannah Waller represented Oregon, with D’Arpino replacing Dunmore.
The Oregon relay team finished third after an exciting comeback by USC in the final 100 meters to win the title. The Trojans finished first, just 0.05 seconds before second-place finisher Purdue.
In the 800 meters, senior Sabrina Southerland, who was the first-place finisher in her heat of Thursday’s preliminary race and fourth overall, took seventh place with a time of 2:06.99; and in the 5,000 meters, junior Lilli Burdon took third with a time of 15:43.22. Senior Samantha Nadel finished 17th in 16:01.14.
On the field, Chaquinn Cook took 10th in the triple jump with a jump of 43 feet, 4¼ inches.
Hull’s first-place 1,500-meter finish, the only first-place finish for Oregon, was a personal best of 4:08.75 and a bright spot in a mostly rainy and generally disappointing day for Oregon.
“It was kinda nice to feel like I was doing it right,” Hull said. “I think that 10 meters to go I was like ‘I’m gonna take this,’ and I was shocked and so excited and then I crossed the line. To have it actually come true, I was blown away — very special moment.”
Follow Sierra Webster on Twitter @WebsterSierraE