NCAA Track Championships Update - Day One
The 2009 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships is underway at the John McDonell Field on the campus of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark. There are plenty of avenues to follow your Golden Gopher tracksters at this year’s national meet. Gophersports.com will provide live updates throughout the Championships along with video highlights of your Gopher competing. Check out the other links listed above for live video coverage and live results.
Lightning in the Fayetteville area has suspended the NCAA meet. Gophers Alicia Rue in the pole vault and Matt Fisher in the high jump were just about to begin their qualifying rounds when the track was evacuated. The radar is filled with color so it might be a lengthy delay. Stay tuned.
OK, there have been some impressive lightning displays. One clap of thunder actually shook the press box. I just received a call from Gary WIlson and the coaches have been told it could be a 2-hour delay. Could be a long niight. The event affected the most with this is the 5,000 meters. There are several athletes in that race that are doubling in the meet. The other events on hold right now are the pole vault and high jump. It wouldn't be too difficult to move those events to a different day.
The rain has stopped and there is some action on the track but it's only the grounds crew with leaf blower and squegees working on the pole vault, high jump and long jump areas. Looks like we may get this going again. No official word, however.
An announcement has been make that the meet will be resumed at 10:15 p.m. We are waiting to see if this happens but with a 3 hour, 15 minutes delay, the start time of the men's 5,000 meters in which Hassan Mead and Chris Rombough are set to compete could start as late as 12:30 p.m.
The fiield events to be contested yet tonight are all expected to start at 10:15 p.m., meaning Alicia Rue (pole vault) and Matt Fisher (high jump) will be in action.
The picture posted with this update is really the sunset. Well, it might as well be the sunrise. The men's 5,000 meters will begin at 12:40 p.m. Chris Rombough is in the first heat. Hassan Mead will take to the track even later as a competitor in the second heat.
The buzz in the press box right now is about how this delay might affect Oregon Olympian Galen Rupp. Rupp will run in the first heat of the 5,000 and then 21 hours later will to the line in the 10,000-meter run final. Oregon also figures in the men's team title chase so this will be an interesting story lilne to follow.
For now, let's look at our Gopher field event athletes Alicia Rue and Matt Fisher.
Rue is making her third NCAA outdoor appearnace and is seeded third coming in. She has enjoyed an amazing outdoor season clearing 14 feet twice and setting new Minnesota, Big Ten Conference, Big Ten Championships and NCAA Midwest Region Championships records. Rue is a two-time NCAA Indoor All-American, including a national runner-up finish earlier this season.
Somehow is might be fitting that Rue had to endure a weather delay before competing at this NCAA Championships. Why? Well, there was some major drama in getting her pole vault poles down here to Fayetteville from Minneapolis. These days, the pole are shipped ahead of time to the site of the meet. Rue's poles made it as far as Chicago before the shipping slip went missing. The only way to get the poles here in time for today's, now tonight's meet, was to drive them here. So, the poles were put on a truck that drove all night to get here to Fayetteville. The poles arrived here this morning at about 5 a.m.
High jumper Matt Fisher is making his first NCAA outdoor national meet appearance. Fisher made his NCAA debut at the 2009 indoor meet but failed to make a height. Fisher's jump of 7-4 1/2 is tied with three other competitors for the best in the nation this season.
As the midnight hour approaches, there is some good news and some bad news for our Gophers. The good is that Alicia Rue easily qualified for the final in the pole vault. She made all three of her qualifying vaults with her best at 13-5 1/4. The final is scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m.
The season ended on a sour note for Matt Fisher in the high jump. After clearing the opening height of 6-8 3/4 on his third attempt, Fisher slipped on his approach injuring his left ankle, on his second attempt at 6-10 3/4. He was forced to withdraw from the compeition
The first day of the NCAA Championships finished on a bright note for the Golden Gophers as Hassan Mead won his heat of the 5,000-meter run in a time of 14:00.79. Mead ran a patient race, hanging with the top six until making his move in the final 800 meters. The Gopher sophomore positioned himself on the outside shoulder of the leader then dashed to the lead in the final 300 meters. The final is on Friday evening. Chris Rombough also competed in the event and ran a time of 14:09.79 but failed to advance.