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6 9 21NCAA Day 1

Jumpin' JuVaughn, Ignores Rain, Chases Triple-Double In Gleaming New Venue

 

June 9, 2021

Three years ago venerable Hayward Field hosted the NCAA Div. I Outdoor Track & Field Championships - a track meet we all knew would be the final gathering in the beloved facility. The old Hayward, originally constructed in 1921, would soon be completely restructured. Back then, sadness - even melancholy - was in the air as a good number of died-in-the-wool fans had their concerns that track & field in Eugene, Oregon would never be the same again.

In a way, the doubters were right: Hayward Field will never be the same again. But in a good way. Wait until you see it, feel it, enjoy it, and you note the special touches that have been added to make this futuristic, European-flavored venue a fully-appointed 21ts century cathedral for the sport we all love. Yet at the same time - with amenities such as museum-like Hayward Hall - the rich history of Hayward and U of O has been thoughtfully preserved in ways that are, frankly, more prominent than was the case with the older, replaced version of Hayward Field.

The NCAA Day One performance suggested that the collegiate men knew this first championship gathering in the new stadium provided a special moment. No Day One competition affirmed that stronger than the men's long jump final where LSU's JuVaughn Harrison dominated. The Tiger immediately grabbed the lead when he stretched out a 26'101⁄2" jump on his opening attempt and he never looked back. Unfazed by the rain, Harrison strung together an impressive series: [26'101⁄2", 27' 11⁄2", f, 26'31⁄2", 25'10", f]

After his victory, the 22-year-old reflected on the successful defense of his NCAA national long jump title. "I love competition, so winning a national title against those guys was a big accomplishment for me." On his winning jump of 27'11⁄2", Harrison cited his technical progression. "I think everything was starting to come together. The spacing and how I hit the board," noted the winner who revealed that he has no current plans to turn professional.

Now that the 2021 long jump crown is his, Harrison, who was victorious in the long jump and the high jump in both the 2019 NCAA outdoor championships and the 2021 NCAA indoor championships, has an opportunity to complete a rarest "triple-double" if he can successfully defend his title in the high jump. But the long jump champion knows he must retain his focus. "I'm not going to celebrate yet. I have another one on Friday" he explains. But Harrison does acknowledge that a high ump victory would be something special. "It would be a big accomplishment to walk away with six national titles," admits JuVaughn. With a personal-best clearance of 7'83⁄4" set last month which ranks him #1 on the collegiate list and #2 on the world list, Harrison may well create a little Hayward Magic in Friday afternoon's high jump final.  / Dave Hunter /

Trackside Tidbits

Unexpected rain - sometimes torrential - made for challenging conditions and caused havoc in the sprints, the hurdles, the steeplechase, the pole vault, and the shot put.

In an exciting 10,000 final, nearly a dozen athletes were still in the hunt with less than a kilometer to go. A 57-second final lap capped off by a victory-sealing inside pass on the final homestretch gave Tulsa athlete Patrick Dever the win in a record clocking of 27:41.87 The next 8 athletes that followed all broke 28 minutes and also finished faster than the 42- year old former championship record [28:01.30 / UTEP's Suleiman Nyambui. 1979]

In the semi-final round of the 4x100m relay, LSU's anchorman Terrence Laird fueled the sprint wars on the homestretch by repeatedly glancing back at the Houston anchor as if to say, "Is that all you got?"

North Carolina A&T anchor Javonte Harding prompted Penn Relays-like whoops from the crowd with a most impressive anchor leg in A&T's 4x100m relay semi-final.

After a slipped starting block gave Florida sprint star Joseph Fnhnbullen an awful start in his 100m semi-final round, the Gator uncorked a strong close to barely make the 100m final. He looked much better in his 200m semi with his 20.05 clocking proving to be the fastest of the day.

Miami University's Finley McClear found another gear in the final 200 meters to move from 5th to 2nd in his semi-final round of the 800m. Denied the 2021 NCAA indoor 800m title when Oregon's Charlie Hunter nipped him at the line to win by .01 seconds, McClear will have a shot of revenge in Friday's final.

A final round throw of 252'7" gave LSU frosh Tzuriel Pedigo a buzzer-beater victory in the final of the men's javelin throw.

With 4384 points, Georgia sophomore Karel Tilga leads the decathlon after Day One.

Wednesday's official attendance was announced at 5060. But that appeared to be an extremely generous attendance figure.

After 6 finals on Day One, LSU is the leader in the men's team race with 24 points. Mississippi State is in 2nd with 17 points. The decathlon concludes on Thursday. And the 14 remaining men's finals will take place on Friday.

 

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Dunaway AwardAt the 2019 annual meeting of the Track and Field Writers of America, Dave was presented with the James Dunaway Memorial Award “for track & field journalism excellence.”

2020 Mid-American Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships

Dave HunterOn February 28-29, Dave served as the Color Analyst on the live ESPN3 broadcast of this championship gathering. Coverage of this 2-day conference championship can be viewed on the ESPN app.

Dave Hunter

Dave HunterDave Hunter is a track & field journalist, announcer, and broadcaster.  Dave reports on the premier track & field gatherings around the globe, frequently serves as an arena or stadium announcer for championship events, and has undertaken foreign and domestic broadcast assignments in the sport.

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