Olympics Summer

Canada's Brianne Theisen wins NCAA heptathlon event

Canada's Brianne Theisen came into Friday with a 207-point lead in the heptathlon, and she left it with the second-highest score in NCAA meet history.
Oregon's Brianne Theisen leaps to the pit during the long jump event in the heptathlon competition at the NCAA outdoor track and field championships, Friday, June 8, 2012. (Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press)

Canada's Brianne Theisen came into Friday with a 207-point lead in the heptathlon, and she left it with the second-highest score in NCAA meet history.

Theisen, from Humboldt, Sask., cruised to 6,440 points at the NCAA outdoor championships, the best since Diane Guthrue-Gresham of George Mason scored 6,527 back in 1995.

The University of Oregon athlete now has seven total NCAA championships, a mark topped by just three women.

It was the third straight NCAA title for Theisen, who said the key to her success was to not put too much pressure on herself.

"The harder you try — I mean, the shot put, the javelin — the worse they are. So it's kind of like I just went through the motions and didn't try and it was phenomenal," Theisen said.

The Ducks didn't get the points they were hoping for out of the 800 though. Anne Kesselring, the defending champion, finished fifth as BYU's Nachelle Nackie won in 2:01.06.

Still, Oregon is in position to win its first outdoor title since 1985 on Saturday, while LSU could win a record 15th team championship.  

There was plenty of suspense in the men's 100 metres. For a precious few seconds, nobody knew whether Illinois' Andrew Riley, Auburn's Harry Adams or Florida State's Maurice Mitchell would be declared the winner.

Well, almost nobody. Riley knew his lean was just enough to make him a national champion.

Riley crossed in 10.272, two-hundredths of a second ahead of Adams and five-hundredths faster than Mitchell in a mild upset Friday night at Drake Stadium.

"I knew it was going to come down to a lean," Riley said. "I remember my coach telling me to just punch my arms as hard as you can and open your stride. I did that and the lean and I got it. I knew I had it."

The meet concludes on Saturday with the LSU and Oregon women tied for first with 40 points apiece. The Florida men lead by eight points over Virginia Tech as they try for their first outdoor title after capturing the last three indoor crowns.

Oregon's English Gardner didn't need to lean to take the women's 100, powering to the lead out of the blocks and holding off a charging Kimberlyn Duncan to win in 11.10

Gardner took pride in being able to finish the last 40 metres strong. That had been a problem in the past for the sophomore, who faded late and finished seventh in the NCAA meet in 2011.

"I worked so hard last year and fell so short. I wanted to just come back and redeem myself," Gardner said. "I definitely came out here with a lot of fire and a lot of intensity and wanted to win."

Though Gardner held off Duncan and her LSU teammate Semoy Hackett, those two Tigers still picked up 14 crucial points in the team title race.

In the men's 800, favourite Charles Jock of UC-Irvine used the memory of losing by four-hundredths of a second in 2011 as fuel to push him to a convincing win.

Jock took charge early in the race and dared the field to try to chase him down. They didn't, as Jock won in 1:45.59 with Iowa's Erik Sowinski second in 1:45.90.

"This feels like redemption. I've played that video so many times. I must have played it 20 times this week. It was the worst feeling in the world having worked for 798 metres," Jock said of losing to Virginia's Robby Andrews last year.

Florida's Tony McQuay (44.58) and Illinois's Ashley Spencer (50.95) both set collegiate marks for 2012 in winning their respective 400s.

Arizona junior Brigetta Barrett cleared 6 feet, 4 inches to win the women's high jump for the second straight year, while Oklahoma's Tia Brooks won the women's shot put at 60-6.

Southern Utah's Cameron Levins swept the 5,000 and 10,000 races, winning the 5,000 on Friday night in 13:40.05 — including a 54.4 in his final 400 metres.

Levins has scored as many points, 20, as the Texas A&M men and women have combined for. That statistic is proof enough that the Aggies will likely see their streak of sweeping the men's and women's team titles end at three years in a row.

For the Gators men, Saturday could provide a breakthrough that's been years in the making. Florida has finished as the runners-up four times since 2004.