In an exciting end to the NCAA Championships, the Oregon Ducks finished in first place to secure the first-ever Women’s Track & Field Triple Crown. This outdoor title will be displayed with their 2016-17 Indoor and Cross Country Titles. What many thought may have been a runaway victory for the powerhouse Ducks, came down to a nail-biter finish that placed all the marbles on the 4x400m.
Here’s the scenario. Oregon and Georgia were in a battle for first place with one event to go. Sprinter Deajah Stevens fell during her 200m finals and failed to cross the finish line, earning a ‘DNF/disqualified’ and did not pick up the 1 point her team would have been awarded. At that point, Georgia led the team race with 62.2 points, Oregon had 54. A second-place finish in the 4×400 would have left the Ducks two-tenths of a point short of the Triple Crown and given Georgis the Team Title.
But the Ducks would not be denied.
“It was awesome,” said Stevens, who recovered from her fall to run the second leg on the 4×400. “We’ve had talks about getting the Triple Crown, and we were all so excited about it. I knew that we were going to come out and get it, because all the girls want the same thing and strive for the same goals. I knew we’d put it together when we had to.”
Freshman Makenzie Dunmore ran the lead leg for the UO women and trailed only USC when she handed the baton to Stevens. The Olympian then handed off to senior Elexis Guster, who earlier in the day finished sixth in the open 400 and then, in the relay, provided Oregon the lead by powering past the Trojans in the Bowerman Curve.
Rogers took off for the final leg with Oregon in front and was passed by the USC anchor in the first turn. But Rogers reclaimed the lead for the Ducks soon after, and road a wave of crowd noise down the homestretch to give the UO women first place in the race, the NCAA Outdoor team title and a Triple Crown for 2016-17.
“My heart was beating so fast,” Rogers said. “We prayed about it — you know I’m all about prayer. It was something that we needed to get. I’m just glad that I was able to stay composed and be patient.”
Oregon’s victory celebration was delayed first by two Georgia protests — of Stevens’ participation in the relay after failing to finish the 200, and of her relay leg. The Bulldogs wanted to clarify that Stevens had been officially disqualified from the 200 rather than simply failing to finish, the latter requiring medical clearance prior to participation in another event. And Georgia wanted officials to review whether Stevens had remained in Oregon’s lane long enough before breaking to the inside with the rest of the field in the backstretch of the relay’s second leg.
Neither protest was successful. A thunderstorm that moved in over Hayward Field further delayed Oregon’s victory celebration. But celebrate, the Ducks eventually did.
“Is that a way to end a track meet, or what?” Johnson asked.
— ESPNU (@ESPNU) June 11, 2017
— #FirstTo500 (@Pac12Network) June 11, 2017