EUGENE, Ore. Utah can boast a pair of high-flying acts, with Weber State's Charles Clinger and Utah State's Dave Hoffman finishing 1-2 in the men's high jump at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Clinger, the world leader in the high jump at 7 feet, 8 1/2 inches and the NCAA indoor champion, won Thursday's event at 7-6 1/2.
Clinger had to go to a jumpoff with Hoffman before winning. The jumpoff began at 7-7 3/4. Both missed their one jump at that height, and both missed again at 7-6 1/2, before Clinger cleared 7-5 1/4 and Hoffman missed. The winning height was determined on the last height Clinger cleared before the jumpoff.
"That was tremendous," Clinger said. "Me and Dave have gone against each other every track meet throughout the year, and he just pushed me all the way. It just came down to a raw, gritty competition."
Hoffman, who entered the event with the nation's sixth-best high jump, had finished 11th in the NCAAs a year ago.
Hoffman's second-place finish was one of two runner-up efforts by the Utah State men Thursday, as the Aggies' James Parker recorded a career-best hammer throw to finish second.
USU was tied for second in the men's team points standings after Thursday's events.
Parker's toss of 240-7 was six feet better than the third-place finisher, but seven feet behind two-time national champion Andras Haklits of Georgia. Parker's previous finishes in the hammer throw at the NCAA included 11th in 1995, fifth in 1999 and fourth last year. The senior from Layton became a four-time All-American in that event.
Parker's long throw came on his second attempt of the day, and he led the field after the first three throws before the finals.
"After the big one I was trying a little bit too hard to better it," Parker said. "I felt I could better it. I didn't feel like that was the big throw in me, and so I think I pushed a little too hard. I got too tight and couldn't let it go and I didn't get it."
Parker will compete in the discus on Friday. He enters that event with the 19th-best toss in the nation.
Other USU competitors Thursday included Brick Bergeson, who finished 14th in the 1,500-meters with a time of 3:47.15 and Joel Johnson, who placed 16th in the decathlon with a score of 5,703 points.
Bergeson's 14th-place finish was just two slots away from qualifying for the 12-man finals. Bergeson was 2.42 seconds away from 12th place. The senior from Blackfoot, Idaho, had run a 3:42.70 for the 12th-best time in the nation earlier in the season but was nearly five seconds behind that time on Thursday with his 3:47.15 clocking.
Johnson, who stood in 12th place after the first day of the decathlon, struggled on Thursday. He scored 834 points, his second most points in the 10-events, in the 110 hurdles on Thursday, but failed to score in the pole vault and the 1,500-meters.
Looking to defend her 10,000-meter title from the 2000 outdoor championships, BYU senior Tara Northcutt struggled with the heat and humidity to finish in a disappointing 18th place.
Northcutt's time of 38:06.21 was more than four minutes off the pace of the winner, Arkansas senior Amy Yoder-Begley, who won in a time of 33:59.96. BYU sophomore Lindsey Thomsen finished in ninth place with a time of 35:09.74.
In the semifinals of the 1,500 meters, 12th-ranked Sharolyn Shields-Thayer of BYU finished sixth in the second heat in a time of 4:22.63. Thayer's time just missed qualifying for the finals by 13 one-hundredths of a second and placed her 13th overall in the event.
In the men's decathlon, BYU sophomore Curtis Pugsley finished 14th in the event with 7,055 points. According to men's coach Mark Robision, Pugsley, who has been battling a lower abdominal strain for the past two months, was unable to perform at peak condition, said BYU men's coach Mark Robison.
Entering Thursday's competition, Pugsley sat in 11th place. The Park Valley, Utah, native turned in a 15.17 in the 110-meter hurdles to remain in 11th place, however a 122-01.00 mark in the discuss dropped Pugsley back to 13th. In the pole vault, Pugsley missed his personal best by nearly two feet, clearing only 14-09.00 to remain in 13th place. A 10th-place finish in the javelin, with a mark of 171-01.00, was good for 620 points.
BYU senior sprinter Kenneth Andam automatically qualified for Friday's semifinals with a 10.25 in the 100 meters, finishing 3rd in the second heat. Andam's mark in the 100 meters marks his fastest time since turning in a personal-best 10.12 at the Weber State Invitational on April 14, 2001.
Without a star to carry them, Oregon has somehow grabbed the lead midway through the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Led by Santiago Lorenzo's decathlon title, the host Ducks had 27 points after Thursday's second day of competition. That's 11 more than second-place Georgia, Southern California and Utah State, and 26 more than defending champion Stanford.
While Oregon has five NCAA team titles, the Ducks really don't figure to challenge for this year's championship. The situation might be different if they had someone who could leap as far as Savante Stringfellow.
The Ole Miss senior and Superman aficionado won his second straight NCAA long jump title, soaring 27 feet, 1 1/4 inches. Stringfellow's Southeastern Conference rival, LSU junior Walter Davis, finished second with a leap of 26-10 1/2.
The young men have been swapping a red-and-blue Superman T-shirt, depending on who wins the head-to-head competition between the Olympians. Davis last wore the shirt after winning the SEC title.
"It's been going back and forth between me and Walter, and now it's mine for good," said Stringfellow, whose action-hero fixation also includes tattoos on his left biceps and left leg.
After his victory, the brash Stringfellow issued a challenge to his idol, world record-holder Mike Powell. The two will be back at Oregon's Hayward Field later this month for the U.S. championships. Powell is making a comeback after a four-year absence.
Oregon has produced 47 NCAA champions but never one in the decathlon. Lorenzo, a senior from Argentina, took care of that with a dramatic finish in the 1,500.
Georgia junior David Lemen, who led entering the race, started quickly but then faded out of contention. Tennessee's Stephen Harris moved into the lead after a quarter-mile, but Lorenzo held his ground and finished second in the race in 4 minutes, 21.84 seconds.
Lorenzo, who needed to beat Harris by 2 seconds to win the title, looked back over his left shoulder after crossing the line. He bested Harris by nearly 4 seconds.
Lorenzo finished with 7,889 points, a career best by 163. Harris, the first-day leader, was second with 7,871 points; Lemen was third with 7,790.
The other winner in Thursday's finals was women's shot putter Christina Tolson of UCLA at 57-0 3/4.
Tennessee's Leonard Scott and freshman Justin Gatlin, heat winners in the men's 200 Wednesday, also won their heats in the 100 Thursday. Scott was clocked in 10.05, the fastest by a collegian this year, Gatlin ran a wind-aided 10.08.