EUGENE--University of Washington senior Jeremy Taiwo (above/photo by Mike Scott) made his final appearance at the NCAA track & field championships in a Husky uniform a memorable one, as he finished second in the decathlon competition with a personal best score of 8239 points, just short of winner Johannes Hock of Texas' 8267 points.
The senior from Newport HS in Bellevue entered the day with the lead after five events with a score of 4389, and got the day started by winning the 110 hurdles in a time of 14.16, good for 954 points.
Hock, the Texas freshman from Germany took over the lead in the discus, as he threw 166-0 (50.61m) for 883 points, while Taiwo could only muster a best of 114-6 (34.90m), scoring 562 points, and well off his best of 137-2 (41.80m).
In the pole vault, Taiwo cleared four bars, including a personal best of 16-0 3/4 (4.90m), before setting yet another personal best of 16-4 3/4 (5.00m) in the series, a clearance worth 910 points.
The penultimate event saw Taiwo throw the javelin 163-7 (49.87m) for 587 points, while Hock launched the spear 192-1 (58.55m) to get 716 points.
For Taiwo to somehow win the national title, he had to beat Hock in the 1500 by about 27 seconds.
Taiwo ran aggressively, and finished third overall with a personal best of 4:16.34 for 837 points, but Hock also ran a personal best, running 4:37.90, worth 694 points to salt away the national title.
Taiwo's score of 8239 makes him the eighth best performer in NCAA history, gives him the best score by an American so far this season, and is the second best score in school history, behind only Mike Ramos' score of 8322 in 1986.
Most importantly, Taiwo attains the IAAF 'A' standard of 8200 points needed to compete in this summer's world championships, as only Olympic champion Ashton Eaton (9039) and reigning world champ Trey Hardee (8671) currently have the score entering the USA championships in two weeks in Des Moines, Iowa.
As defending world champion, Hardee only has to compete at the USA championships to collect his automatic wild card berth to Moscow.
"I went out and did everything I could," said Taiwo. "The throwing events didn't go as well as I wanted them to, that's a testament to how much I need to show up at practice and work on them. Everything else I'm okay with. All in all, there's a lot of ups and downs in the multi, and I'm really happy I got the `A' standard. That's something I really wanted to get this year. I wish I could have finished in first place, but (Hock) had a great two days and there's not much you can do except go out and compete."
In semi-final action Thursday, Oregon's Michael Berry from Rainier Beach HS, who surprisingly did not qualify in the 400 meters Wednesday, anchored the Ducks to a second place finish in the 4 x 400 meter semis, as the team ran 3:04.20.
Bellingham's Becca Friday of the host Ducks, qualified for Saturday's finals in the women's 1500, finishing fourth in 4:17.46.
Spokane's Nathan Weitz, competing for Northern Arizona, finished seventh in his semi in the men's 1500, running 3:44.56.
The Huskies' James Alaka finished eighth in his 200m semi, running 20.97. Teammate Chris Williams was eighth in his 110 hurdles semi in a time of 14.46.
In the women's steeple semis, Washington's Liberty Miller finished 11th in 10:28.27.
On Friday, the Huskies' Logan Miller competes in the women's pole vault, while Christine Babcock and Megan Goethals go in the women's 5000.
University Place resident Andrea Geubelle from the University of Kansas looks to avenge a loss at the West Regionals handed to her by Shanieka Thomas of San Diego State, as the country's top collegiate triple jumpers go head to head.
Geubelle goes into the triple jump finals still stinging from last year's apparent national championship which was taken away after an appeal filed after the competition was apparently over, that bumped her to third in Des Moines.
NOTE: The University of Washington sports information office contributed to this report.