Sunday, May 18, 2014

Dawgs' Derrick Daigre & Diamara Planell Cruz; Cougs' CJ Allen win Pac-12 titles...

PULLMAN--University of Washington junior 800 meter runner Derrick Daigre (left/photo by Paul Merca) led from wire to wire to win his first conference title at the Pac-12 track and field championships at Mooberry Track on the campus of Washington State University.

After a 56.50 first 400 in which he led, he upped the pace with a 53.37 second lap, crossing the line in 1:49.86, holding off the charge of UCLA's Nick Hartle, who finished in 1:50.40.

Washington State's Jesse Jorgensen was fourth in 1:51.01, with the Husky duo of Izaic Yorks and Brad Whitley went 6-7 in 1:51.56, and 1:51.95.

Daigre admitted he was practically running for his life up front. It was crazy. “I got out a little harder than I expected to and I just got stuck in the front,” he said. “I just had to run that race scared and get to the line as quick as I could. There wasn’t really any thought into it. Do anything to get to that line – that was the only strategy I had.”

“It’s a blessing,” Daigre said. “I honestly can’t believe it. I crossed the line first and I was just in disbelief that I was there. I’ve beat up my hamstring a lot over the years and had a lot of setbacks. To come out here and win a race after everything – it’s everything I’ve ever wanted. It feels awesome. I’m happy to be here.”

In the men's 400 hurdles, Washington State freshman CJ Allen ran a strong race to win in a time of 51.14, holding off Oregon frosh Devon Allen, who ran 51.19.  WSU's Daniel Zmuda was eighth in 55.04.

The race featured five freshmen and three sophomores in the finals, which will make this event even more competitive in the years to come.

“Champion. That sounds perfect, that’s exactly what I have been working so hard for all year,” Allen said. “When you get to big meets its (fast race) going to happen. PRs are going to happen, just the competitive edge for this group of guys, I mean, coming in we are pretty much all freshmen, I think two sophomores in the bunch. To know those guys are going to be there for the next three years is just awesome.”

Rainier Beach HS alum and Oregon senior Michael Berry decisively won the men's 400 in a time of 45.05 in what was supposed to be a showdown between himself and Australian Olympian Steven Solomon of Stanford, who was well back in second in 45.75.

Tacoma freshman Marcus Chambers of Oregon was eighth in 47.42.

Washington's Diamara Planell Cruz broke her own Puerto Rican national record to win the women's pole vault in a back-and-forth battle with UCLA's Natasha Kolbo with a jump of 14-0 1/2 (4.28m). Kolbo cleared 13-10 1/2 (4.23m), with Husky freshman Liz Quick third at 13-4 1/2 (4.08m).

Defending champ Kristine Felix of Washington State tied for sixth at 13-0 3/4 (3.98m).

Courtesy of, here is a video interview with Planell Cruz:

On his final jump, Seattle native Darian Brooks of Stanford won the men's triple jump with a leap of 52-6 3/4 (16.02m) to beat Arizona State's Josh Dixon, who jumped 51-1 3/4 (15.59m).

Defending champion Kasen Covington of the University of Washington was fourth at 50-10 (15.49m).  Washington State's PJ Benedictus was sixth at 48-11 1/2 (14.92m), and teammate Tay'lor Eubanks was seventh 48-6 1/4 (14.79m).

Brooks had been limited in competition this season due to a heel injury.  He only triple jumped once this season at the Stanford Invitational.

 “I thought to myself, I spent all this time since September working for this moment,” Brooks said. “It wasn’t about PR’s. It was about showing support for the all the friends and family who have stood by me."

In the final men's team standings, Washington finished fifth with a final team score of 75.25.  The Cougars finished ninth with 66.5 points, as Oregon took the title with 163.25 points.

On the women's side, the Huskies were seventh with 53 points, and the Cougars eighth with 46.5.  Oregon completed the sweep of both team titles by scoring 176 points.

Results from the Pac-12 Championships are available here.

NOTE:  The sports information offices of the University of Washington, Washington State University, the University of Oregon, and Stanford University contributed to this report.

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