Friday, June 8, 2018

Washington's Andrew Gardner earns All-America honors with fifth place finish in steeplechase...

EUGENE—In his final race donning the purple and gold of the Washington Huskies, Spokane native Andrew Gardner (left/photo by Mike Scott) scored a personal best in the 3000 meter steeplechase, and earned a fifth place finish as the men completed their competition on a rainy Friday afternoon at the NCAA track and field championships at Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon.

As he did in the semis, Gardner bided his time in the middle of the pack, running consistent 67-69 second laps, then made his move on the final lap.

In that final lap, Houston’s Brian Barraza, who led for most of the race, took a spill coming off the turn entering the backstretch, which opened up the podium spots.

Minnesota junior Obsa Ali took advantage of Barraza’s misfortune, as he went to the front after the spill, and earned the victory in 8:32.23.

Gardner ran a 66.81 final lap as he finished with a final time of 8:37.07, eclipsing the personal best he set two weeks ago at the NCAA West Preliminary round in Sacramento. His finish was the best by a Husky since Dan Bell in 1987.

"It's emotional, because that was my last time running here and representing Washington," said Gardner. "I was going for the win, that didn't happen, but I've got to be satisfied with how I ran here. It was one of my better years and I'm forever grateful for the support I've had recently making my experience the best it could be."

Fellow Husky senior Colby Gilbert finished 22nd with a time of 14:27.22 in the men’s 5000 meter final.

Gilbert ran near the front of the pack for most of the race, but wasn’t able to respond over the last 800 meters when the field ramped up the pace, starting with 62 seconds, and the 56.53 final lap run by winner Sean McGorty of Stanford, as he took the victory in 13:54.81, defeating pre-race favorite Justyn Knight (13:55.03), and defending champion Grant Fisher (13:55.04) of Stanford.

Wenatchee native Isaiah Brandt-Sims ran a 45.94 anchor leg as Stanford finished eighth in the 4 x 400 relay, as the Cardinal ran 3:05.50.

USC, thanks to a 43.62 leg by 400 meter winner Michael Norman, set a meet, facility, and collegiate record, as the Trojans ran 3:59.00.

The University of Georgia won the team title, scoring 52 points, followed by the University of Florida with 42 points.  Houston was third with 35 points, while USC was the first Pac-12 school in fourth with 34 points.

In the heptathlon, Washington State’s Alissa Brooks-Johnson stands 11th after the first day of competition.

Brooks-Johnson, the three-time Pac-12 champion, has 3419 points, which is the second-highest first day score in her career, as Louisa Grauvogel of Georgia leads at the break with 3752 points.

Brooks-Johnson opened the day running the 100m hurdles in a time of 13.84 seconds which was 13th-fastest of the 24 women competing. She high jumped a height of 5-feet 5 1/4 inches (1.66m) which was tied for 15th overall.

In the shot put, after her first two throws were unremarkable, Brooks-Johnson threw a lifetime-best mark of 42-2 3/4 (12.87m), a distance that is one foot better than her previous PR and the fourth best on the day. Those points moved her from 17th to 10th in the overall standings after three of the seven events.

Brooks-Johnson ended her first day with a 200m dash time of 24.93 seconds, 14th-fastest on the day.

Brooks-Johnson, along with Washington’s Amy-Eloise Neale in the 5000 meter finals, are the lone Washington-affiliated athletes remaining in the meet, as the women close out Historic Hayward Field’s 99-year run Saturday.

Here’s the time schedule for Brooks-Johnson and Neale Saturday:

W Heptathlon (11:30a long jump; TBA javelin; 5:13 pm 800)—Alissa Brooks-Johnson

W 5000 final (5:25 pm)—Amy-Eloise Neale

The ESPN family of networks offers live coverage of the NCAA championships both over-the-air and online each day.

Results from day 3 of the NCAA championships are available here.

NOTE:  The NCAA, University of Oregon, Washington State University, and the University of Washington contributed to this report. 

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