Confidence boost for Emma Bates
EUGENE, Ore. -- Last fall, when coach Corey Ihmels came to Boise State from Iowa State, he sat down with junior Emma Bates. He asked her what she wanted to do during this cross country and track season. Her response was to contend in the conference races.
"I went into this cross country season and I didn't have any self-confidence at all," Bates said. "I was doubting myself."
But Ihmels had his rebuttal: Bates was better than that, and she would win.
And on Thursday night at the NCAA track and field championships, as Bates willed herself to a gutsy finish in the 10,000-meter run, she fulfilled that prediction. Bates crossed the line first in a personal-best time of 32:32.25. Although she didn't realize it at first -- she said the last 100 meters were a blur and she thought someone might've passed her right at the end -- she had finally won that national title that a year ago seemed inconceivable.
Bates said that her workouts over the past season haven't changed much. The difference, she believes, is her self-confidence.
"That's my mental block, that's the only thing keeping me from doing big things," Bates said. "I think doing this, winning a national title, will really help get me to the next level, because it'll just instill so much more confidence in me."
Where teams stand
It seems that Texas has a bit of an advantage heading into the finals on Friday and Saturday.
Sophomore Jenna Prandini helped Oregon's chances on Wednesday when she won the long jump, and she continued that Thursday by qualifying first in the 200-meter dash. But the Longhorns have two athletes competing against Prandini in the 200 and in the 100.
The Ducks don't have a team competing in the 4x100 meter relay (Texas does), but Oregon has a runner in the 800 (Texas doesn't). The Longhorns' big point haul could come in the 400, in which they have three runners competing.
Don't count Texas A&M out completely, either. The Aggies picked up 10 points on Thursday when Shelbi Vaughan came away with the win in the discus, and they have several other athletes in solid positions on Friday and Saturday.
The highlight of the meet could come in the 4x400 meter relay (all three of these teams are competing). The Ducks came back to finish second in their qualifying heat after a sloppy first leg had them in a sixth-place hole. Texas and Texas A&M also picked up automatic qualifications. It wouldn't be a huge surprise to see the team standings coming down to this race, with these three teams finishing in the top three spots.
Sprinting greats in Longhorn state
In the five burning questions leading into the championships, I wondered how much the state of Texas would dominate the 200. The better question should've been: How much will the state of Texas dominate the sprints?
In the 24 spots for the sprint finals on Friday and Saturday (100, 200, 400), 11 of the lanes will be filled with runners from schools located in Texas. The other 13 will be filled with runners from the 49 other states.
Of the three races, the state of Texas is best represented in the 200, with five of the eight finalists: two from Texas and one apiece from Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor.
Only two titles were awarded on Thursday, in the discus and the 10,000. Four events determined their finals -- the 200 and 1,500, the 100-meter hurdles and the 4x400 relay. Those events will conclude with their finals on Saturday afternoon.
On Thursday, the first half of the heptathlon took place. Athletes competed in the 100-meter hurdles, the high jump, the shot put and the 200-meter dash. They will conclude the heptathlon on Friday with the long jump, javelin and 800-meter run. Midway standings aren't listed for the heptathlon, so the final results will come in the Day 3 recap.
1. Shelbi Vaughan, Texas A&M (196-11)
2. Danniel Thomas, Kent State (187-4)
3. Laura Bobek, Oregon (184-4)
4. Alexis Cooks, Akron (182-3)
5. Kellion Knibb, Florida State (180-8)
6. Jessica Maroszek, Kansas (179-9)
7. Kiah Hicks, Colorado State (175-6)
8. Alexandra Collatz, USC (174-1)
1. Emma Bates, Boise State (32:32.25)
2. Elinor Kirk, UAB (32:32.99)
3. Juliet Bottorff, Duke (32:37.46)
4. Elvin Kibet, Arizona (32:43.39)
5. Elaina Balouris, William and Mary (32:46.57)
6. Erin Finn, Michigan (32:50.14)
7. Sarah Pagano, Syracuse (33:00.46)
8. Jana Soethout, San Francisco (33:02.02)
1. Jenna Prandini, Oregon (22.95)
2. Kamaria Brown, Texas A&M (22.99)
3. Morolake Akinosun, Texas (23.00)
4. Cierra White, Texas Tech (23.001)
5. Mahagony Jones, Penn State (23.006)
6. Olivia Ekpone, Texas (23.15)
7. Tynia Gaither, USC (23.17)
8. Ashley Fields, Baylor (23.27)
1. Stephanie Brown, Arkansas (4:16.10)
2. Cory McGee, Florida (4:17.56)
3. Linden Hall, Florida State (4:17.58)
4. Brook Handler, Michigan (4:17.83)
5. Sarah Penney, Oregon (4:18.10)
6. Agata Strausa, Florida (4:18.14)
7. Rachel Schneider, Georgetown (4:18.37)
8. Emily Lipari, Villanova (4:21.14)
9. Shelby Houlihan, Arizona State (4:21.19)
10. Allison Peare, Kentucky (4:21.21)
11. Molly Hanson, Wisconsin (4:21.28)
12. Angel Piccirillo, Villanova (4:21.47)
1. Sharika Nelvis, Arkansas State (12.76)
2. Bridgette Owens, Florida (12.964)
3. Anne Zagre, Florida State (12.969)
4. Jasmin Stowers, LSU (12.98)
5. Morgan Snow, Texas (13.00)
6. Kendra Harrison, Kentucky (13.07)
7. Tiffani McReynolds, Baylor (13.11)
8. Le'Tristan Pledger, Texas Tech (13.12)
4x400 meter relay
1. Texas (3:28.887)
2. Texas A&M (3:28.888)
3. Arkansas (3:29.95)
4. USC (3:30.29)
5. Oregon (3:31.35)
6. Florida (3:31.81)
7. Penn State (3:32.45)
8. Kansas State (3:33.12)