Tara Rohatinsky-Northcutt wins the 10,000 meter event at NCAA Championships
DURHAM -- Tara Rohatinsky-Northcutt became only the eighth woman in BYU history to win an NCAA event title, claiming victory in the 10,000 meters in 33:49.24, just ahead of teammate Marty Hernandez (33:50.45). The performance picked up 18 team points for the Cougars in the final event of the day, enough to give the team the overall lead after one day. SMU finished the day in second place with 10 points, followed by Nebraska in third with eight points.
"Never in my wildest dreams would I have won this race, even in my mind," said Northcutt. "It's just starting to sink in, and it's a great feeling. Really, it was just a race of pace and strategy, hanging around and running smart at the end." Hernandez and Northcutt ran with the leaders throughout the race before pulling ahead in the final laps. "We each took turns taking the lead, and I just out-kicked her in the end," said Northcutt.
The duo improved on last year's performance in the same race, when they placed second and fifth in Boise to lead team scoring on the eventual eighth-place finish. Teammate Laurel Hildebrandt finished in 17th for the Cougars in 35:28.08. Northcutt, who led the team in scoring last year with eight points, became the first BYU woman to win an NCAA title since Tiffany Lott won the heptathlon in 1998.
Melanie Steere advanced to the 800-meter finals with a time of 2:04.55 in qualifying heat one. Steere finished second in the heat in the fifth-fastest qualifying time overall, just off her personal best (2:05.40), No. 2 on the BYU all-time list. In another qualifying series, BYU 400-meter hurdlers Holly Gibbons and Milena Alver were eliminated after finishing sixth in their respective heats. Gibbons ran a 58.43 in heat three, and Alver finished in 58.66 in heat one, leaving the pair out of Friday's final.
A missed exchange between Slade Combs and Kenneth Andam spoiled the men's hopes of a win in the 4x100 relay, as the team came to a stop 300 meters into the race. The men came into the race off a season-best win in the event at the MWC Championships, and hoped to improve on last year's third-place finish in the relay.
"That was really a disappointment," said men's coach Willard Hirschi. "I think if we had made that handoff, we would have qualified for the finals."
In other action on the men's side, ninth-ranked Kyle Grossarth failed to advance in the 400-meter hurdles preliminaries, running a 52.16 to finish sixth in heat two. Grossarth's slow start left him off his usual pace that had earned him a personal-best 49.82 in the event earlier in the season.
Complete results are available at www.ncaachampionships.com