TEMPE – Eleven Arizona State athletes are competing in the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, which begin Wednesday at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. But a key piece of the Sun Devils men’s track arsenal did not make the trip.
This is the most athletes to qualify for the championships under coach Dion Miller, who’s in his third year directing cross country and track and field at ASU. Miller sent eight athletes last year, when the men’s and women’s teams each finished ninth overall.
“As a head coach, it feels good,” Miller said. “Of course, we wanted more, but I think we have an opportunity to display what this team is about, and I’m excited.”
Fresh off a pair of titles in the shot put and discus at the Pac-12 Championships, Jorinde van Klinken will look to defend her championship in the discus after triumphing at nationals last year. Van Klinken will also compete in the shot put finals, where the Dutch graduate student took 12th last year after foul throws on her final two attempts.
“I think (winning) two titles, I’ll be happy no matter what distance I throw this time because it is the NCAA championships,” van Klinken said. “I need to be on top of my game to win the titles. I know that if I win them, it means I did well, so that’s definitely my biggest goal and it’s going to be a big challenge, but it’s going to be fun. I’m excited, and we’ll see what happens.”
ASU senior Turner Washington is the defending discus and shot put champion. Wednesday’s shot put final starts at 6:40 p.m., and Friday’s discus final begins at 5:35 p.m.
Although the Sun Devils are bringing a plethora of point-scorers, the team will be without one of its biggest assets: sophomore Jamar Marshall Jr., who finished fifth in the 110-meter hurdles at the outdoor championships last year. He’s listed as “unavailable for competition,” and the team has released no further details.
Marshall’s absence is a sizable loss for the Sun Devils. The sophomore from Stockton, California, won the 110-meter hurdles title at the Pac-12 Championships in May and set a school record at 13.39 seconds.
With Marshall missing, the Sun Devils will turn to four true freshmen to try to make up for potential lost points.
“Hats off to our coaches and our staff and recruiting,” Miller said. “It’s been a long haul to get the freshman here, and I think you see the future is bright for Arizona State track and field.”
Freshman Adriana Tatum took 10th in the 200-meter West Region preliminaries to qualify for Eugene. The standout from Sandia High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, ran not only a personal best at prelims, but her time of 22.77 seconds is the second-fastest freshman time in the nation. Tatum will take the track at 7:44 p.m. Thursday in the women’s 200-meter semifinals.
“It’s kind of crazy because I didn’t think I would end up here at all,” Tatum said. “I thought Pac-12s was going to be my top. I was honestly shocked making it to regionals, so it’s kind of crazy that I came from little New Mexico and now I’m racing against these top athletes. It’s blowing my mind.
“I just want to run through my races healthy, no injuries, that’s all I can hope for. I’m just super grateful and humbled that I was able to make it to nationals.”
Freshman Dayton Carlson is another ASU runner who has made an instant impact. The No. 1 recruit from Arizona will be running in the 800-meter, which begins with semifinals at 6:14 p.m. Wednesday.
Carlson narrowly took second in the 800-meter at the Pac-12 championships in a photo finish, and at prelims in Arkansas, the former Arizona Gatorade Runner of the Year clocked a personal record of 1:47.79 in the 800.
“Just survive and advance, really, it’s my first one ever,” Carlson said of his goals for the championships. “I think it’s going to be fun to get out there and get some experience with the top guys in the nation. I’m really excited for it, and I think I can make it to the final round and do really well.”
Freshman Justin Robinson qualified for the 400-meter after finishing ninth and running a PR at prelims (45.30). Robinson’s teammate, junior Gamali Felix snatched sixth and clocked 45.18 to join him in Eugene. The men’s 400-meter semifinals begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Freshman Ralford Mullings will join Washington in representing the Sun Devils in Friday’s discus final.
The other Sun Devils competing at the championships are graduate student Beatrice Llano and junior Shelby Moran in the hammer throw, sophomore Jeremy Cody in the high jump and junior Vincent Mauri in the 5K.
“Last year,” Miller said, “we were top 10 on both sides, and we didn’t have much presence on the track. We’re more balanced this time with having a little more presence on the track. For the future, we’re going to continue to build an all-around team.
“That’s the goal: to have a complete track team so these are the beginnings of what we’re hoping for the future in terms of what our team is going to look like.”
The championships will be broadcast across ESPN networks, with coverage starting at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday on ESPNU. This is the 14th time the outdoor championships have been held at Hayward.