NCAA Track Stars Head to Olympic Trials, NFL
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) _ Their collegiate season over, NCAA track and field champions began preparing for this summer’s Olympics _ where they’ll represent nations ranging from Hungary to Zambia.
Eleven of the 19 men’s individual champions in the four-day meet that ended Saturday were from outside the United States, and four of the women’s winners were foreigners. Many of those NCAA champions will be running, jumping and throwing against American college teammates at the Atlanta Games this summer.
But at least one competitor was so disgusted by his performance at the NCAA meet that he may not even enter the U.S. Olympic trials, opting instead to go straight to the NFL.
Jonathan Ogden’s poor showing in the shot put on the final day of the meet may be good news for the Baltimore Ravens.
Ogden, one of the pre-meet favorites, finished 11th with a toss of only 59 feet, 1 1/2 inches _ more than three feet behind the UCLA senior’s best toss of the outdoor season.
Ogden, drafted by the Ravens with the No. 4 pick overall, had already told Baltimore he would skip a rookie camp beginning today, and had hoped to be throwing the shot at the Olympics in the middle of NFL training camp.
His poor showing at the NCAA meet, though, may speed his transition from college shotputter to NFL lineman.
``I didn’t throw well enough to even think about the Olympic trials. I just threw awful, my technique was lousy,″ he said. ``If I’m not throwing 63-64 feet in practice, I’m not going to bother wasting my time at the trials. Football is the most important thing in my life, if I can’t throw well.″
LSU won its 10th straight women’s team track title, the most consecutive championships by any women’s team in any sport in NCAA history. Arkansas won its fifth consecutive men’s title.
There were some outstanding individual performances at the meet:
_ Ato Boldon, a Trinidad native and UCLA senior, won the men’s 100 meters in 9.92 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year. But his expected showdown with Obadele Thompson of UTEP was ruined when Thompson limped out of the championships with groin and hamstring injuries.
_ Balazs Kiss, a Hungarian and USC senior, completed his college career without ever having lost a hammer throw competition. He became only the fifth person to win four NCAA track titles in the same event.
_ Dawn Ellerbe of South Carolina became the first American woman with a toss of more than 200 feet in the hammer throw, a relatively new event for women. She threw 201 feet on her first throw, then later recorded a mark of 209-2.
_ Andy Bloom of Wake Forest won the men’s discus and shot put titles.
_ Jennifer Rhines of Villanova became the first woman to win three 5,000 meter NCAA titles.
_ Lawrence Johnson of Tennessee, who a week earlier had set the American record in the pole vault, won his event easily at 19-1 to capture his second straight collegiate title.
_ D’Andre Hill and Zundra Feagin established themselves as the latest in a remarkable line of great female sprinters at LSU. Hill edged Feagin to win the 100 in 11.03, the third-fastest time in the world this year. Then Feagin edged Hill to win the 200 in 22.44, the second-best world time of 1996.
_ Godfrey Siamusiye of Arkansas, who will run for Zambia in the Olympics, edged teammate Jason Bunston at the finish to win the men’s 10,000 in a thrilling race that featured three lead changes on the final lap. Then Siamusiye and Bunston finished second and third in the 5,000, behind Colorado’s Alan Culpepper.