College Corner: The Men Of Oregon Take The Headlines

* Charlie Hunter (right to left), Cooper Teare and Cole Hocker made quite the trio at the Tyson Invite

Photo Credit: University of Oregon athletics

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It would be hard to start anywhere else but the Tyson Invitational, where an NCAA collegiate indoor record was achieved by University of Oregon senior Cooper Teare this weekend in Fayetteville, Arkansas. 

And yet, this is a story not just about Teare, a 2017 St. Joseph Notre Dame graduate, but about a trio of Oregon men, including the likes of sophomore Cole Hocker, and native Australian, junior Charlie Hunter. 

Any time an athlete breaks a collegiate record, it stands to be oohed and awed over, as these things don't happen very often -- though Oregon accomplished a collegiate record in the DMR on Jan. 29, too.

Still, Teare and Hocker both achieved a downright inspiring feat, knocking down fellow Ducks alum Edward Cheserek's previous indoor mile record, with Teare finishing in 3:50.39 and Hocker in 3:50.55; Cheresek ran 3:52.01 indoors in 2017.

Current Baylor coach Todd Harbour ran 3:50.34 in the mile in 1981, though he did so outside the collegiate season in Oslo, Norway. 

Teare's been on an upward trajectory ever since he finished fourth in the 3K at indoors in 2019. But after COVID-19 wiped away all of his junior campaign -- both the indoor national championships and the outdoor season -- there might be a sense here that Teare is making up for lost time.

Even back in 2017, when MileSplit covered his final season in California, the harrier always displayed a knack for the dramatic: He finished first at the Pan American U20 Championships in the 1,500m; was on the cusp of breaking four but came up agonizingly short on four tries; he finished third in the 3,200m in his final season at CIF, behind Luis Grijalva and Callum Bolger; and he was second at Brooks PR. 

It makes sense that this would be his time, that all that delayed mojo is finally making its way to him. 

Teare also ran 1:49.29 in the 800m that same meet. Meanwhile, Hocker, a 2019 Indianapolis Cathedral graduate and former Foot Locker Nationals winner, ran 1:48.44 for 800m, which stands at No. 10 in the NCAA. Like Teare, he's officially blown up in recent months, with a 3K PR of 7:46.44 in January and another outstanding 5K in December. 

But this shouldn't be surprising, either.

While the Indiana native had blossomed in track and field late over his final high school season with Cathedral, he was a coup for Oregon and head distance coach Ben Thomas in 2019 -- who at that point was recruiting some of his first athletes after being hired in July of 2018.

Hocker won Foot Locker that ensuing fall season, and then signed with Oregon shortly thereafter. 

Oregon distance coach Ben Thomas is making his distance contigent downright world-setters, as both Teare and Hocker claimed the seventh- and eighth-best marks in world history. 

Lastly, let's not forget about the Oceanic-native Hunter, a native of Gosford, Australia. He ran both the No. 3 mile time in the NCAA (3:53.49) and set a new Australian national record for 800 meters, finishing in 1:45.59. That mark is also a new NCAA No. 1. 

Which is simply incredible. 

While we're less familiar with Hunter's prep career in Australia, I think it would be fair to say he was on the same playing field as both Teare and Hocker before arriving at Oregon. 

One more note: Former Passaic standout Luis Peralta, who came to Oregon in 2018, was second overall in the 800m, 1:47.61, which gave him a Dominican Republic national record, too. Sprinter Micah Williams continued his torried form, running 6.60 and 6.63 in the 60m.

All in all, it was a remarkable day for Oregon distance, mid-distance and sprint athletes. 

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Around The NCAA

Terrance Laird, LSU: The reigning SEC Indoor Track and Field champion recaptured the NCAA lead for 200 meters on Feb. 12 at the Tyson Invitational. 

Laird ran 20.41 seconds, narrowly escaping the grasps of Florida's Joseph Fahnbulleh, who was second in 20.42 seconds. 

It's been a curvy road for Laird to get to this point -- he began his career at Penn State before detouring at Hinds CC and now LSU -- but it's not about where you start but where you finish.

And the Coatesville native knows his next path is working toward an NCAA championship. His mark this weekend represents an overall indoor best. 

Photo Credit: University of Kentucky Athletics

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Abby Steiner, Kentucky: Steiner is on an absolute tear for Kentucky. 

She already owned the No. 1 performance in the 200m prior to this weekend -- she opened her season with a 22.69 -- but at the Tiger Paw Invite she slayed it again, going 22.52 seconds. She also secured an NCAA No. 6 ime of 7.21 in the 60m. 

The former Dublin Coffman two-sport superstar, who earned votes on the mid-indoor edition of the Bowerman Watch List, is officially the woman to beat at the NCAA Championships in March.

Still, Steiner shouldn't be too comfortable. The top six NCAA performances in the 200m were reset over the weekend.

Randolph Ross, North Carolina A&T: What a weekend it was for the Aggie, who posted an NCAA No. 1 time in the 400m (45.22) and an NCAA No. 3 in the 200m (20.50). 

Under the tutelage of his father, Ross has become a start with North Carolina A&T. The Aggies also currently own the NCAA No. 1 time in the 4x400. 

Photo Credit: Arizona State University athletics

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Turner Washington, Arizona State: It's been some time since we last spoke about the 2017 graduate of Canyon Del Oro, but he came back to the headlines in a big way this weekend, breaking the collegiate indoor shot put record with a mark of 21.85 meters (71-8.25). 

He surpassed Payton Otterdahl's former mark of 71-6.75 from 2019.

Aaliyah Miller, Baylor: Athing Mu isn't the only superstar half-miler in the state of Texas. 

She still has to watch out for Miller, who secured a personal best 800m time of 2:02.35 at the Iowa State Classic this weekend. The 2016 graduate of McKinney Boyd is in her fifth-year for the Bears, but she's certainly one to watch over the next month. 

Casey Clinger, BYU: A host of BYU men threw down some significant performances in the 5K at the UW Invite over the weekend at The Dempsey. 

But Clinger, alongside junior Connor Mantz -- a 2015 Sky View (UT) High School graduate -- certainly deserves some praise. Afte returning from his LDS mission in 2020, the 2017 graduate of American Fork has been on a roll as he's worked his way back to fine form. 

Over the weekend, Clinger secured a personal best 5K time of 13:28.79 to finish second overall in the field, while Mantz was slightly ahead in 13:28.00. Those times represent the No. 1 and No. 2 performances in the NCAA right now. 

Fellow BYU freshman Easton Allred, a 2020 graduate of Corner Canyon, was 16th in 14:03.02.

Jamar Marshall, Arizona State: The St. Mary's Stockton (CA) grad is out to a fast start in the 60mH, where he picekd up the No. 8 performance in the NCAA this weekend at the Texas Tech Shootout in 7.78 seconds.

This season marks the first indoor efforts of Marshall's career. 

Matthew Boling, Georgia: The Texan posted the No. 8 long jump in the NCAA this weekend at the Tige Paw Invite in Clemson, hitting an overall PR of 25-5.5.

Amaris Tyynismaa, Alabama: Few likely realize long Amaris has been running at a competitive level. 

Her career goes all the way back to 2015, when she was a seventh-grader crushing high school competition at the Alabama Indoor State Championships. Over her tenure, she's one of the most accomplished prep athletes in Alabama history. 

But Tyynismaa continued her long-tenured history in a big way at the Tyson Invitational this weekend, netting a fantastic career mile PR of 4:33.22, which currently sits at No. 3 in the NCAA. 

Consider that when Tyynismaa was first setting standards in 2015, her 1,600m best was a time of 5:00.18. That's long-range improvement at the highest of levels. 

Ayden Owens, Michigan: Back in 2018, Owens was often battling fellow Pennsylvanian Kyle Garland for supremacy in the multis. 

But neither has had very many chances to perform at the NCAA level up until this point. 

This weekend, Owens moved up to No. 3 in the NCAA in the heptathlon with his point total of 5,751. He's only behind Texas' Leo Neugebauer (5,960) and Arkansas' Markus Ballengee (5,827).

Grace Stark, Florida: In her second competition in back-to-back weeks, Stark landed an NCAA No. 1 time in the 60mH in 7.96 seconds. Her previous best of 7.91 came at the SEC Indoor Championships in 2020; she finished second a year ago in that event.