Clarke wins NCAA indoor title for men's track and field
Arizona State University junior shot putter Jordan Clarke might be starting to enjoy playing the role of the underdog. Clarke set a new personal best by over a meter at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Nampa, Idaho, March 9, and won his first indoor national title in the process.
Clarke entered the weekend’s competition as the eight-seed in the event but saved his best for last – literally. Clarke launched his sixth and final throw of the competition 20.86 meters (68-05.25) to jump over Florida’s Kemal Mesic – the national leader entering the weekend – for his second national crown and first indoor first-team All-America award.
The junior out of Anchorage, Alaska, posted four consecutive indoor personal records in the competition en route to his climactic final toss. Even more impressive for Clarke was just how big of a personal record it was - his indoor best entering the meet was just 19.44m (63-09.50).
Clarke topped that mark on his third attempt of the day with a throw of 19.60m (64-03.75) before ripping off throws of 19.69m (64-07.25), 19.95m (65-05.50) and the final throw of 20.86m (68-05.25) – a mark that ranks second in ASU indoor history behind only the collegiate record held by Ryan Whiting of 21.73m (71-03.50).
It was a bit of déjà vu for Clarke, who entered the NCAA Outdoor Championships last year as the seven-seed before upsetting the field on his fifth throw for his first national crown.
Clarke’s performance marked an end to a monumental day for ASU throwing as a whole and throws coach David Dumble. Earlier in the day, Whiting won the World Indoor Championship in the shot put in Istanbul, Turkey, with a new career-best throw of 22.00m (72-02.25). Dumble coached Whiting while he was at Arizona State and remains in contact with the six-time NCAA champion, offering feedback and advice to Whiting as he trains in Pennsylvania.
In the men’s 800-meter run prelims on Friday, senior Mason McHenry clocked the fastest time of the day in 1:47.87 to advance to tomorrow’s final. The time was one hundredth of a second slower than McHenry’s top time this season and gave McHenry the facility record in the event.
Clarke’s flair for the dramatic and McHenry’s facility record could not have come at a better time as things didn’t look to be going Arizona State’s way in the early moments on the opening day of competition at the Jacksons Indoor Track.
In the first running event of the day, junior Nick Happe was in the wrong place at the wrong time in the men’s mile as Oklahoma State’s Kirubel Erassa tumbled heading into the corner and Happe was left with no where to go but over the top of him. Despite the fall, Happe rebounded for a 4:13.18 finish but that was not enough to push him into tomorrow’s final. Regardless, Happe will earn second-team All-America status courtest of his 15th place finish.
In the men’s 60-meter dash, sophomore Ryan Milus clocked in at 6.64 seconds and did not advance to the finals in the event. Milus finished 13th overall in the preliminary round and will earn second-team All-America accolades in the process as well.
In the women’s long jump, junior Christabel Nettey did not advance beyond the preliminary round with her best leap of 6.15m (20-02.25). Nettey finished 11th overall and will also earn second-team All-America honors.
The Sun Devils will return to action March 13 where ASU head coach Greg Kraft will try to lead his jumpers Chris Benard (triple jump) and Bryan McBride (high jump) to All-America status. Also in action will be McHenry in the 800-meter final and Anna Jelmini in the women’s shot put event. Check back at thesundevils.com for a complete recap of tomorrow’s action at the conclusion of the day.